We are optimistic types - perhaps that is why we like to try new restaurants. And, we like to think we will be getting tax refunds.
Since we like to eat, we turn our attention to where to spend the money the government sends back to us for this month's issue of Dining Out. We decided to try out a few old favorites or restaurants that we keep meaning to get to that we have not reviewed.
How to Cook a Wolf
On the top of Queen Anne, north of the main drag part of the avenue, How to Cook a Wolf (2208 Queen Anne Ave., N.; 838-8090; ethanstowellrestaurants.com/locations/how-to-cook-a-wolf/) sits next to a corner with several dining establishments. We went to How to Cook a Wolf for a celebratory dinner. Even mid-week, the reservation was necessary and the establishment crowded; when full, it has a high ambient noise level.
We had heard a lot about this restaurant and had high expectations for the food. By and large, they were met. The roasted beet salad, with pistachios and Belgian endive and ricotta, was very good. The beef Carpaccio was a very different presentation including white anchovy. We also split two pasta dishes: the gnocchi, which came with yellow foot chanterelle and fonduta, and the rigatoni with pork sausage, saffron and tomato. Those were very good.
We tried a number of other dishes, but the one item that would bring us back for more was the smoked pork chop with nettle spaetzel. When we return for that, we will order more of the scallops with lentil and smoked ham shank.
And, do not forget the desserts. We indulged in the berry semifreddo and a chocolate mousse-style dessert, which was our favorite. When you are finished, you receive a gift of fresh pasta, which you must refrigerate when you get home.
When we asked the origin of the restaurant's name, we were provided with a vintage copy of the book for which it is named. This was a good choice for a celebratory meal, but, at least in the winter when the windows are closed, be prepared for a very engaging noise level.
Fairmont Olympic Hotel
When the time comes to pamper yourself for a job well done and to spend that tax refund in style (or if a refund was not your tax reality, then to sigh in relief that another tax season is in the books) the elegance of the Georgian Room at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel (411 University St.; 621-1700; Fairmont.com/Seattle) is difficult to beat. Its sweeping ceilings and gracious décor ooze tradition and service, even though being there tempts one to speak in hushed tones.
Afternoon tea is served with or without the option of champagne. The selection of teas is not exotic, but is, as one would expect given the setting, thoughtful, varied and traditional. Earl Grey and oolong are our recurrent choices, sticking with the traditional theme.
Next, a tiered platter to be shared by every two diners arrives (along with a separate platter to accommodate allergies for one of us). The top tier displays scones, slightly sweet and crumbly, with raspberry jam. Devonshire cream made the day suddenly look even brighter. The second tier sets out a variety of savory sandwich options: salmon with burnt lemon marmalade; truffle ham and egg salad on rye; shrimp and cucumber (the favorite for at least two of us); and pickled walnuts with beet root. The flavors were interestingly combined and marvelously balanced. As dainty and appealing as the bite-size presentation is, it is surprisingly satisfying and filling.
Still, be sure to plan for dessert. The bottom tier held the show-stopping gems - both in visual delight and flavor - of afternoon tea: lollipop, passion fruit-flavored macaroon, chocolate tart, hazelnut puff and raspberry lemon cream. Each dessert is almost too beautiful to eat.
The individual teapots are attentively tended, always full and hot. The most elegant touch - the one thing that makes tea awkward to drink in a public setting, i.e., the interminable question of how to handle that unwieldy tea bag - is answered in a traditional way. They use loose tea and a silver strainer is placed over one's cup when the tea is poured, then set aside on a china plate. Not tacky at all.
So pull up your chair, sit up a little straighter and start sipping tea. The Fairmont Olympic is an elegant place to take off part of an afternoon and to enjoy your tax return.
Another place some of our reviewers have heard a lot about for a couple of years, and so decided would be a good target for a tax refund splurge, is La Bete (1802 Bellevue Ave., Seattle; 329-4047; labeteseattle.com).
Nestled around the corner from the main arterial, La Bete is a cozy but not crowded location with a very quaint and entertaining décor (neo-rustic or euro teahouse comes to mind). We chose to try it for brunch and found a very interesting menu that emphasized many items baked on site.
Our favorite of the ones we tried was the quinoa waffle with a smoked-ham gravy and arugula topped with poached eggs. We also tried the classic breakfast, with bacon, home fries and eggs, in order to sample the house-made English muffin, as well as the chilaquiles, with pork sausage, salsa, cream and fried egg. We looked very closely at the curried black beans at the next table, which we plan to try when we go back.
All items were flavorful and different from the standard fare at other brunch sites. The service was quite prompt. We would return for the setting and the service, and to try other items on the very interesting menu.
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org; see also www.schwabe.com/dining_out.aspx. Follow us on Twitter @schwabedinesout.