January 2017 Bar Bulletin
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January 2017 Bar Bulletin

Old Seattle Dining Delights of Yesteryear


Out with the old and in with the new. That is the classic New Year’s admonition. But as 2016 turns into 2017, the local news media have been obsessed with commentaries about what happened to the “Old Seattle.” There have been laments about days when four-bedroom houses in Wallingford sold for $125,000 and memories of Frederick & Nelson at Christmastime come to mind. Google it, if you were born after 1980.

These articles took us back to all that has changed in the simple practice of law over some of our careers, the death of the Decennial Digest, as a source of research, and the birth of Lexis and Westlaw online; the death of Friday’s morning calendar in King County and the birth of “word limits” for King County briefs. Fast used to mean overnight or fax and not “Why haven’t you responded to my email from 20 minutes ago?”

But this is a food column. What was eating like in the Old Seattle, before we followed Seattle’s celebrity chefs such as Jason Stratton from Artusi and Spinasse to Aragona, followed by his appearance on “Top Chef” and now Mamnoon and Mbar. What was Seattle food like before Tom Douglas and Renee Erickson put “Seattle Cuisine” on the map? Well youngsters, hang on as two old Seattle lawyers take you on a present-day tour of Old Seattle cuisine.

Let’s Get a Burger on the Hill

Too many choices: Quinn’s, Sam’s, Lost Lake, all superb and “new” but forever and ever, or so it seems, if you went farther north on Capitol and up Broadway, you could get a burger every bit as good or better.

Sitting at Broadway and Roy, the De Luxe Bar & Grill (625 Broadway E.; 324-9697; www.deluxebarandgrill.com) has been serving a variety of killer burgers since Seattle broke out of its infancy and hosted the World’s Fair in 1962. The De Luxe is all that remains on the infamous end of Broadway, from its heyday in the 1970s and ’80s.

However, gone are the ferns and the rum-heavy drinks from the ’80s, and one can now see into and out of the windows of the De Luxe. But favorites like the “Chili Size” burger, served open faced, and the “Classic” remain, along with 20 rotating taps. Yet, the De Luxe has evolved with the times and more current pub favorites, such as an excellent Cubano and outstanding Carolina-style pulled pork, grace the menu. Anchoring North Broadway for 63 years, the De Luxe thrives on.

And we returned (after a long hiatus) to the other famous burger of the ’80s at Roanoke Park Place Tavern(20149 10th Ave. E.; 324-5882; www.roanokeseattle.com). We went on a weeknight without a major sporting event to draw patrons and found a warm and friendly place with very good food. Gone were the crowds of yuppies from the 1980s, replaced by apparent local regulars who gave and received hugs from the servers.

We sat next to the woodstove for a cozy and pleasant winter meal, watching the TVs set mostly to movies instead of sports. We tried the chili, which is made onsite and was very good, served with what appeared to be stone-ground tortilla chips. The chicken quesadilla was also good, with a touch of heat. And the turkey mambo sandwich — turkey, bacon, tomato and Swiss cheese grilled on sourdough and served with a generous side salad — was a hit. Perhaps most surprisingly, the total cost for two of us to eat was less than we often spent for one person to eat on Capitol Hill.

By returning to the Roanoke we have found a place where we can eat near home with well-made food at prices we can afford, as well as very friendly service. What a pleasant flashback. One caution: this is not a wine bar. Stick to the beer or the mixed drinks. And, if there is a major sporting event, expect it to be crowded.

Where To Take the Out-of-Town Client

“My client is in town from Kansas City, where do I go?” Two quandaries that every Seattle lawyer must answer are where do I take counsel from some Midwestern town to show them a Seattle dining experience or where is the best locale for summer cocktails?

Well, the red neon sign at Ray’s Boathouse has hovered over Shilshole since 1952. Ray’s (6049 Seaview Ave. NW; 789-3770; www.rays.com), started by Earl Lasher, Duke Moscrip and Russ Wohlers in 1973, has since been the place to take visiting clients and counsel, with its colorful sunsets and fantastic seafood (except for 1987–88, when it burned to the pier).

Ray’s reintroduced Seattle to the native Olympia oyster and was the birthplace of Seattle’s fixation on the tiny bivalve. We now choose oysters like we chose Washington Cabernet: “I much prefer Round Mountain to Rattlesnake Hills; how about you?” And before QFC advertised Copper River salmon with full-page ads, Ray’s served it to Seattle.

There still may be no finer example of the mix of Northwest food and Seattle’s Asian influences, particularly from Japan, than Ray’s roasted sablefish in sake kasu, i.e., the lees left over from sake production, with jasmine rice. For a simple Seattle classic, choose the steamed Manila clams, simply styled (no leeks or chorizo) with just white wine, butter and garlic. Add a gin and tonic on a July day, and there is no better Seattle dining experience.

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