Traditionally, Microsoft employees enjoy generous health benefits and Boeing employees retire with flush pensions, but sadly most lawyers do not receive lavish fringe benefits. We must console ourselves with the occasional meal with a client at an expensive restaurant. So, getting to the point, what are our options for expense account means? We reviewed the Metropolitan Grill, Canlis, Daniel's Broiler and El Gaucho.
820 Second Ave.
With many of the entrees starting in the $50 range (a la carte), and heading up to the upper 60s or 70s for many of the fine steaks, the Metropolitan Grill is clearly a fringe benefit restaurant. Although a steak house, it carries an assortment of vegetarian and seafood items, often among the less-expensive selections.
The happy hour does not offer discounted drinks, but does offer discounted hors d'oeuvres, including some excellent bacon-wrapped filet skewers served over lightly fried onions and artichoke hearts, each of which was very affordable for the amount of food received, at least during happy hour. But be warned, happy hour is very popular and you may have to leave your name and wait for a table or a space at the bar.
Moving on to dinner, unless you are a vegetarian, it's hard to avoid the temptation of the long-bone rib eye or the American wagyu filet, although one of our personal favorites is the rack of lamb. Each of these should please any red-meat eater's appetite and taste, but unless you have a large appetite you may find yourself with a doggy bag, even though the steaks come a la carte. But treat the a la carte as an opportunity to try out the creamed spinach or the cedar-plank-roasted wild mushrooms. Do not be afraid to take the leftovers home.
As a final note, the Met has a Wine Spectator-recognized wine list and a fine assortment of spirits to complement your meal. All in all, one of the places to consider for your next tax-deductible meal.
2576 Aurora Ave. N.
Canlis is an experience and an excellent choice for celebration, but call ahead. Calling one month early gave us only two options - 5 p.m. or 8:15 p.m. reservation times. Opting for the latter, we arrived on time. We spent the next 45 minutes in the bar, which has a lovely view, but is quite small, had slow service, and is dominated by a loud piano. One diner opted to leave the restaurant to quickly call their grandmother to wish her a happy birthday while waiting for our drinks. The group was still waiting when they returned.
Once seated though, we cannot emphasize enough the lovely view, amazing food and knowledgeable staff. We were presented with a smattering of unique amuse-bouche, including a deep-fried egg yolk, which was still perfectly rounded as if plucked from the egg. It was amazing and apparently required several days to prepare these delights.
We enjoyed our table-side salad and lovely entrees, and opted for a local wine. While the wait was long to be seated, we appreciated the leisurely pace of the meal. We were able to enjoy every bite.
Canlis must have enjoyed our company as well since the staff kept us around for few extra minutes. Their valets touted their ability to remember which car belongs to each guest. Well, sadly they guessed wrong. While we appreciated the offer of a new Lexus to drive home, it was not our car.
Daniel's Broiler on Lake Union
200 Lake Washington Blvd.
We showed up at Daniel's Broiler with no reservations at around 6 p.m. and had our choice of seating on the outdoor patio facing Lake Union. It is hard to overstate how magical it is to sit on Daniel's Broiler's patio on a late-summer evening, as the sun sets, watching the sailboats and kayaks. If you want to impress out-of-town guests with the Seattle lifestyle we are always going on about, bring them here.
We started with prime tenderloin mini-tacos, which turned out to be considerably larger than the dictionary definition of "mini," and the spicy barbecued prawns, which were not so much spicy as bathed in a piquant sauce. Both were delicious and filling.
We originally intended to stay only for happy hour, but after our second beers we decided to prolong the evening and stay for dinner. At this point, we had to choose between ordering the richest and most expensive items on the dinner menu, as our duty as reviewers demanded, or ordering something more suitable for the warm evening.
We shirked duty and ordered the lobster club salad. This turned out to be one of the most enjoyable salads in memory, with lobster meat, avocado, red peppers, candied pecans, cabbage, chives and tomatoes. Of course, expense account classics such as lobster tail, rib eye and porterhouse steaks were on the menu in the $50–$60 range, with a filet mignon and lobster tail combo at the top end for an even $99. Next time.
The wine list is what you'd expect here: Washington and Oregon wines are well represented with a few offerings from California, France and Argentina. There is a reasonable selection of single malts and other spirits on the menu.
Service was friendly and efficient, but seemed overworked. Parking is not free and valet parking is $6. Noise levels were very moderate on the patio, but inside it was much noisier and the tables are quite close. So, if you are hoping for privacy, sit outside, weather permitting.
2505 First Ave.
For some celebrations, you want more than great food - you want a great experience. El Gaucho delivers on both.
We've dined here before to celebrate, and have eaten or imbibed at the bar, have eaten in the dining room, and have celebrated in one of the private dining rooms. Most recently we enjoyed a dinner in the dining room on a low-key evening. The pianist and the low lighting create a private, yet fun atmosphere and set the stage for an entertaining evening. And an entertaining evening is what El Gaucho delivers.
Our server and her assistants were thoroughly knowledgeable and always attentive without us feeling at any time as though we were intruded upon. All tables have a private feel and most have a great view of the open kitchen, which only adds to the experience.
We began with a couple of signature drinks and found them to be expertly prepared without a hint of ostentatiousness. The food was, as expected, divine. We asked for considerable customization to our salads (a little from this salad, a little from that salad, with dressing prepared without an ingredient), and they were prepared tableside perfectly and without fuss.
We had steaks (of course), one as a surf and turf with a Maine lobster tail, which was not a second overdone. Though the steaks are delicious as prepared, our server highly recommended a sauce, and the bordelaise did not disappoint. These were accompanied by the signature "Full Gaucho" baked potato, which begins with butter and ends with a creamy cheddar cheese sauce.
Though we did not opt for dessert, we enjoyed the cheese-and-fruit plate that automatically follows every meal. All in all, our experience was perfect, and we look forward to celebrating our next big event by treating a client to an El Gaucho experience.
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 Michael Herbst at 206-407-1570 or firstname.lastname@example.org; see also www.schwabe.com/dining_out.aspx. Follow us on Twitter @schwabedinesout.