Nosh Spots

Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel

Now that London's distinguished Savoy Hotel is also owned by the Fairmont chain, afternoon tea "Savoy Style" lends a little proper English to Seattleites. It's a classy affair, housed beneath the Georgian Room's towering ceilings and magnificent chandeliers. Loose-leaf teas range from basics such as English breakfast, Darjeeling, and Earl Grey to intriguing flavors like Cherry Rose or Kea Lani Orange Pineapple. Tomato and goat cheese, Dungeness crab salad and cucumber, smoked salmon and crème fraîche, and foie gras with a brandied fig impart mature, husky flavor to tea sandwiches. Currant scones are positively sinful slathered with lemon curd and Devonshire cream. Sweets include a glistening fruit tart, the creamiest of cream horns, dense truffle cake, and shortbread cookies. Tea's poured for you by the delightfully formal and courteous staff. It's so darned flattering. If you're still extending your little finger over drinks later on, you'll know it's gone to your head! EMILY PAGE 411 University St., 206-621-1700. DOWNTOWN $$$ www.fairmont.com/seattle Mighty-O

A few months ago, The New York Times ran a story about how, try as they might, Dunkin' Donuts just can't come up with a doughnut-frying substance free of hydrogenated oils. (Another word for hydrogenated oil is poison; the world is getting wiser to this, and many grocery stores won't even carry products that contain it.) It's funny—Mighty-O has been doing it for five years; they use palm fruit oil. Their doughnuts are also fully organic and totally vegan, but they'll only tell you that if you go poking around asking what makes the lemon poppy or the plaid mint so damn springy, moist, and delicious. The short answer is that Mighty-O makes a clean product. They care about what you put in your body—but yeah, they'll totally slather it in chocolate and cover it with sprinkles, too. You can get these little babies all around town, but I recommend you go to the cozy and communal mother-ship store in the wee morning hours, when the doughnuts are fresh and warm from the (far healthier) fryer. LAURA CASSIDY 2110 N. 55th St., 206-547-0335. GREEN LAKE $ www.mightyo.com Olive You

And they seem to really mean it —your next hors d'oeuvre party couldn't have a more accommodating supply source. The folks behind the counter will cheerfully guide you through a sampling of exotic finger foods. (A good thing, since the jumbled row of labels leaves much to the imagination.) You might venture to taste octopus chunks or Sicilian sardines; still, sticking to the basics won't bore your guests. Green, black, and kalamata olives are offered in various sharp marinades or stuffed, and a variety of spreads (feta and red pepper, sun-dried tomato and garlic, artichoke hearts with roasted bell pepper, and tahini, to name a few) lend sharp accent to pita, crackers, apples, or whatever's on your shelf. And if you're in the mood for heartier Mediterranean cuisine, they'll grill panini sandwiches, kebabs, and veggies for your dine-in pleasure. There are wine tastings every third Saturday, live music on the weekends, and cooking classes to boot (inquire within). EMILY PAGE 8516 Greenwood Ave. N., 206-706-4121. GREENWOOD $ www.olive-you.com Frites

Unless you are crazy and/or especially tolerant of potatoes, this is a snack spot only. Even if you're enough of an early bird that Frites' 2:30 a.m. closing time would allow for such things, do NOT attempt to eat breakfast here—and proceed with lunch or dinner only if corn dogs are all you require in the way of protein. But for quick snack food, there is none in the city more giddy-making than the stuff advertised in the name of this tiny joint, nestled between Neumo's two entrances. To list a few sauces—there are more than a dozen—is to provide as surefire a litany of cheap pleasure as a Lil Jon mixtape: ketchup, curry ketchup, honey mustard, barbecue sauce, "Frites" mayo sauce, poblano ranch, tartar, roasted red pepper chipotle, drool (collapse). Like we say, a snack spot. But, oh, what a snack. MICHAELANGELO MATOS 925 E. Pike St., no phone. CAPITOL HILL $ Bottega Italiana

In the Midwest, they eat ice cream with brio when it's 16 below. Snow-phobic Seattleites, on the other hand, tend to steer clear of frozen desserts in the wintertime, which makes Bottega's (fairly) steady business from December through March all the more impressive. While there are other places to get your gelato fix downtown, Bottega's tiny interior, excellent biscotti, and thick, Italian-style hot cocoa are instant convincers. Oh, and the gelato: It's like someone transposed fruit into frozen form without altering its basic fruitness. The wild berry bowls you over, the pear with chocolate ribbon is a cryogenic take on pear belle Hélèna, and the orange puts even fresh-squeezed OJ to shame. And though we endorse Bottega primarily for snacking purposes, we promise to look the other way if you decide, one warm summer (or cold winter) evening, to make a meal of gelato alone. NEAL SCHINDLER 1425 First Ave., 206-343-0200. PIKE PLACE MARKET $ www.bottegaitaliana.com Portalis Wine Shop & Wine Bar

You won't find a better selection of wine by the glass anywhere in town, nor another bar so ready to send you home with a bottle of what you just savored in the glass. Food is minimal—a daily sandwich and soup, a salad, and a snack plate (choice of cheese or salami). There's even a dessert or two in case you're making a meal instead of just palate cleansing. But wine is the main event here, and if you're interested in exploring the first-rate bottlings for which Washington is notable, Portalis is the most relaxed yet sophisticated way imaginable to do so. ROGER DOWNEY 5310 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-783-2007. BALLARD $$ www.portaliswines.com Thaiku

In most of Seattle's Thai restaurants, you cannot get a real drink, much less a real beer. Thaiku, the comfortable, wood-paneled Ballard restaurant, is a huge exception to that sorry rule. It's an exception in another way: It has one of the most gorgeous and intimate bars in the city, Fu Kon Wu. Modeled after a Chinese apothecary, the small upstairs lounge is filled with marble-topped tables and carved teak fixtures, and it's crowded with Asian antique cabinets. To smoke, you have to go to "Hell," which is really just a dark, cold room off to the side of the bar. Most famous are the drinks made with the yohimbe herb (some say it's an aphrodisiac), but don't get too attached, because the bartenders will only let you have one. As for the food, Thaiku has an extensive menu of excellent curries, soups, noodles, and seafood, and the dining-room menu is available in the bar. PHILIP DAWDY 5410 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-706-7807. BALLARD $$ Il Bistro

Tucked under the entrance to Pike Place Market, this warm, grottolike Italian restaurant has the relaxed, lived-in feeling ideal for late-night eating—you don't have to worry about attitude when you just want some decent pasta after a show. Midweek nights seem to cater mostly to older regulars and off-shift workers from neighboring restaurants, though things pick up on Friday and Saturday, when the late-night menu kicks into gear at 11 p.m. and is available until 1 a.m. Service has casual class, with waiters and bartenders all more than happy to suggest a drink to set you straight for the evening. Appetizers are good: The fresh calamari is sautéed in a tangy garlic, vinegar, and tomato sauce, but fans of the more familiar deep-fried rings should beware. Pasta dishes include a great gnocchi, covered in a tomato sauce with reduced cream that will make you want to order another round. A basic cheese pizza provides a solid base to add salami, prosciutto, and other toppings. STEVE WIECKING 93A Pike St., 206-682-3049. PIKE PLACE MARKET $$$ www.ilbistro.net Canlis

Stopping in just for drinks and appetizers takes a lot of the pressure—not to mention the financial burn—off a visit to Canlis, considered by some to be the finest restaurant in town, and by most to be the priciest. A quick glance at the appetizer menu reassures you that It's All Going to Be OK: Dungeness crab legs with mustard aioli, ahi tuna sashimi, local oysters on the half shell with shaved ice, and Wagyu steak tartare all weigh in under $20, and hot apps like cracker-crusted calamari and escargot in puff pastry won't set you back more than a dozen clams. Two of these starter beauties, a pair of martinis, and that iconic city view are all you need to thoroughly impress a date . . . without having to ask for gas money on the way home. Neal Schindler 2576 Aurora Ave. N., 206-283-3313. QUEEN ANNE $$$ www.canlis.com Sambar

First, a few words about what not to do at Sambar: Don't bring a big group of friends (the space is quite small), don't be in a hurry (the service sure ain't), and don't be cheap (using fresh fruit purees and quality liquor instead of junky canned juice and Monarch jacks up the price; deal with it). Do, however, go on a cool spring evening when the outdoor heaters are kicking up warmth. It feels so good to sit outside on a night when such a thing would otherwise be unwise. Next, bring a few friends who enjoy the fine things in life—or better yet, bring just one friend who's totally fine and thinks the same of you. Order a couple of Sambar pear sours (Clear Creek pear brandy, lemon juice, sugar, and pear puree), some frites, and a cheese plate, and talk about how you're going to end all the wars and save the world with love. LAURA CASSIDY 425 N.W. Market St., 206-781-4883. BALLARD $$

 
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