Dining Out: Back to Black Bottle

Part of the fun of traveling is trying new places. Especially new and trendy ones that are inexpensive enough for even a struggling writer to afford.

This is my third time in Seattle and I am all about trying stuff, and places, I’ve not done before- lots of stuff. Before I came I pumped friends for info on good places to get a drink, swim, hike, etc. and scoured the guide books for new and interesting… stuff (note to self: buy thesaurus). My friend OB suggested the Black Bottle so I decided I would take my cousin KS and her sweetie LR out for dinner. And since the big city gets the big crazy on weekends, we would hit it on Thursday.

Thursday afternoon after a long day- starting with the Space Needle and culminating in a long stroll through Fremont (the center of the universe apparently) I took a dip at Clyde Beach Park, down the street from KS’s house, and hopped in the shower, then jumped into some new and trendy clothes that I had picked up at the mall before I left DC.

KS’s friend J came by in his convertible (aka: new and trendy way to dry the hair) with KS to take us downtown for dinner. J brews his own beer, which we got to sample, before setting off for Black Bottle, 10 blocks or so from where we parked and me in new and trendy shoes that should only be worn for about 5 blocks. Sigh. The things we do for fashion.

We settled into the back room, then moved to the front to wait for LR, who was running late, and ordered drinks. My amaretto sour was decadent (thanks to SP for getting me hooked on them), J’s Manny’s- a lightly hoppy ale- was tasty as well. KS started out with a sparkling wine, which was appropriate since Black Bottle is a wine bar.

We started out with the French Country flatbread, with leeks, kalamata olives and brie. It was large, delicious and fresh tasting. Even the olives, which were not quite as salty as I expected, but bursting with olive-y flavor. The flatbread itself was crispy on the outside and chewy on the in- perfectly seasoned to complement the subtle flavor of the brie.

Black Bottle is dark, dominated by a bar, funky lighting and exposed pipes and beams, and flanked by a narrow kitchen and a capacious back room that is lined with glassed bookcases filled with bottles of wine. Unfortunately the bookcases are sealed, but they look pretty and are an education in themselves.

But first, we let the menu educate us. All the items on the menu are $8 except for drinks- beer is $4 and cocktails are $7-$7.50. A mojito for LR, an amaretto sour for KS, another Manny’s for J and a never-ending Cosmo for me and we were ready for chicken larb gai (seasoned chicken, Thai-style, lettuce wraps), seven spiced shrimp, saffron rissotto cakes with a tomato and arugula sauce and blasted broccoli, which inspired a food fight that nearly ruined my new and trendy white top. I started taking photos of everything until J said, “Are you going to take pictures of everything?” in such a way that suggested that if I did our association would be shortlived, which seemed a shame, so I put the camera away and laid into the food.

Blasted broccoli is seasoned with garlic, pepper, salt and olive oil and then cooked in a super-heated oven so that it is light and slightly crispy. It also flies through the air well and gets stuck in one’s hair, which is not a new and trendy way to eat it. One serving is plenty for a party of four.

The dessert selection is small but good. J and KS split the chocolate cake and vanilla gelato- as it turned out the gelato came inside the cake- and LR and I split the coconut panna cotta with mango sauce.

Another good panna cotta experience. The chocolate squiggle on top was dark chocolate, which right off is an indicator of good things to come. The panna cotta itself was creamy and smooth with a subtle taste and the mango sauce was dotted with raspberry. LR drew a line down the center of the dish and I promptly ignored it. Note to guys: never draw a line down the middle of a dessert and expect a woman to respect it.

Bottom line: If you are looking for something good, not too expensive and with a great view of the water, and the foot traffic of downtown Seattle, head for 1st and Vine and get a table at Black Bottle. They don’t take reservations, so get there early and either park yourself at the bar or grab a table and relax because you are in for a treat. The prices are cheap, but the food tastes like a million dollars, and the cocktails are fantastic.

If you are still in a party mood, the city is spread out before you like a blanket of good fun. If not, you’ve had a good meal in a new place- a fine place to finish the day.

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