Monday, January 28, 2008

Cafe Migliore

Cafe Migliore
1215 4th Ave
Seattle, WA 98161
(206) 624-9893
Caffe Migliore in Seattle
Eight out of Ten

I know everyone raves on their barista. I know everyone feels that their barista understands coffee better than all others. I know everyone feels they have the best coffee secret in the java city. And even though I fully understand this, my barista is the best, their coffee is better than the rest, and Cafe Migliore is the best coffee secret in the java city. Hands down, I'll put them up against yours any day of the week.

We stumbled onto this place when we moved downtown and quickly became coffee snobs. Now it is part of our daily weekday (they are closed on weekends) routine. On our second trip we were already regulars, with questions about our dogs (our morning routine includes a morning walk with the dogs) and remembered drinks.

You can tell that everyone working here is passionate about two things, coffee and incredible customer service. They know your name right away. No line seems too long. Situated in the Financial Building, this place provides plenty of seating, unique drink and food options, and very friendly service. Cafe Migliore is always worth a visit, but unforunately they are closed on weekends (and President's Day)...but we deal with it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


1101 4th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 624-7755

Six out of Ten


January is the slowest month for restaurants, so it is the best time for a place to shut down and remodel. One of the places we were eagerly waiting to reopen was Sazerac. Connected to then Hotel Monaco, Sazerac is well known in the city for a great happy hour with a wood fired oven for pizza. We had eaten breakfast there previously, and thought it was a great experience of good food and good service. So we were anxious to see a revamped menu and decor. The remodel is nice, the menu the same and the service has gone a bit down hill.

I like the breakfast menu at Sazerac. All the standards, plus a Bagel and Lox platter, and my favorite "Eggs in Hell" which is a nice red bean Cajun themed breakfast (and gluten free!). This time, I went for the standard American breakfast. Besides the bland potatoes, the eggs were well cooked and the andoie sausage was nice. She went for the Bagel and Lox and was pleased with the food and presentation as well. When it eventually came.

The service was a bit sub par, especially for a white linen restaurant. There seemed to be plenty of people standing around, including the manager bragging about how things were in his previous job, while there were plenty of empty coffee cups in the dining room. It just reminds you that on any given day you could get any given level of service...last time the service was above excellent.
The inside decor is very pleasing with a recently completed remodel. The room feels especially large and private. Although the wood fire oven was not firing at breakfast, it is still the center piece of the room. White linen napkins and designer flatware make for a great dining experience that allows you to forget this restaurant is attached to a hotel.

Sazerac has a great menu prepared well and a distinctive, comfortable ambiance. However, with service a gamble, I would save a visit to Sazerac for happy hour, and skip the breakfast.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

1st Hill Bar and Grill

1st Hill Bar & Grill
901 Madison St
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 623-6333

Three out of TenFirst Hill Bar & Grill in Seattle

There is something comforting walking into a diner with counter stools, freezer jelly on the table, and a waitress who knows every one's name at the counter. It is a piece of Americana; the same place west coast to east coast. And somehow the expectations of top notch cuisine are traded for a nice familiar meal. This is a dive judged more for consistency than taste. 1st Hill is this type of neighborhood hangout that has served up the same food, and ambiance longer than most have been in Seattle.

The menu and the ambiance have a distinctive Greek slant, including the homemade Loukaniko sausage and the statuette of Venus (goddess not planet) at the front door. What gets sacrificed in food eloquence is made up for in personality and service. When requesting a gluten free meal, the response was "You told me that last time" and "would you like more hashbrowns instead". As a local hangout, the prices are a top bargain. This was the least expensive breakfast to date.

I had the eggs and Loukaniko breakfast (being a sucker for homemade sausage, and wanting to say the word Loukinako out loud). She had the eggs/bacon/french toast. Not much can be said about the food other than it met expectations. It was not the best meal, with fake maple syrup, nonexistent spice usage, and some sort of butter margarine mix, but a nice cup of coffee that was frequently refilled (although typically an empty cup).

A classic neighborhood joint, the 1st Hill has a familiar feel when you walk in for the first time. Classic diner food, ambiance and service. Not worth going out of your way for, but if you happen to wake up right next door, tell 'em I sent you.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


2000 4th Ave
(206) 441-1430

Eight out of Ten
Lola in Seattle

Tom Douglas Breakfast: Impeccable service, ambiance, presentation, and menu. Food...ok.

The breakfast menu is small but effective. It has everything you want and several surprises. The made to order doughnuts, which she ordered, were tasty and well presented. I was not daring enough for the octopus/pork belly/squash meal at 9am Sunday. Fortunately, I was able to find the classic egg/potato/meat/(hold the)toast dish. Portions were right sized, leaving us full but not overwhelmed.

The service was spot on as well. A carafe of coffee is provided, so your cup should never get empty (although kind of a shortcut/cop out. :)) Presentation was also impressive with the doughnuts coming in a paper bag to be sugar coated by the waitress by shaking at the table. The cranberry compote and mascarpone topping was also a very nice touch for these. All the other food was flavorful except for the overcooked eggs; although the maple flavored sausage more than made up for this.

The ambiance of Lola comes from an exquisite interior with a clean, industrial feeling and soaring 30foot ceilings. Two rows of private booths provide for a quiet and private meal.

Lola is very much worth a visit with a reasonably priced menu and great experience. I would go soon though, with the hotel and a new high rise condo going up right across the street, this might be a hard table to get soon, even early on a Sunday.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bacco Bistro

Bacco Bistro
1611 First Ave
Seattle, Washington 98101
(206) 443-5443

Two out of Ten
Bacco in Seattle

The essence of this bistro became clear when I overheard the waiter explaining to another patron that this place primarily handles the room service for the Inn at the Market next door. And so the quality of this restaurant's food, service, decor, etc is on par with hotel room service.

The restaurant could be called cute and cozy, but at the same time called tired and overdone. The flowing wall fountain is an interesting touch, but the entire place is in major need of a thorough scrubbing. The menu is limited, and doesn't even include the basic eggs breakfast. The only redeeming menu item is a list of fresh juice combination choices and reasonable prices. The service was slow and sloppy. Our coffee cups were always empty, and we watched the wrong order brought out on three occasions.

I had a smoked salmon omelet, that was more like a caper filled omelet. She had a breakfast croissant, but really had two, since the wrong one came out first. I also think the bleach smell from the cleaning of tables as people left didn't help very much.

This is a place looking for Italian bistro, juice bar, breakfast, room service place. Unfortunate for a place so close to the market. I only hope their room service is better than their table side service. The food was negative, service negative, facilities negative. I would avoid this place unless you are staying at the Inn and too tired to move. And then, just order some juice