Coho Cafe's two locations help their diners fight the weather—whatever that might be. In the winter, large rock fireplaces send heat bouncing off curved architecture and metal art while stomachs warm with Southwestern spices. In the summer, cool Pacific breezes fan guests on the outdoor patios while they sip cocktails and sink into cod tacos. But no matter what the temperature outside, there's an undeniable flair to the restaurant's Northwestern seafood. It's something viewers of KING 5's Evening Magazine have noticed too—they've lauded Coho for having the best New American cuisine in western Washington four times since 2008.
The cornerstone of these accolades is the kitchens' culinary restlessness. The executive chefs of both locations revamp the Fresh Sheets menu of weekly specials every two weeks to make use of seasonal ingredients and flavors. What results are bold plates such as pit-roasted salmon cooked over apple wood, and stir-fried coconut green curry with prawns and ginger-jasmine rice. Each bite pairs with a Northwestern wine as well—a fitting drink for any season.
Crab spring rolls. Thai curry penne. Grilled beef tenderloin. At the heart of this cuisine is executive chef Alvin Binuya, a man who has been profiled in Seattle Dining! and immersed in the world of food since he was just a boy, using his parent's kitchen as a culinary laboratory to forge new flavors and antidotes for stale gingerbread men. He went on to hone his skills in culinary school and numerous restaurants before settling at Ponti Seafood Grill. Drawing from this expertise and using locally-sourced ingredients, the chef fuses pan-Asian, European, and Pacific Northwestern influences to forge signature dishes such as grilled wild king salmon.
Ponti's dining spaces echo the villas of Tuscany. Warm colors and window-lined walls surround the restaurant's visitors as they sip selections from an award-winning wine list. Elsewhere, four private dining rooms proffer scenic views of the giant tarter-sauce bottles that float through Seattle's Ship Canal.
Armed with numerous accolades, including a James Beard Award and a four-star review from the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Flying Fish scours the seas to craft a regularly updated menu of taste-bud-baiting dishes plated with organic and wild-harvested ingredients. Tearing attention away from the elegant art and floor-to-ceiling windows set in Flying Fish's scarlet and amber walls, a bounty of small plates tasks diners with choosing between starters such as crispy fried calamari with honey-jalapeño mayonnaise and thai crab cake dressed with a lemongrass aioli. Entrees span such flavorful offerings as seared rare yellowfin tuna, served alongside roasted fall vegetables and drizzled with a potato-onion jus, and cumin-marinated opah, a prodigious deep-water catch dished up with black-lentil dal, vegetable pakoras, and a yogurt-dill sauce. The restaurant departs from its piscine proclivities for dishes such as Painted Hills new york steak with red wine demi-glace and home-style buttermilk fried chicken with mashed potatoes and broccoli.
Executive chef Garrett Michael Brown doesn't skip steps, in cooking or in business. An avid gardener and hunter, and clandestine stamp collector, Brown has a penchant for taking his ingredients directly from the field and transforming them into delicious meals. He is also known for transforming simple wine bars into culinary destinations, which he did at Verve Wine Bar in Columbia City. Now manning the stoves at Belltown hotspot Branzino, Brown incorporates organic, sustainable ingredients into rotating menus of northern Italian fare.
Diners can gaze into the open kitchen to see chefs pan-searing wild scallops and stoking the wood-fired oven for pizzas made with dough, cheese, and cured meats made in-house daily. Fresh gnocchi with nettle pesto, ricotta salata, and pine nuts consistently shares space on the ever-changing menu alongside grilled octopus with puttanesca-style sauce and duck-confit pizzas with smoked mozzarella and dried cherries. Servers can help guests find wine pairings from an extensive list of varietals that highlights the finest grapes of Italy and the Pacific Northwest.
Queen City Grill's chefs seek out culinary inspiration on land and in the sea, creating a menu that earned praise from the Seattle Times in 2007 and garnered a rating of "very good to excellent" from Zagat. Fillets of Alaskan king salmon and Oaxacan prawns line the grill tops alongside dry-aged new york steaks, slowly roasting over the flames. The chefs embrace northwestern flavors by sourcing local greens for the house salads and topping hand-packed burger patties with Beecher's cheeses. To accompany each meal, servers can recommend wines from the restaurant's 500-bottle selection, which features an extensive spread of crisp whites and bold reds from Washington, Oregon, and beyond.
Opposite the dining room's immense wooden bar, booths line the wall of brick-lined windows, illuminated by sconces and small windowsill lamps. The tables on the outdoor patio area, however, rely on the romantic light of the restaurant's staff of indentured fireflies.
Cellars' dining room is an elegant, softly lit space set against the backdrop of a cocktail lounge. Glistening white lights stretch across the tops of booths, and exposed brick adds a rustic charm. The simple, yet modish decor complements such dishes as the filet mignon, presented atop a mound of asiago mashed potatoes. That prime cut of meat anchors a dinner menu that includes seafood creations, as well as six different gourmet burgers.