After arriving in Seattle for my culinary journey, my first stop was to Zoka Coffee in University Village for an Espresso Machiatto, this is a cool neighborhood café located behind University Village shopping mall, that is a hub for students, biz people and all those there on their laptops. There is a good selection of muffins, doughnuts, scones, bars to go along with their espresso based beverages or pour over coffees. The café has a great feel to it with the wooden décor, lots of tables and seating around with wifi. From here I headed over to Barnes & Noble bookstore that is located in the nearby University Village mall and is the largest of it’s kind in Seattle. Browsed some magazines, and relaxed the time away.
Since I was driving it made it fairly easy to get around, next stop was the short 10 minute drive downtown to my hotel, in located in the South Lake Union neighborhood. Once a light industrial area on small, sweet Lake Union, South Lake Union is undergoing massive development with high-rise condos and a biotech corridor.
Checking in at the Pan Pacific Hotel located at 2125 Terry Avenue in the Westlake Center complex. From the minute the doormen opened the doors for me to enter the stylish eco lobby I was enchanted. The lobby is filled with comfy couches for lounging, the front desk staff ready to assist and within minutes I was on my way to my room #1009 on the 10th floor. The room had 2 Queen Hypnos® beds, Egyptian cotton bedding, Herman Miller chair and complimentary wireless high speed internet and an amazing view of the Seattle Space Needle directly in front of my window. I wandered the hotel to get my bearings; the 2nd floor is where all the functions are held in the banquet and meeting rooms. On the first floor, beside the front desk is a lounging area with fireplace, behind is the Bar where Breakfast is available daily from 7am -11am or drinks during the rest of the day and into the night.
Across the way is the Fitness Centre which is available to guests 24 hours a day and features a huge selection of the best fitness equipment, with televisions for watching. You’ll also find a good size hydropool and sauna. For dinner I headed outside and downstairs to Whole Foods, this is one of my favourite supermarkets as they have an array of healthy eating options all day long, I picked up some dinner and headed to my room to relax for the rest of the night.
On Saturday morning, I had breakfast at the Seastar bar in the lobby a plate of Scrambled eggs, wheat toast, and herb potatoes. Then I met a friend at Top Pot Doughnuts (a couple minutes drive from the hotel) Top Pot is a local chain of gourmet donuts and this cool café that looked like a library was filled with people enjoying their morning coffee, and of course one of the many tasty doughnuts. I had the Pink Feather Boa Donut which was ever so tasty and heavenly. They have a pastry case filled with a large selection of donuts from Bavarian Crème to crullers to pink glaze and they obviously have a huge fan base who love these doughnuts.
Next stop was to meet another friend at Seattle Coffee Works, another café that is located a block away from Pike Place Market. This was a really nice café with a great vibe again filled with people who love coffee, and here I had an Espresso Macchiato. Back to my hotel to grab a sandwich at Whole Foods for lunch and then a rest at the hotel. Afterwards I went for a walk exploring the downtown area dropping into Borders Books on 4th Avenue, then to Barnes & Noble on 7th Avenue, walked by various shops at Pacific Place and Westlake Centre. I then picked up my car and headed for a drive to the Northgate Shopping centre (10 minutes north of downtown) to check out the mall and walk around.
Then it was back downtown to change and meet up for a chat with Chef John Howie who is the Executive Chef and owner of Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar that is located adjacent to the Pan Pacific Hotel.
Chef John Howie is a native to Seattle and he has been in the restaurant business since he was 15, working all sorts of jobs from being a busboy, waiter, dishwasher, cook, sous-chef and then chef, he has worked at some of the top restaurants including Emmet’s in Bellevue, Sundays in Queen Anne, 13 Coins downtown, and then 10 years as Head Chef at Palisade. After working as a chef in Bellevue an opportunity arose for him to open his own restaurant and that he did founding Seastar Bellevue in 2002, he then went on to open other restaurants in the Seattle/Tacoma area including Adriatic Grill (Tacoma), Sport (Seattle), Seastar Seattle in 2009, and then John Howie Steak in 2009. At Seastar Seattle he not only provides the food service to the Pan Pacific Hotel (from Breakfast, to 24 hour room service) he also operates the full service dining room serving lunch and dinner daily. I asked him what he likes to drink when he is relaxing in his restaurant or others and as much as he loves Wine he also likes cocktails and prefers a Sidecar as his beverage of choice. He loves Bourbon over Scotch too. He works with as many local farmers as he can buying local produce from the farmers markets, sustainable seafood. He strives to pair wines with his food selections and of course depending on the food selection he will pair wines from around the world and around Washington.
After my chat with Chef Howie I headed into the restaurant where I had a friend join me for dinner and what an extraordinary meal it was. Chef Howie created a special 6 course tasting menu for me and we spent the next 5 hours eating and tasting thru the highlights of the menu. The meal began with a basket of freshly baked cheese rolls.
My friend informed the Chef that he was Vegetarian, within minutes Chef Howie and his team had taken on this challenge and then informed us that a special Vegetarian menu had been created, we both agreed that this was very impressive.
Deviled Eggs, Ahi Poke, Crunchy Roll
paired with: Duval Leroy, Vertus, Champagne, France MV
Hot and Sour Thai Shrimp Soup (Spicy Thai chili broth with sweet Kauai blue shrimp, tomato, straw mushrooms, lemon grass, Kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime and cilantro.)
paired with: Barbieto, Malvasia, Madeira, 1954
Smoked Duck Breast Maytag Blue Cheese Salad (Crisp romaine, curly endive, grilled radicchio and Belgian endive tossed in a rich savory garlic-blue cheese dressing, with sweet shrimp, toasted-smoked hazelnuts, sweet 100 tomatoes and crisp fresh pear.)
Diver Sea Scallops with Blood Orange (golden beet & truffle vinaigrette, tropical fruit chutney & macadamia nuts, blood ornage gastrique)
Mahi Mahi with Cucumber Macadamia Nut Relish (lash seared with Thai chili, yellow curry and lemongrass served on sticky rice with sweet chili sauce and cucumber-macadamia nut relish)
paired with: Tranche, Pinot Gris, Columbia Gorge, WA 2006
Cedar Plank Roasted Red King Salmon (Pacific NW Chinook salmon seasoned with Chef Howie’s famous rub, roasted on a cedar plank to impart a subtle woodsy flavor, served with smoked broccoli and citrus rice)
Cedar Plank Roasted Alaskan King Crab Leg (Alaskan king crab menus legs, fresh vegetables and garlic, roasted on a Western red cedar plank, served with lemon and creamy butter sauce)
paired with: Abeja, Chardonnay, Washington State, 2008
Seastar Dessert Trio – White Chocolate Coconut Creme Pie, Vanilla Creme Brulee and Pear Panna Cotta with Lavender Syrup
Mint herb tea
Throughout this magnificent meal we were visited by the Chefs as well as the Somelier.
On Sunday, I headed out for breakfast to meet a friend at Caffe Umbria located in the Pioneer Square area and had an Espresso Macchiato and an Almond Croissant. Such an elegant café with a beautiful pastry case filled with danishes, croissants, and sandwiches, a gelato bar and the full espresso bar. Lost of seating throughout the café with magazines for reading.
I headed back to the hotel, grabbed a sandwich at Whole Foods, checked out of the hotel and headed back to Barnes & Noble in University Village to pick up some books. This was the end to my 48 hours in Seattle and to a great relaxing weekend of food, travel and culture.
Pan Pacific Hotel
2125 Terry Avenue, Seattle, WA
For Reservations Phone: 206-264-8111
2901 NE Blakeley Street, Seattle, WA
Top Pot Doughnuts
2124 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA
Seattle Coffee Works
107 Pike Street, Seattle, WA
Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar
2121 Terry Street, Seattle, WA
2210 Westlake Avenue, Seattle, WA
Caffe Umbria320 Occidental Ave S, Seattle, WA
By: Richard Wolak