1. Tarsan i Jane
Spanish-born chef Perfecte Rocher and his wife, Alia, moved from Los Angeles to Seattle to be closer to farms, fisheries and forests. Today, they work one-on-one with small producers who hand-deliver their bounty to them – from fresh fish and just-picked carrots to maple syrup. Rocher then applies a wide array of alchemic techniques to these ingredients, creating multi-course meals that sing a love song to the region. Dishes are often unexpected and playful – and works of abstract art – making a meal here a memorable experience that defies categorisation. Some aspects draw on Rocher’s Valencian upbringing, while others are more globe-trotting in their inspiration. Black garlic dessert wine, carrot confit and carrot kimchi, plus Spanish-style cured pork sausages, are just a few of the flavours on display here.
Europe meets Pacific Northwest at this Bainbridge Island dining room, just a 35-minute ferry ride away from downtown Seattle. Owner Brendan McGill is both a chef and a farmer, raising heritage pigs on the island and growing an array of his own produce, from plums and tomatillos to ground cherries and more. This devotion to the land grounds his food – which includes charcuterie, pasta, fancy salads and wood-fired meats – in the seasons and elevates rustic ingredients to fine-dining perfection. Diners will be delighted with bright, beautifully composed dishes – currently on the menu are gemelli pasta with smoked salmon and spinach pesto; winter squash soup with black butter vinaigrette; and braised short rib with wood-fired carrots and wild-foraged mushrooms.
Chef and owner Maria Hines is one of the Pacific Northwest’s pioneers when it comes to local food, sustainability and the use of organic ingredients. Her restaurant uses only certified-organic elements alongside wild-foraged foods in an array of New American dishes that have won her nationwide acclaim (she bagged a James Beard Award in 2009). Diners can opt for a la carte meals or a tasting menu, with plenty of options to excite vegans and vegetarians. A meal might start with an heirloom bean cassoulet with truffle beurre fondue, followed by beef brisket with braised root vegetables, before it finishes with a pumpkin cashew cheesecake. Dining in the restaurant, housed in a charming Craftsman house – a common architectural style in the Pacific Northwest region – is as Seattle as it gets. With its garden patio and central fireplace, diners will feel right at home.
This eight-seat restaurant pays homage to owners Amber Manguid and Aaron Verzosa’s Pacific Northwest and Filipino heritage. The couple sources their ingredients only from local farms and ranches that they use for reimagined twists on their ancestral cuisines. That means no soy sauce or rice, for starters. Instead, they manage to find creative substitutes using local ingredients from Filipino farmers in the region who grow produce such as chayote, okra and bitter melon. With each dish, the couple tells diners a story relevant to the plate, whether it relates to their own personal histories, or that of the Filipino diaspora in the region. Diners might eat a raw-fish dish, kinilaw, which the restaurant flavours with Washington grapes instead of vinegar. It’s served in a sardine tin to represent the cannery jobs that drew Filipino immigrants to the region in the early 1900s. Altogether, every bite weaves individual threads into a gorgeous, multi-course tapestry.
5. The Walrus and the Carpenter
This dressed-up take on a rustic fishing pub is one of oft-awarded chef Renee Erickson’s finest. Pacific Northwest oysters are the centrepiece of any experience here; after all, the restaurant places them on the bar in wire baskets topped with ice chips, complete with hand-written signs listing the surrounding waters they hail from: Totten Inlet, Dabob Bay and Penn Cove. From here, you can build a meal of seasonal European small plates, such as French onion soup, scallop crudo and steak tartare. Beer, cocktails and wine from both France and Washington State round out the drinks list.
This unassuming sushi restaurant would slide under the radar were it not for its groundbreaking approach to the genre – it lays claim to the title of the city’s first sustainable sushi bar. Mashiko prominently features local seafood that has been sustainably fished – an ethos the restaurant has adhered to since 2009. Bites range from fresh nigiri of the day to chirashi bowls and American-style rolls (the kind packed with vegetables and fish and drizzled with sauce). Diners can opt for a la carte selections or go on a culinary adventure with multi-course chef’s choice meals and optional sake pairings.
Though most people now associate James Beard Award-winning chef Edouardo Jordan with his newer spot, JuneBaby, his first restaurant, Salare, continues to impress. Here, his prodigious talent is on display in meals that take diners on a trip around the world. Influences stem from Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and the United States, with local ingredients that are extruded, fermented, pickled and otherwise skilfully manipulated into dishes such as beef tartare with sunchoke chips and blue cheese fondue; duck hand pies (a type of pasty) with onion and green tomato; burrata with pickled mushrooms, local apples and delicata squash; and house-made pastas lathered in rich sauces and layered with seasonal vegetables. There’s even a kids’ menu, a rarity in a fine-dining restaurant.
Here are some indoor spots you can while away the day if you need a break from the outdoors
The newly reopened museum is where you’ll find Pacific Northwest natural and native history on display. Rather than keeping the science-in-progress behind closed doors, the museum allows visitors to peer into 12 working labs to watch scientists prep fossils or study bat specimens. All told, the museum’s 16 million artefacts range from native art to fossils to archaeology and beyond.
Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour
Journey one level underground to the city’s former street level in Seattle’s oldest neighbourhood, Pioneer Square. As you tour abandoned storefronts and dusty sidewalks, you’ll learn about Seattle’s evolution from a rough-and-tumble backwater to a major city, all through the jovial storytelling of the tour guides.
Volunteer Park Conservatory
This glass-enclosed, life-sized terrarium is filled with lush plant life. View blooming orchids, ferns, cacti, succulents and even a corpse flower. It’ll be a warm, bright respite from the weather, whether you’re a plant enthusiast or simply wishing to defrost.
Singapore Airlines now flies direct to Seattle four times weekly. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com
SEE ALSO: Four spots in Seattle for your art and architectural fix
This article was originally published in the February 2020 issue of SilverKris magazine