Seattle's bustling Pike Place Market might be the last place you'd expect to find an authentic European-style wine cave. But that's exactly what guests to The Tasting Room Seattle find at this tasting cellar nestled between Stewart and Virginia Streets. But while the elegant surrounds might feel distinctly European, the vintages all hail from much closer to home. All of the wines served at this shop––and its sister location in Yakima Valley––come from Washington producers, and each winery featured (Harlequin Wine Cellars and Wilridge Winery, to name a few) is winemaker-owned. To help customers become acquainted with the artisan wines from their home state, the staff offers tastings of current releases and a few library wines, and presents a selection of salumi and cheeses from around the world, with recommendations for pairing or dunking.
Clever Bottle's mixologists and charcuterie chefs source local gourmet ingredients from Pike Place Market for a menu of appetizers, libations, and desserts. Crafted in-house, a selection of bitters house-made with bluebell flowers, chocolate, and the personality of sunshine adds spice to the ever-shifting menu of cocktails. The wine list, which is made up of 98% Seattle varietals, serves as a flavorful guide to the many local wineries that populate it. Abundant candlelight sets a romantic tone for quiet dates or proposals that involve serenading a sweetheart with a champagne flute.
At Poco Wine Room, the influences come from near and far. More than 20 wines available by the glass represent wineries from the Pacific Northwest as well as locales such as Italy, Argentina, France, and Spain. The origins of the food are just as eclectic: the monthly rotating menu may include Albondigas—pork-and-beef meatballs in a tomato piquillo sauce—or orange-chicken skewers topped with crushed almonds, which chefs favoring local ingredients whenever possible. Even the beer list spans the globe, with brews such as Pike Place IPA and Tieton Wild Washington cider sharing billing with standbys like Red Stripe.
In 1992, restaurant owner Carlos Kainz and chef Julie Guerrero first joined forces to open a tiny West Seattle bakery and café, a spot that quickly gained traction and outgrow its modest trappings. The duo packed up the winning operation and moved on to a larger space and a larger vision, renaming their venture Dulces Bistro & Wine and crafting an ambitious menu focusing entirely on Latin-fusion cuisine for dinner. Although Guerrero traces her family heritage back to Mexico, many of her dishes, including paella valenciana and boeuf bourguignon, show strong European influences. Unadulterated Latin staples pepper the menu, such as the green chicken enchiladas that serve as a staple in Mexico City and at Sam I Am’s Cinco de Mayo parties.
From its candlelit tables to its eclectic small plates, The Sitting Room seeks to transport diners to a European bistro. Behind a zinc bar, the staff pours Belgian, Czech, and Mexican beers and creates cocktails such as the Dark and Stormy—dark rum, Campari, muddled lime, and ginger beer—and the Queen Anne, which tops off Maker's Mark and port with a hint of vermouth. Complementing the drinks, a selection of small plates are well suited for sharing, including a salad made with chorizo, dates, and crumbled Spanish blue cheese, and crostini layered with crab, goat-cheese spread, and lemon-olive-oil vinaigrette. The bistro is located within walking distance of many of Seattle's fine-arts venues, making it a prime stop before viewing a play, attending the opera, or kicking a stranger's seat in rhythm with the symphony.
After graduating from college with a degree in English literature, Amy McCray received a gag gift from her father: a spatula that she could use to flip burgers while searching for jobs in her field of study. Amy ran with the joke. She attended culinary school and worked her way up through various kitchens' ranks before opening Eva Restaurant with her husband, James Hondros, in 2001.
Chef McCray's job still involves analyzing structure and composition, albeit in the form of the flavor combinations instead of literature. Her creative menu of refined New American cuisine regularly incorporates classical French, Mediterranean, and South Asian influences. Although she occasionally looks abroad for new ideas, her major sources of inspiration are the vibrant produce and all-natural meats available locally.
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A Wine for Every Dish
Chef McCray's husband, James, assumed the responsibility of creating Eva Restaurant's eclectic, yet accessible wine list. Familiar wines made from Columbia Valley grapes appear alongside bottles from France, Italy, Spain, Austria, and even Greece. To help simplify diners' search for the perfect wine served by the bottle, glass, or water balloon, the restaurant's menu also features a seasonally rotating list of the staff's favorite wines.