Treats and Tragedies on the Road: Valentine's Weekend in Seattle, Day 3 (Pike Place Market Grill, Nordstrom Grill, Beecher's SeaTac Cafe)

Last day (well, half day) in Seattle.  Everyone was raring to get out of the hotel and cram in some last-chance fun.

Well, everyone except Cousin It...

Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit.  After two straight days of constant walking, we were feeling a little sore, tired, blistery, etc.  Mentally though, we were still mostly excited.  Mostly.  Luckily mind prevailed over matter, so we put ourselves together, checked out of the hotel after once again having our bags thrown into the storage closet, and headed to...where else...Pike Place Market again.

Everyone else had decided to make it a "greatest hits" kind of morning.  The roommate went back to Ellenos for the second day in a row.  The wee one had Daily Dozen's doughnuts FOR THE THIRD STRAIGHT MORNING.  The tween, after two days of non-stop hinting and pleading for more al pastor tacos, finally got to go back to Los Agaves.  They were getting things they knew they loved, and meanwhile your humble narrator was staring down the possibility of a second trip to Seattle in less than two years with not one truly good seafood meal.  This...would...not...stand.

There are actually several seafood options available in the morning at Pike Place, but most of them aren't grab-and-go friendly, which is what I needed.  The plan was to get some quick fuel into our systems and head back to the Pacific Science Center to take another stab at seeing the Pompeii exhibit.  This ruled out things like seafood omelets and oyster frittatas, and the more I looked around the less time I had to order and eat.  In desperation I found myself at the Market Grill, which basically has sandwiches or platters in five styles (wild Coho salmon, Alaskan halibut, prawns, portabello mushrooms, and chicken), plus clam chowder and various sides.  My initial thought was that fifteen dollars is a helluva lot to pay for a fish sandwich, but as I said I was desperate.  Plus, halibut is ALWAYS pricey.

Alaskan halibut sandwich

I guess I was expecting your typical battered or breaded deep-fried fish sandwich, because I was seriously surprised when I unwrapped this thing.  No breading, batter, or fryer oil in sight.  The obviously fresh halibut had been blackened and grilled, and was served on baguette (also grilled, NEVER underestimate how much better toasted or grilled bread makes a sandwich) with lettuce, tomato, big chunks of grilled sweet onion, and a rosemary-infused mayo.  All of the components are sourced fresh daily from the Market, and WOW was it good.  I would never have guessed that my first truly decent seafood meal in Seattle would come in the form of a sandwich, but there you have it.

Back on the Monorail to Seattle Center, where we were confronted with the exact same situation as the day before.  All tickets for the Pompeii exhibit were sold out until well after we had to be at the airport for our flight home (and since the exhibit closes in nine days, I guess I'm NEVER going to see it...sigh).  So here we were; full, time to kill, and in need of entertainment.  And that's how we ended up at Plan B: Chihuly Garden and Glass.  You can read about the artist here, but basically it's a LOT of glass art crammed into a relatively small space, with pieces both indoors and outside.  It was gorgeous, and from what I understand the outdoor pieces are even more impressive at night.  I'm not going to subject you to all the pictures I took, but here are my favorite half dozen:

Okay, I guess that's enough art.  I still would have rather seen the Pompeii thing, but this was a nice (and much less expensive) consolation prize.  Pro tip: go to Seattle in February if you want to check out museums, it's "Museum Month" and a lot of the downtown hotels have passes that will get you discounts on admission to more places than you'll have time to visit.

"We come here to read about FOOD, monkey boy!"  I know, I know.  And everyone was feeling a little peckish again after we finished exercising our shutter button fingers.  Unfortunately, all the walking around Pike Place and then Chihuly had further weakened our already taxed bodies.  For once, I had no real agenda as to where we should eat, so I asked the roommate for input as we stepped off the monorail into the heart of downtown again.  "Someplace close" was at the top of her list.  Everyone was really sick of walking at this point.  A little smartphone wizardry revealed the highest-rated eatery in the immediate area: Nordstrom Grill.

Let me clarify:  this is an eatery, one of three actually, inside Nordstrom's downtown Seattle store.  I was wary at first, I mean this is an eatery in a store after all, and I'd been to the K-mart cafe as a kid.  But then again, I guess if K-mart sold $500 t-shirts, their cafes might be worth eating at.  Every review site I looked at ranked this place at least four stars.  I knew that restaurants in stores was a thing out East, but I guess it never occurred to me that we might have some over on this side of the country.  I put my name on the waiting list and...we waited.  We used the restrooms, looked at clothes, and finally sat wherever we could find an accommodating surface.  When our table was ready, we trudged inside gratefully.

Martini with a twist in a cute little glass

The prematurely old man in my really dug the decidedly old school vibe of the place.  First order of business: alcohol.  I had to psych myself up to get on a plane in a few hours, after all.  So while everyone else was working through water, soda, and tea, I was downing one of the best martinis I've ever been served.  Look how clear it is!  Is it possible they stirred that sucker rather than obliterating it in a cocktail shaker?  I'd like to believe so.  It was crisp, it was ice cold, it was delicious, and it was gone almost immediately.  I mourned its loss by ordering another.

Delicious bread with whipped butter

While I nurtured my growing buzz, we shared complimentary bread and perused the menu.  The younger child ordered chicken fingers, no surprise there.  The older child then surprised the hell out of me one last time on this trip by ordering a cup of French Onion soup and a Caesar salad...little miss meat and potatoes was really going all out this trip.  The roommate was also feeling the soup and salad vibe, also choosing the French Onion but opting for Cobb on the salad front.  As for me, I was convinced that I was going to die shortly, as I always am when I'm about to fly.  I wanted something yummy, substantial, and in this case worthy of the amazing cocktails I was consuming.  I decided that the Prime Rib French Dip would fit the bill nicely.

Kids meal chicken fingers

Man, I've posted a lot of pictures of chicken nuggets/strips/fingers on this blog over the past (almost) five years.  Kids, man.  What can I tell you?  The portion was generous, they're all white breast meat, and they came with skin-on fries, barbecue sauce, and fresh fruit.  They were breaded, not overly so since you could kind of see the chicken through it in places, well-seasoned, and not greasy at all.  The kid liked them, that's all that matters.

French Onion soup

I'm not gonna lie, I was a little jealous of the soup that the roommate and tween got.  It was rich, it was balanced, it was covered in so much nicely browned cheese that it was pouring down the sides of the bowls.  And chives.  I freaking love chives.  But I wanted to save just a little bit of room for when we got to the airport (more on that later).

Caesar salad

Other than the al pastor tacos, this is the thing from the trip that stuck with the tween the most.  Simple and classic, it was all romaine lettuce, garlic croutons, Caesar dressing, and parmesan.  LOTS of parmesan.  And if the blizzard of cheese on the salad itself wasn't enough, there was also a parmesan crisp.  We're all big cheese fans, so this met with the approval of the entire table.

Cobb Salad

I didn't try any of the roommate's salad.  I'm not particularly fond of chicken (though I love everything else involved, especially the bleu cheese), and I had my own food to contend with by this point.  She's also not as loquacious as I when it comes to things like this, so what you're looking for from her in terms of positive response is superlatives like "amazeballs".  Basically as long as she keeps her head down and keeps eating, it's a good sign.  The bleu cheese had a lot of bleu, the bacon looked really crisp, the avocado was ripe...I'm sure it was just fine.

Prime Rib French Dip

I don't think I could have picked a better accompaniment for my beverage (and for those of you who say that my beverage accompanied my sandwich, you didn't taste this martini).  Super thin-sliced prime rib with lots of pink meat, perfectly melted sharp white cheddar, parmesan toasted baguette (yeah, it was a bread-heavy day), a very flavorful au jus, and let's talk about those fries for a moment.  Unless you're ordering off the kiddie menu, french fries at Nordstrom Grill come with horseradish aioli.  I even ordered a side of ketchup for the fries so I could use the horseradish on my sandwich instead.  And not only was all of this good, it was actually fairly reasonably priced.  No worse than you'd pay in a comparable restaurant, at any rate.  Aside from elbowing a glass of ice water off the table, which I still ascribe to general clumsiness and not the two martinis, it was a terrific lunch.

After that it was back to the hotel to collect our bags, and then one last trip on the Light Rail to the airport.  Check in was easy, security a little less so than in Boise but I guess that's to be expected, and then there was nothing to do but wait, chatting, reading, playing with our phones and sipping our various Starbucks drinks.  Still, I had one last thing I had to do.

Even though I had been to Pike Place Market four times in two and a half days, I hadn't managed to hit Beecher's Handmade Cheese.  Okay, I may have ducked in for a second to grab a sample or two, but I left empty-handed once I had consumed said samples.  I wanted to get some of their curds for my mother as a thank you for driving us to and from the airport, and to rectify the fact that I hadn't tried any of their hot food yet.  And wouldn't you know it, there's a Beecher's cafe and mini-store in SeaTac International.  I got some cheese for Mom, and a little of their World's Best Mac and Cheese for myself.

World's Best Mac and Cheese...that's the name, not the review

Is it the world's best?  Obviously not.  If you thought you would get that in an airport, well, you're a little silly.  It's just a cute name, evidenced by the fact that they sell four other varieties.  Still, it's damn good.  One last little taste of Seattle before heading home.

One interesting side note here.  I'm sure there are some Dr. Pepper fans among you, and most of the people in our little group count ourselves as such.  Living here, you kind of take for granted that places serving Coke products also carry Dr. Pepper.  Turns out that's not the case in other places.  In Seattle, for example, we tried to order Dr. Pepper at no less than three establishments and were told they just didn't have it.  So when Mom showed up to collect us, we headed straight to McDonald's for a Dr. Pepper fix.  We're not addicts or anything, but there's something about being repeatedly told that you can't have something that just kind of makes you crave it.  Anyway, I've rambled enough for one entry (and one trip).  Happy trails, buckaroos...

Market Grill on UrbanspoonNordstrom Grill on UrbanspoonBeecher's Handmade Cheese on Urbanspoon

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