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.
The culinary artists at Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar grant palates the royal treatment with their smorgasbord of fresh, regionally sourced seafood and oysters, hearty steak-house cuisine, and all-star wine list, which earned the restaurant the Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. With a storied resumé that includes manning the kitchen at the prestigious Palisade Restaurant, as well as appearances on Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Presents: American Gladiators, executive chef and owner John Howie focuses his culinary aesthetic on the cuisine of the Pacific Northwest while he experiments with exotic flavors from around the globe. His menu of refined dishes and homey meals furnishes stomachs with alluring flavors from both land and sea, as tasted in the sockeye-salmon poke, dungeness-crab risotto, and fire-grilled filet mignon.
Each Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar location surrounds guests in a cozy cocoon of blond woods and warm light—an ideal setting for polishing off plates of shellfish stews, steak and potatoes, and fresh ice cream and chocolate truffles. While admiring each restaurant’s sleek interior, diners can also enjoy the many notes found in Seastar’s 14-page wine list.
At Flat Iron Grill, executive chef Jeff Olsen puts an international twist on traditional steak-house staples made with locally sourced organic ingredients. Small doses of chorizo, chimichurri, or chili-spiked truffle sauce lend distinctive Latin and South American flavors to the menu’s grilled steaks, black cod, and clam pappardelle. To accompany the rustically roasted entrees, the bartenders pour tipples from their selection of more than 180 whiskeys, which include rich bourbons, smoky scotches, and locally distilled creations.
Echoing the menu’s rustic elegance, the Western-themed dining room surrounds guests in warm-colored walls and metal work from Gagnon Welding. A spotlighted longhorn skull hangs on a terra-cotta red wall alongside local artists' black-and-white photographs of Washington landscapes. Patrons can also dine on an outdoor patio shaded by light-tan umbrellas and clouds lassoed into place by helpful cowboys.
One wouldn’t normally think of fish as having cheeks, but at Fins Bistro, they’re on the menu. The mildly sweet halibut medallions are indicative of the restaurant’s offerings: though mostly seafood, it’s a diverse balance of local and exotic flavors. The Northwest Trio touts the aforementioned cheeks with crab cakes and wild salmon, whereas sashimi-grade ahi tuna is seared and complemented by sautéed spinach. Beyond seafood, the staff cooks meaty entrees such as lamb shank braised in chianti, hinting at Fins' extensive wine list. The selection presents more than 100 varietals culled from near and far locales such as Washington, New Zealand, and Chile. Fins Bistro welcomes guests to sup in the yellow-hued dining room adorned with blue curtains or outside on the patio with large-enough table umbrellas to be used as tarps for baseball fields.
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 and whose recipes have been featured in Seattle Dining!.
Binuya has been immersed in the world of food since he was just a boy, when he would use his parents' 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 Northwest influences to create 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 give scenic views of the giant tarter-sauce bottles that float through Seattle's Ship Canal.
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.