outdoor eating

even i, so difficult to please when it comes to weather, not content unless it’s at least 75 and cloudless, have been enamored with the past couple of weeks.  the balminess is (nearly) reliable, root beer float season is at it’s peak, and my second thought, right after “i want a glass of rosé”, is always “where can i eat outside?”

le pichet is generally the first result of my mental scan, largely because it’s steps from my apartment.  four tables spill onto the first avenue sidewalk, and as a passerby it’s difficult not to be jealous of those lounging on hard chairs with hazelnut filled salads and plates of ham in front of them.  it does need to be a warm day to sit there, as little sun bypasses neighboring buildings beyond ten am (and who’s up before ten?)

just weeks ago, and in what seemed like a matter of hours, a little wooden plateau appeared upon the sidewalk in front of pichet’s capitol hill counterpart, café presse.  it’s tiny, but comfortable, and open late.  

i eye the pink door patio during my post alley comings and goings.  the view’s beautiful, the seating plentiful, and it’s a must-stop place for the cruise ship folk.  though i’ll admit it’s been some time since i’ve eaten there, i’m a bit skeptical about the food.  i hear very little about it from seattlites and my own memories aren’t enthusiastic, but i need to give it another chance before i write it off.  

outdoor café campagne (below, left) is a sliver of space in post alley.  afternoon sun reaches tables with ease, and if sun weren’t such a rare commodity in seattle, it might be too much.  the slight overhanging roof and loveliness of the wine list, however, make it seem a desirable place to rosé away the afternoon.  and so it would be, if recent meals weren’t so disappointing.  

nothing was seasoned – the salad niçoise needed salt, pepper, dressing, acid, anything to perk it up.  the tarte flambée was overloaded with crème fraiche, also unseasoned, and the crush not nearly as rich and texturally interesting as others i’ve had – both at the café and elsewhere (notably august in nyc).    

several weeks ago i had a particularly luxurious day off.  i was being taken out to lunch and after (sadly) having to rule café campagne out, decided to experiment.  despite it’s central location in the middle of pike place market, i’d only ever had a glass of champagne at place pigalle. their outdoor area is just a few tables but, sitting beneath the giant veuve clicquot umbrellas gives a slender but lovely view of puget sound.  

the wine list is lovely and varied, and a midday menu offers enough appealing sounding options to create a full meal.  and yet, the calamari is oddly chalky and dull.  i’m frugal, and generally finish everything, but just couldn’t finish this.  the crab and fresh mango timbale was pretty and it’s delicateness reminded me of something served at a tea party.  it was the best thing we ate, while a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a fried duck egg was just short of satisfying.  

and so, days later, we found ourselves back at txori (picture way above, right).  this was my second experience on the patio, an armpit shaped area about the size of the restaurant’s two bathrooms combined, surrounded on three sides by brick walls.  it’s classy, however, with wood deck floors, red accents, and lights strung across.  there’s sun in the afternoon and heaters at night.  i can convince myself i’m in nyc or europe, whichever sounds better at the moment.  

the food is unfailingly fantastic, the wine and cocktails perfect and fitting (especially that pizarro).  and it’s all just better in the sun.

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~ by patmybutter on August 13, 2008.

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