Seattle has many contradictions. One of them is Harbor Steps.
It was developed by a civic-minded member of the Bullitt family and inspired by a European sense or ideal of public space. But Harbor Steps is also the core of some of the most expensive properties in this state. The few people with the means to live here are right next to an area whose egalitarian principles are the opposite of those that generate and maintain wealth. The guiding idea was something like Rome's Spanish Steps, and in many ways Harbor Steps realized this vision: It's democratic and popular and functional.
This contradiction is on my mind when I walk down the steps across First Avenue from Seattle Art Museum. Where the steps intersect with Post Alley is a restaurant that I love, Lecosho. Not only does the food here agree with me, but the space's north-facing windows do too—the way they seem to fly above the falling steps.
Because the sun sets directly in front of Harbor Steps, the twilights in the wood-rich restaurant are phenomenal. When the dying light gets too bright, the panels are pulled down, and the place is bathed in a goldish light that recalls the light in the Blade Runner scene that occurs in the Mayan-pyramid-like tower.
I usually order the pork sausage at Lecosho. It is served with one of the greatest legumes ever produced by nature, lentils du puy. The sausage is made in the restaurant, its meat from an animal raised not too far from the city. A sliced soft-boiled egg rests on the dark-green lentils in the curve of the sausage. The same goes for the beef short ribs, which has a slab of marbley dark-brown meat served in an equally dark-brown sauce. This beef is prepared to perfection. Its rich juices must be sucked out before it is chewed.
The house red wines here are always good. Lecosho is a red-wine restaurant. And it's best if the wine is as heavy as the food. There's even something heavyish about the Lecosho house salad, which is a collection of rough-looking greens accompanied by a sliced soft-boiled egg and baguette bits.
After finishing my usual Lecosho meal one night last year—though this time I had Oregon lamb cassoulet instead of the grilled sausage—I began thinking about my surroundings. Eating good food is like reading a good book: It demands your full attention. I noticed the twilight filtered by the panels had a color I could not readily define. The food, the wine, even the salad had a darkness that I savored, and so did the sky. Smoke from the fires of climate change was smothering the light of the sun that day.
More recently, I stopped by Lecosho on my birthday. I wanted to eat there all by myself. That is how much I dig this place. I thought that the best way to commemorate the day I was born was not with other people talking about this and that but in the silence of consuming this restaurant's rich foods and wines.