From the myriad of intersecting lines at city hall to the modern interpretation of the age-old library, Seattle has some very distinct architectural features that make walking around the city pure delight. While walking down James Street into Pioneer Square, a parking lot perched at a 45-degree angle seems to grow out of the sidewalk. Unassumingly, the entire side of a towering skyscraper on 5th Ave. is done in a simple, tiled mosaic of different colours, which you could easily miss if you weren’t paying close attention. Architectural gems, both hidden and on display, become more striking as you journey through the streets of Seattle.
The central library, located at the corner of 5th and Madison is a building made almost entirely of glass, and looks more like what I imagined the recent addition to the ROM in Toronto to be (instead, they ran out of money and replaced the glass with metal). Seattle’s library was designed by Rem Koolhaas, and the Dutch influence is apparent in the library’s geometric lines and splashes of bright colour amidst an overall more neutral colour palette. There is an entire section done in the colour red: walls, ceilings, floors, staircases, doors. It is both overwhelming and awe-inspiring; it feels as though you’re travelling through a human body, all red on the inside. The escalators aren’t difficult to miss either. They jump out at you, illuminated and fluorescent yellow, taking you all the way up to the top floor Reading Room, which captures the essence of reading pleasure. The glass walls and ceiling provide tons of natural light, even in the Seattle gloom, and people sit in absolute silence. Surprisingly, the entire library seems extremely quiet, or perhaps the acoustics are built in such a way so as to distil noise.
In addition to great architecture, seafood is also at a prime in Seattle. You can buy all sorts of strange, large fish with wide-eyed stares at Pike Place Market (where they throw fish just for your entertainment), not to mention piles of Dungeness crab you can eat to your heart’s content. Clam chowder is a popular staple in the market and throughout the city, and it is the perfect, hearty remedy for a cold day in the Seattle rain.
If you’re looking for a more substantial meal than soup, you can head to Blueacre Seafood Restaurant located at 7th and Olive (http://blueacreseafood.com/) owned by Chef Kevin Davis and his wife Terresa, who was our hostess that evening. She was charming and personable, offering advice on what to eat and claiming “I married my husband for those crab cakes.” The service was friendly and professional overall, and the meal was truly gourmet without being overly expensive (this was in fact one of the owners’ mandates when they opened the place, and they have succeeded). Having filled up on too many carbs, I chose not to have a starter, but they brought me two complementary smoked salmon bites, which I always equate with pure class.
It’s these small touches, such as lemon-infused butter for the bread and horseradish brown butter for the main, which make a meal memorable. I also liked that for many dishes, you can choose either 5 oz. or 8 oz. of fish, so you can leave room for dessert if you wish. My main consisted of parmesan crusted Alaskan halibut, which was crispy on the outside but tender on the inside, truffled parsnip puree, which tasted like a lighter and more complex version of mashed potatoes, wilted spinach, and the brown butter that garnished every bite and disappeared too quickly.
Even with a bottle of wine, this meal for two was under $100, making it a top choice for a delicious and memorable dinner out. If you only have one dinner out in Seattle, make it Blueacre.