Whether it's for the "tiny, tender snails" or "heart-breaking view of Elliott Bay" praised by the Seattle Times, Maximilien beckons diners for exceptional French cuisine and picturesque surroundings. Since first opening its doors back in 1997, the Parisian-inspired restaurant has strived to embody the Old-World charm of France, from the antique mirrors that dot the walls of the dining room to the rooftop herb garden to the elderly French man covered in charm bracelets who stands in a corner. Working with local farms and fishermen, executive chef Christian Potvin crafts housemade pâte, boeuf bordelaise, mussels steamed with white wine and shallots, and escargot baked in garlic and parsley butter.
At Portage, a menu of fine French cuisine unites with rivers of wine to give diners an authentic European experience. Set sails for a culinary tour of England's southern neighbor with an appetizer of endives, roasted delicata squash, golden raisins, and aged sherry vinegar ($9). The menu presents a selection of seven entrees, including a plate of seared diver scallops, deliciously augmented by potato risotto ($18). Between bites, diners can reprieve their palates with sips of Château de Gaudou, a French red from Cahors ($8). Or, while noshing a hunger-effacing free-range chicken—buttressed by golden raisins, vichy carrots, lardons, and olorosso sherry—nurse a glass of Hiedler Löss white wine, imported from Austria on a ship helmed by sea turtles ($8.50).
Seated on the front patio of Le Pichet, you can almost hear the waves lapping against the shore of Elliot Bay. The café is located mere blocks from Seattle’s waterfront, which means it’s also right next door to Pike Place Market. And yet, despite their proximity to one of the world’s most renowned fish markets, owners Jim Drohman and Joanne Herron harvest most of their inspiration from a place thousands of miles away: France. Jim, for one, is accustomed to following his heart wherever it may lead. He left a career as an aeronautical engineer to learn how to cook in Paris, and brought his love for French cuisine with him when he returned back to Seattle. Joanne’s interest in France took hold much earlier in life—at the age of 19, when she first visited and fell in love with the country’s wine-producing regions. Together, the duo has been serving the Pike Place Market neighborhood for more than 10 years. Though it would feel perfectly at home on a narrow street in the Latin Quarter or perched precariously on the tip of the Eiffel Tower, Le Pichet has become a Seattle institution. And, as you might expect from its location, the menu perfectly marries French culinary techniques with the ingredients of the Pacific Northwest, resulting in delicious entrees like grilled trout with broiled Washington asparagus or grass-fed Northwest beef skirt steak with wild ramp butter, mushroom duxelles, and pommes frites.
Diners can truly go the whole hog at Bastille Café & Bar—or the whole fish, fowl, or other creature. Bastille's Whole Beast Feasts use an entire animal to feed groups of up to 16. This may be the most dramatic manifestation of the restaurant's sustainable attitude, but the philosophy also spills onto the rest of the French-inspired menu. Organic and local food from farmers, fishermen, and foragers takes center stage. Dishes such as steamed mussels or grilled flat-iron steak complement a carefully curated wine list that includes chablis from up-and-coming vintners Patrick Piuze and Jean-Pierre Grossot. The results have been widely praised in outlets such as the Seattle Times, which lauded the restaurant's "terrific steak frites" and "authentic Parisian air," the latter piped in from the ventilation system at the Louvre. Bastille's menu isn't the only part of the restaurant filled with foraged ingredients. Pieces of the restaurant itself are, too, including a church buttress and street light scavenged from Paris and art-deco sconces created right in Washington. The eye candy often continues outside the windows: "At brunch, the fluffy omelets and the farmers' market people-watching are top-notch," wrote Seattle Magazine in naming Bastille an Editor's Pick.
Fans of French patisserie will travel deep into Ballard to belly up to the counter at Honoré Artisan Bakery, known for its delectable macarons sold in flavors like salted caramel, passionfruit and lavender chocolate. Others opt for the caramel-topped Koign Amman, a fluffy pastry the size of a baseball, to go along with a handcrafted coffee. While this petite bakery doesn’t offer much in the way of seating, aside from sidewalk chairs and a hidden patio, the simple interior still sports a few homey touches, like an aging wooden credenza that doubles as a stand for coffee lids and napkins. Local fans (and there are many) don’t seem to mind much, if only because the baked goods here are unstoppably delicious. Take home a box of gougeres, a lemon meringue tart dotted with kisses of spun sugar, a pear tart or a dense single-serving honey cheesecake.