Best Appetizers

WILD GINGER

(1401 Third, 623-4450)

It's not exactly the quality of the appetizers that makes Wild Ginger such a good place to nosh;

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Decadent Seattle— Readers' Picks

Best Appetizers

WILD GINGER

(1401 Third, 623-4450)

It's not exactly the quality of the appetizers that makes Wild Ginger such a good place to nosh; it's the way the whole menu lends itself to noshing. Presiding genius Rick Yoder does not subscribe to the formula so popular in restaurants these days that "More is Not Only Better, It's Necessary." Each dish, appetizer, or entr饠arrives, makes its point, and leaves room for more. Since the menu spans the entire gamut of Southeast Asian ingredients and cuisines, there's always some new combination of flavors, textures, and aromas to perk the flagging appetite. The biggest problem at Wild Ginger, in fact, is that it's come to serve as the preshow cafeteria for Benaroya Hall across the street—patrons in a rush don't get the best of it. R.D.

Second place: Palace Kitchen (2030 Fifth, 448-2001)

Best Seafood

ANTHONY'S

(6135 Seaview N.W., 783-0780)

Anthony's has come a long way from that first ill-fated American Revolution-themed steak house known as "Mad Anthony's"—with 17 locations spread from Bellingham to Olympia, it's clear that chain eating establishments are A-OK with you folks as long as that chain is owned by a local named Budd. And why shouldn't this one be? Contracts with Yakima farmers and running its very own wholesale fish company means everything from oysters to strawberries are fresh and tasty; reasonable prices (dine early: four courses for $14.95!) mean happy regulars, slurping down as much clam chowder as your little tummies desire. Remember to raise a glass for namesake old Mad Anthony Wayne, and let it be known that he died from gout. Perhaps you should have a salad. J.L.

Second place: Ray's Boathouse (6049 Seaview N.W., 789-4130)

Best Desserts

THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY

(701 Pike, 652-5400; 401 Bellevue Sq., Bellevue, 425-450-6000)

Is it any wonder that as the Cheesecake Factory slowly takes over the world (see Best New Restaurant), more and more Americans are slowly growing, well, world-shaped? Is there any way to resist what the Cheesecake Factory—the gilded enshrinement of sugar glaze and shiny brass knobs and saturated fat—slides into that regal, refrigerated display case? And if not a slice of sticky, chewy chocolate pecan cheesecake, or Adam's peanut-butter-cup fudge ripple, or white chocolate chunk macadamia nut, or Craig's crazy carrot cake cheesecake (yes, half carrot cake, half cheesecake—crazy), if not any of the 30-plus cheesecake varieties, then surely you'll go for a noncheesy, noncakey calorie load: a giant brownie ice cream sandwich, a towering strawberry shortcake, or a near-famous factory mud pie (topped with whipped cream and nuts and served with a side boat of hot fudge). C.F.

Second place: Dilettante Chocolates (1603 First, 728-9144)

Best Doughnuts

KRISPY KREME

(6210 East Lake Sammamish Pkwy., Issaquah, 425-391-8011)

Well, DUH. Of course you voted for this one, since these are the only doughnuts the majority of you ever eat; who cares if they're not the best and not even in Seattle? How about Family Doughnut maple bars, Sophie's Doughnuts bismarcks, or that Johnny-come-lately Top Pot and their crazy crullers? Sure, they all have lines, but not that around-the-block strip mall mess. Coming in second was the vague "Pike Place"—this could mean either the Daily Dozen cart, with its wee bags of heaven, or the Pike Place Bakery, with such glories as the eight-ton buttermilk bar and the "Texas" doughnut. Lookie there, people—so many possibilities! All grand! And all inside the city limits! J.L.

Second place: the nebulous "Pike Place"

Best Sunday Brunch

SALTY'S ON ALKI

(1936 Harbor S.W., 937-1600)

Sunday brunch at Salty's is classic. It's where wealthy people wearing Ralph Lauren go after church. It's where a nice couple goes after a weekend of rented movies and great sex. It's where for $27.95 per person you can get a ton of food from the buffet. You name it, they've got it. Dungeness crab, hand-carved ham, Eggs Benedict, homemade cinnamon rolls, pre-shucked oysters, Lucky Charms, chocolate-covered strawberries, and just about whatever else you can think of. And you get the view, too: Mount Rainier, Elliott Bay, and the most beautiful skyline in the country. Enjoy it all from the seaside patio if you can, and remember that their warm rolls and delicious apple dumplings fit perfectly into sports jacket pockets. S.P.R.

Second place: Palisade (2601 W. Marina Pl., 285-1000)

Best Expensive Furniture Store

KASALA

(1505 Western, 623-7795; 1014 116th N.E., Bellevue, 425-453-2823)

You just got a fabulous incentive package from a shiny, desperate Belltown condo—where in the neighborhood can you best parlay the savings toward some elegant home furnishings? Kasala boasts a showroom (two, actually—there's a Bellevue location) crammed with modern designer fare from "Natuzzi, Label, Leolux, Della Robbia, Baronet, Lazar, Cattelan, Artemide, Flos, BDI, Alessi, Jonathan Adler, and many others" (apparently, some of these designers are famous!). That's all good for folks with reserves of disposable income, but there's also good news for those whose good taste exceeds their annual income: Kasala has big sales, and they also have a special Clearance Center near Safeco with loads of marked-down and discontinued items. P.F.

Second place: Roche Bobois (903 Western, 622-7166)

Best Place to Get a Massage

HABITUDE

(2208 N.W. Market, 782-0530)

You need to relax more often—you did know that the lovely old-town location lies in smoking ruins, didn't you? Gone, but not forgotten—perhaps it was the single best massage of your life before the fire. Or perhaps you, with stiff upper lip and straight back, stride intently past all those sweaty "in shape" people working away at the Ballard Athletic Club to get to Habitude's uptown spot. Not the same level of loveliness, but the sweetly knowledgeable LMTs are still more than willing to slap a pile of muddy plants on your butt, if that's what it takes to get you to calm down. Have you considered decaf? Telecommuting? Valium, perhaps? J.L.

Second place: Brenneke School (160 Roy, 282-1233)

Best Place to Get Botox

"Nowhere!"

Since nobody who gets Botoxed wants anyone else to know about it, and since the Best of Seattle ballots required names and home addresses, it's a bit unclear whether you readers are protecting your plastic beauty secrets or if you really have no idea. But, let's face it, there are some ugly, wrinkled people around here. You have no idea where to get Botox. You thank god this is not a city of vanity, that you do not live in Los Angeles, that everyone here is perfectly happy with their foreheads. You readers, torn over whether "nowhere" or naming certain anatomical locations was a funnier answer to this question—you, all of you, make us smile. Not that you can tell that we're smiling. The muscles in our cheek are frozen. But we're smiling. We're smiling on the inside. C.F.

Second place: "Buttocks," "Just below the eye," etc.

Best Day Spa

GENE JUAREZ

(607 Pine, 326-6000; 550 106th N.E., Bellevue, 425-455-5511)

You're the most pimped-out koala in the world. You've just had a massage, and now you're chilling in the shower. But it ain't a regular shower at Gene Juarez. No, that just wouldn't do for the most pimped-out koala in the world. Not one, not two, but 13 showerheads strategically spray hot, purified, wonderful water onto your furry little body. "Oh, yeahhhhh," you moan. Eucalyptus steam magically enters your shower room. You lick the steam with your tongue. You see visions of your youth in Australia, recall the embrace of your mother, and feel the sensation of your first koala kiss. You begin to cry koala tears, it's so lovely. And then, "OK, Mr. Koalafeller. Time's up." You sigh and exit. Moral: No rest for the weary koalas of the world. S.P.R.

Second place: Ummelina International Spa (1525 Fourth, 624-1370)

Best Hair Salon

GENE JUAREZ

(607 Pine, 326-6000; Northgate Mall, 365-6000; 550 106th N.E., Bellevue, 425-455-5511)

Gene Juarez is a classy place. The Gene Juarez downtown is so classy, it has its own concierge, Rand. Rand's a classy guy. He'll book you an appointment with a choice stylist, pamper you with iced tea and a complimentary makeup touch-up, and then send you off on a tour of classy downtown, looking beautiful and clean. He'll direct you to a classy restaurant for lunch and maybe recommend an art gallery or a classy downtown shop. And you'll feel good about yourself. You deserve it, cause you're a classy lass. K.M.

Second place: Simplicity (145 Park Lane, Kirkland, 425-889-0966)

Best Place to Buy Jewelry

TIFFANY AND CO.

(600 Pine, 264-1400)

First and second place here have more in common than you might think. Where in town can you get everything from a new razor to an engagement ring to place settings for 12? That's right: Tiffany's and Fred Meyer. Sure, Audrey never ate breakfast at Freddie's (did she actually ever eat breakfast at all?), and sure, those sweet little blue boxes are the world's best packaging—but really. The markup on diamonds is high enough without adding extra for a little blue box and a big load of marketing hooey. When you get right down to it, a VVS1 rock is a VVS1 rock, and platinum is platinum. Just get the one you think is prettiest. You already know you deserve it. J.L.

Second place: Fred Meyer (various locations)

Best Place to Buy a Car

CARTER SUBARU

(17225 Aurora N., 542-1166)

New cars are strange investments because they're bad investments, yet people around the country constantly purchase them. I don't understand. As soon as you take a car off the lot, it loses 20 percent of its value. It makes no sense, but it's true. Well, the guys at Carter Subaru are apparently pretty good at making this investment sound like a good one. Even more amazing, though, they're able to do it without hassling the shit out of you. My friend Tim and I went to Carter and test-drove a car with Salesman Guy. Salesman Guy was nice and personable, and when Tim told him the car wasn't for him, everything was cordial. That was nice. I like nice experiences. In conclusion, Carter Subaru is all right by me. S.P.R.

Second place: Carter Volkswagen (5202 Leary N.W., 782-7474)

Best Place to Get a Wedding Cake

CREME DE LA CREME

(1313 S. Central, Kent, 241-0249)

You only get married once or twice (those celebrating their third or more should just buy a box of Ding Dongs for dessert and focus their time and attention on some larger issues), so you deserve a perfect wedding cake. I couldn't find anyone who has actually had a cake from Creme de la Creme, but those of you who already knew what fondant is seem to approve. This Kent specialty shop is open by appointment only—a clear indication that they do not mess around. Here are some other good signs (according to a recently married person): They offer a wide range of flavors, a wider array of decoration styles, and they only do wedding cakes, thereby increasing the odds that your tower of sugary delight will be delivered and assembled with the utmost care. Hold the Ding-Dongs, please. P.F.

Second place: Remo Borracchini's Bakery (2307 Rainier S., 325-1550)

Best Place to Have Your Wedding

THE RUINS

(570 Roy, 285-7846)

Nobody likes a wedding: Not the people who have to go to them, not the people who have to be in them, not the people who years later have to look at pictures of all the people who went to them and were in them—and not, certainly, anyone who works in a banquet hall where people who throw weddings and people who are invited to weddings and people who are invited to be in weddings all come together on the Big Day and throw rice and develop cake headaches and get cajoled into doing the electric slide with their nieces. Think of those people who have to work in those places—in the down-and-out banquet halls, in the ferry boats that rent by the hour, in the classy private clubs like the Ruins—and think of how much ribbon and white frosting and color coordination their Saturdays consist of. These are God's people. These are our lambs. C.F.

Second Place: Skansonia Ferryboat (2505 N. Northlake Way, 545-9109)

Best Place to Buy Soap

THE SOAP BOX

(1916 Pike Place, 441-5680; 4340 University Way N.E., 634-2379; 4531 California S.W., 932-3747)

Sure, if you don't know what to get that co-worker/baby-sitter/mother-in-law on designated gift-giving holidays, lavender bath beads and one of those mesh shower foofers is the easy way out. But not all gift baskets are created equal; there is a vast chasm between the mall kiosks, with their soaps-on-a-rope and liquid suds smelling of fabric detergent and Skittles, and the subtly scented, gently milled masterpieces at specialty shops like the Soap Box. Now 27 years in the business, the Box's three Seattle locations offer up Pre de Provence bars, which smell like honey, hay, and sunshine in the South of France, as well as cult lines like Dr. Hauschka, Burt's Bees, and the Cadillac of hairbrushes, the Mason Pearson ($70, but worth it). If you really want to smell like Skittles, though, it can probably be arranged; they also custom blend scents on-site. L.G.

Second place: Bath & Body Works (various locations)

 
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