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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

PNW Trip: Day 8 - Seattle

Our big day in Seattle started around Pikes Place Market, and pretty much stayed around that area.

Pikes Place Market was PACKED, but how could anyone expect otherwise on a Saturday? There were some impressive buskers outside, including a hula-hooping, guitar-and-harmonica-player.

Inside, we shuffled along like squished, upright cattle. There was an abundance of dahlias for sale.

Of course, there was tons of seafood, but I was more excited about fresh local vegetables.

There are several floors to PP, and after 2 hours there, I still don't think I saw it all. Part of that is because we spent 45 minutes, going around in circles, trying to find the Gum Wall. We did find it, though, which everyone got a disgusted kick out of.

I made a point to visit the Gum Wall after I read about it on the 101 Places NOT to Visit List, which I posted here.

We fed the parking meter and wandered around the waterfront area, which is down the street from Pikes Place. Everyone wanted to eat at Elliott's on the Bay, which is great for seafood lovers, but terrible for vegans! I had no idea we would be eating here, so I couldn't call in advance, but as soon as our name was put on the (short) waiting list, I spoke to the hostess about vegan options, asked if the veggie burger was vegan, etc. She said she'd look into it for me. After we were seated, our server came over and talked about the specials, and then asked about "the vegan at the table." Yep, that's me. She said she asked the chef and their veggie burger is not vegan, but that she could probably get a "nice, big salad and a plate of grilled vegetables" for me, which I said sounded great!

She came back later to take everyone else's orders, then told me that the chef would have a jasmine rice cake, grilled peppers, and grilled zucchini for me. I said that sounded fine, but as she walked away, I thought, That's it? That doesn't seem like a whole lot of veggies. Surely there's more in the dish.

Well, my suspicions were right. When the food runner brought back plates piled high with seafood and meat for the other people in our group, he handed me this.

Here, I'll even break it down for you:

That's a plain ol' jasmine rice cake with a sesame seed topping. No herbs or veggies hidden inside. Then there's the slice of grilled pepper, slice of grilled yellow squash, and slice of grilled zucchini. Not a whole lot of flavor to that, either.
Since we had already been at the restaurant for quite awhile at this point, I didn't bother to put in an order for a salad or anything. I didn't want to hold up the group any longer. This did, however, make me a little nervous about our dinner reservation at the Space Needle later.

We did some more walking and wandering, stopped at G & P's hotel for a costume change, and then we hoofed it to the Space Needle.

It was hoppin' around the Seattle Center because Bumbershoot was happening (an annual music festival). We checked in at the desk on the main floor, then waiting for the elevator to come back down to take up the next group of people.

In 43 seconds, we were whisked from the main floor of the Space Needle to the classy, revolving SkyCity restaurant.

We really lucked out that night with great weather for great visibility of beautiful views of the city.

The restaurant makes a full rotation every 45 minutes. The revolving was a little disorienting at first, but we all got used to it after 15 minutes or so. It was bizarre to get lost in conversation, then glance out the window and realize you're somewhere else! Returning from the bathroom was confusing, too. I made a full lap around the dining area, trying to find our table!

Okay, let's get to the food now. Before I made our reservation, I emailed SkyCity and told them that there would be a wheat-free vegan in attendance, if we actually made the reservation, and asked if they could accommodate that. Their response was reassuring, so I called and made the reservation, stating again that there would be a wheat-free vegan in the party. Again, I was told it would not be a problem.

Sure enough, when our server came to our table, he listed off the specials (all meaty), and then asked "about the vegan at the table." I raised my hand for the second time that day. He said he spoke to the chef earlier, but wanted to run a dinner idea past me first. He said they had grilled vegetable plate (uh oh! I've heard that before!) that could come with soba noodles or nutty-coconut-rice. I went for the rice. Before we left to check in with the chef, I asked him about the heirloom tomato salad on the menu; could it be made vegan? He said he'd ask about that, too.

When he returned, he said the heirloom salad would be vegan by just removing the mozzarella, so I ordered that for my starter. (Just in case their "grilled vegetable plate" is anything like Elliott's.) And even if it was, this heirloom tomato salad was so phenomenal, I would have pleased with nothing more.

And because these pictures just won't do it justice, anyway, I'm going to go ahead and give you another angle.

I had read on their menu that SkyCity always uses local vegetables in season (in addition to several other sustainable acts), and it really shows with this amazing salad. Those heirloom tomatoes are seriously the best tomatoes I've ever eaten in my life. Sweet, juicy, and just absolutely BURSTING with flavor. Roasted corn, zesty microgreens, and a sweet onion dressing and fresh ground pepper just add to the awesomeness that is this salad. Seriously, I thought I was going to pass out from deliciousness.
More revolving, more views...

And time for the big moment: What is SkyCity's interpretation of a 'grilled vegetable plate?!'

It's good.

Now THIS, is what I'm talkin' about! SkyCity did an amazing job with this dish and far surpassed my expectations (which were lowered after the Elliott's experience). This dish has carrots, squash, peas, spinach, chantrelle mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, red peppers, and asparagus, all grilled to perfection. The rice was a little dry, but it still worked well with the juicy veggies. This was wonderful! I savored every bite.

We all stuffed ourselves silly, but since everyone else ordered dessert, I went ahead and ordered the sorbet trio, a vegan option that was already on the menu.

And what a lovely trio it was: bing cherry, lemon-basil, and mango. Fresh mint and frozen blueberries garnished the plate. I passed this around as much as I could because I just couldn't finish it.

We went to the observation deck after we finished our delightful SkCity dining experience.

We took the oh-so-exciting monorail back to G & P's hotel to say our goodbyes, then L, his sister, and I retrieved her car and headed back to Bellevue. Even though we were all pretty tired, we went out in search of some Bellevue Night Life. We found a club and danced til 2am with the IT crowd. It was interesting!


  1. I REALY want to go to Seattle!! That sorbet looks so yummy, but so does that heirloom salad!
    Oh, and the gum wall...I would have had to check that out too. :o)

  2. Extremely weak offering from that seafood place =/

    But the sky restaurant looks amazing! Have you ever been to the one here near Crown Center? I haven't, but always wanted to.

  3. @Amber, there's a rotating restaurant in Crown Center?!

  4. What a bummer about the first grilled veg plate - I hope it wans't expensive! The dinner looks awesome, though.

  5. Ditto on the veggie plate.
    I was very please with all my Seattle food experiences. Next time you find yourself near Pike's place, Pan Africa is where it is at.