I don’t make a lot of money. So when I splurge on a nice restaurant, I like to know that it’s going to be delicious, unpretentious and worth the money.
In Seattle, there are plenty of fine restaurants. People dress up nicely and line the tables; some Microsoft and Boeing executives seem to reserve “their” tables for a day each week. But sometimes when you go to these types of fancy restaurants, you find yourself nervous: the pretentious waiters wonder why you're there; you can’t properly pronounce a cheese variety; you can't believe the bill. This list highlights four of Seattle’s fine dining establishments that don’t have exorbitant price tags and with wait staffs that will still treat you with respect even if you’re wearing shoes from last season:
I went to Crush with my mom and was pleasantly surprised by how comfortable we felt there. The restaurant is located in a converted house in a no-mans land area in between Capitol Hill and Madison Park. For first time visitors, the thing to do in this joint is to order the tasting menu. It isn’t too pricey and, despite our waitress’ protestations, it was plenty for both of us. The chef prepares the tasting menu differently every night depending on the availability of proteins and local produce.
I wouldn’t call this a “fancy” restaurant, but it is surely unique in a city lacking a lot of Mediterranean eateries. Housed in Ballard, The Golden Beetle is upscale with blue walls, photographs of the countries that inspired the restaurant’s cuisine and red glass hanging lanterns. The food is simple—try the spanakopita cigar sticks with tsatziki dipping sauce—but delicious. Be sure and ask the bartender to create a special drink for you.
The Book Bindery is a seriously delightful eatery. Smartly located on the banks of the Fremont canal, the restaurant is housed in an old book bindery—hence the name—and has a windowed gazebo for you to watch the kayakers on the canal. The crowd is kind of posh, but you don’t have to be because the host and wait staff is extremely friendly and warm. The food is extremely accessible—they have a small menu with only a few options for each—and the wine selection is good.
You’d never know that Lark was a restaurant at all, let alone a nice one. It’s right outside of the main drags of Capitol Hill on 12th street and is hidden underneath a non-descript red-and-white awning and appears to be dark at all times. We didn’t even know if we’d come to the right place, but the eatery is just gauzy-curtained and dark-lit for an intimate dining experience. The small plate menu is a little exhaustive—and exhausting—but everyone around us seemed to be regulars and a solid handle on what to order.