Baccos famous crab benedict.
Bacco's famous crab benedict. Bacco Facebook

Recently, while announcing the launch of a dinner service at Bacco Cafe, I described an unpleasant experience I had at Bacco while working at the Inn at the Market five years ago. This made Bacco very, very unhappy.

Their public relations consultant, Jason Price of Plaid Pig PR, wrote a strongly worded letter to The Stranger, demanding a full retraction and apology. Given that my recounting of said horrible experience—they served me a burger on a soggy, sad english muffin—was a recounting of a true event, a retraction wasn’t exactly warranted.

“It’s one thing to be a respected food critic who has honed his/her craft over the years and has garnered the respect of readers and restaurateurs alike,” Price wrote, probably furiously. “It’s another to effectively slander an establishment without having current, specific, tangible experiences with the menu and current ownership. I understand satire—and this isn’t it.”

First off, if what I wrote was supposed to be satirical, that would imply that I was joking. I was not. I was dead serious when I wrote, “I don't know why you would ever serve a hamburger on a limp English muffin, unless you were just like, ‘Fuck the hotel staff, they're not real people, they don't deserve a bun.’” Seriously, it’s a crime against hamburgers. It is also legitimately disrespectful. Secondly, the term "slander" implies that what I said was untrue. It was not. The memory of that muffin is burned upon my brain forever, thank you very much.

However, I do agree with the main gist of Price’s argument, which is that a lot can change in five years. Dan Savage agreed, and he came up with a cheeky way to settle the score. The most poetically just way to resolve the dispute, he decided, would be to make me return to Bacco and take an entirely objective observer to fact-check my opinion in real time.

This meant taking someone with absolutely no knowledge of my previous column, my opinion on Bacco, or even what Bacco actually is. Finding an absolute babe-in-arms when it comes to the Seattle food scene is not exactly easy, but I happen to have a friend who once assured me he would starve if Trader Joe’s stopped making microwaveable frozen meals.

“What do you think of Bacco?” I asked him.

“What’s a Bacco?” he replied. Perfect.

We met for brunch at noon this past Sunday, and somehow managed to miss the ever-present line of tourists Bacco seems to attract. We were also lucky enough to dine al fresco, snagging a nice two-top against the railing of their 1st Avenue patio.

I opted for a prosecco, to brace myself, and my friend got one of their fancy juices, the Ravenna (carrot, apple, and ginger). The prosecco was lovely and cheap. He enjoyed his juice, although said the ginger was hard to detect. First world problems, baby!

My companion and I both fell victim to the allure of sweet, bland Dungeness crab meat, choosing the crab omelette and the crab benedict, respectively. The benedict is something of a signature item, from what I remember. We also got a side of bacon and an extra biscuit, not because we are weak, opulent Americans, but because of journalism.

I have to say, it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. It was, in fact, a pretty decent spread, as far as PNW breakfast fare goes. My companion described his omelette as “perfectly cooked,” and judging from the excellently rounded edges, he was right. My benedict wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was solid, and the poached eggs were exactly as runny as they should be. A surprising number of people in this town poach eggs hard and serve them anyway. The hollandaise was a bit thin for my taste, but it was completely fine in terms of flavor. The breakfast potatoes were my favorite part of the experience: They were satisfyingly crispy and liberally-but-not-too-liberally salted. My companion, who ordered the bacon for himself, was kind enough to share, though he seemed to really dig it. I was inclined to agree, as it was at that perfect point between crispy, crumbly, and thick as all hell.

The service was also excellent, which is an aspect of dining that cannot be overlooked, especially when a restaurant’s staff is constantly bombarded by hordes of obnoxious, cruise-ship-bound tourists. That shit'll wear you down. We waited a few minutes for a table, but the hosts cleared and set ours the very second it was vacated. Our server was unflaggingly pleasant. The entire service experience was very warm, and made me feel like you will be treated quite well—provided you are an actual guest and not merely a plebeian car parker ordering lunch to go.

Overall, I’m not ready to hail Bacco as the breakfast innovator of the year as they aren’t exactly pushing any boundaries, but I am willing to upgrade my previous assessment quite a bit. They are a fine, reasonably priced place to get brunch, and one I'll gladly add to my quiver of acceptable Pike Place breakfast options.