January 2013 Bar Bulletin
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January 2013 Bar Bulletin

Dining Out

Power Breakfasts/Brunches: Are They Back?

with Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt


Many of us are old enough to remember the power breakfasts of the 1980s. Meeting with your client or other business people in full suit or tie to get work done and to see and be seen at the height of the 1980s Reagan-era business scene. We remember Gordon Gekko in the movie "Wall Street" mentoring an eager Bud Fox over a power breakfast and associating success.

Just as a recent sequel returned "Wall Street" to popular culture, a recent article in The New York Times has begun to plant a resurgence of power breakfasts in the forefront of our minds. With this trend in mind, we set out to evaluate where lawyers can schedule power breakfasts and suggest how local attorneys can redefine power while brunching.

When searching for power breakfasts our criterion was simple. It needed to be a place where diners meeting for business outnumbered the casual diners in from out of town or local regulars relaxing on their own. We sought places where people go to see and be seen - places known to be frequented by the local power elite.

For power brunches, we acknowledge that including your work-world contacts in recreation is a smart way to develop business relationships. We see that for Gen X'ers and Millennials in the workplace, who may not have been at the power breakfasts of the '80s, relationships can be built at brunch outings with a simple hearty breakfast and a mimosa with significant others.

Traditional Power Breakfast Locations

Nothing says power like five beehives on the roof of the Fairmont Hotel. No, really. We recommend The Georgian, the restaurant inside the Fairmont (411 University Street, Seattle; 621-1700; Fairmont.com/seattle/dining). Despite a dress code of "sharp casual," there is certainly the right number of suits ordering breakfasts such as razor clams and eggs or our personal favorite, "Olympic Rooftop Honey Bee Breakfast," made with layers of fresh berries, honey from the executive chef's beehives in the roof garden, yogurt, granola, a honey-cranberry muffin and foamy, honey-tangerine juice. The Georgian has long been an elegant location and the perfect setting for the classic power breakfast.

On the Eastside, there are a number of power breakfast locations. At the Bellevue Palomino (610 Bellevue Way NE; 425-455-7600; palomino.com), breakfast is frequented by the Eastside's power elite. Who can find fault with a breakfast menu that includes two types of eggs Benedict? For the Paul Ryan-esque fitness folks, the steel cut oatmeal - served with the usual accompaniment of sweet liveners - is delicious.

The protein options include Uli's delicious pork sausage patties, which we think mix quite agreeably with eggs and potatoes in the Parmesan scramble. The coffee is fresh, strong and fast flowing, and the servers are diligent, but pleasantly inconspicuous. And there is never a shortage of Eastside business and political elite.

After a quick, albeit tolled, drive back to Seattle, we found ourselves at Tulio's (1100 Fifth Ave.; 624-5500; tulio.com). Although we were there on an unusual day, we understand the restaurant usually has local business people meeting before work.

The fresh omelet is first-rate and well worth a return visit. It was painless to substitute a low-carb option. Don't tell anyone, but we were feeling celebratory. We think the mimosa hit the mark, but the Bloody Mary leaned heavy on the Worcestershire and salt. If that's your thing, this is your place, but we may stick to coffee and mimosas in the future. Tulio impressed us as a strategic location with good breakfast food and quite visible if you are seeking to see who is there or to be seen.

On the north end of downtown, we went back to a Seattle staple: Tom Douglas's Lola (2000 Fourth Ave.; 441-1430; tomdouglas.com/restaurants/lola). Because it's so close to so many hotels (it's in the Andra and there are three other hotels within a block), we expected more of a travel crowd than a business-in-Seattle crowd, but not so.

From 8 to 9 a.m., Seattle's power-breakfast business crowd outnumbered the obvious travelers. It was clear that there were business introductions, strategy meetings and other commerce-related interactions happening over the morning meal. And power food it was.

We tried the mushroom scramble, which was tasty. We had a "Lola Breakfast"; the over-easy eggs with warm, soft yolks were done correctly (something few restaurants can pull off, in our experience). And the steel cut oats provided one in our party with enough power to almost skip lunch. Almost. Overall, a great spot for a power breakfast and a power breakfast crowd, although the sweet tooth in our party wanted to see more sweet options on the menu.

We explored the boundary line between downtown and the booming South Lake Union area by checking out Urbane (1639 Eighth Ave.; 676-4600; http://urbaneseattle.com). The breakfast crowd appeared dominated by hotel guests, not by local businessmen. But we suspect that may change now that Olive 8 - the hotel that hosted "Top Chef" Season 10 - is being shown with such regularity on television.

We think Urbane is a fine place to meet and connect. The steel cut oats compared well with others we've had around town, and the eggs Florentine were flavorful and something we would order again.

An honorable mention to Sazerac (1101 Fourth Ave., Seattle; 624-7755; sazerac.com) for its proximity and fun breakfast menus. We truly love the "Rustic Pain Perdu," a French toast with spiced pecans and bananas Foster.

Brunching for Business

Let's face it, our business development lives do not remain confined to Monday through Friday. Sometimes you need to develop relationships slowly and comfortably in a more social manner. We have two places to recommend that are less about being seen and more about building the foundation biscuit for future business gravy.

Do you share a love of running with your client? If you're in the Columbia City area, we recommend you try Geraldine's Counter (4872 Rainier Ave. S.; 723-2080; geraldinescounter.com), a south-end favorite. This bright and bustling spot serves breakfast all day. The decor is warm and inviting with exposed brick walls, high wood beams, and both booths and counter seating by the kitchen.

We were wowed by the fast and friendly service, and the delish egg dishes. We tried the herb, goat cheese, caramelized onion and salmon omelet (yum!) and "Geraldine's Casserole," which came in its own little casserole dish filled with eggs, hash browns, sausage and cheese. It is a must try for those who develop business by going for a run with their business contacts. Carb loading on Geraldine's rotating pancake and french toast specials will help you power through that soggy run around nearby Seward Park or serve as a pleasant reward. Bon appetit!

We don't know about you, but we tend to develop business contacts through our significant others or our friends. That's why we adore the West Seattle Jak's Grill (4548 California Ave. SW; 937-7809; jaksgrill.com). On a week­end morning, the average crowd looks like a sea of double dates. The tables tend to have two couples catching up over Jak's famous potato pancakes topped with grilled filet mignon and poached eggs, finished with bearnaise served with challa toast and fresh fruit.

You can't help but overhear about how so-and-so is doing relocating his business or how so-and-so got a new job. It is the perfect place to cement a relationship over a "manmosa" - an oversized mimosa.

We also hear rumors that the nearby Ma'ono Fried Chicken & Whiskey (4437 California Ave. SW; 935-1075; maono.springhillnorthwest.com) has bottomless mimosas with its brunch and large tables to fit multiple couples. If you follow us on Twitter (@Schwabedinesout), you may have seen a photo of our fried chicken feast there last month. Sadly, we have not made it to brunch since the owners transformed the spot from Spring Hill to Ma'ono last year.

Looking for a creative way to entertain a client who has come into town and wants to stay through Saturday afternoon? Offer to take him or her to brunch at Cafe Campagne (1600 Post Alley; 728-2233; campagnerestaurant.com) or Steelhead Diner (95 Pine St., Pike Place Market; 625-0129; steelheaddiner.com), and to walk through the Market.

Cafe Campagne's menus are inspired by the cuisines of Provence and southern France. We recommend the oeufs en meurette - poached eggs with a sauce of pearl onions, bacon and champignons in red wine-foie gras sauce on garlic croutons, with pommes frites. At Steelhead Diner we gravitate to the "Sequimbled" eggs, which are poached eggs with jumbo lump, Dungeness crab meat and hollandaise sauce.

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is a multiservice, Northwest regional law firm with offices in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and Bend. For comments on this article or to share your favorite places to eat or drink with the Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt attorneys, contact Christopher Howard at 206-407-1524 or email at choward@schwabe.com; see also www.schwabe.com/dining_out.aspx. Follow us on twitter @schwabedinesout.


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