Birthdays, anniversaries, and spontaneous celebrations among friends rarely abide by the restaurant calendar, sometimes falling on that dreaded dead day of dining, a Monday. Certainly promotions, new jobs, and any other spontaneously inspired celebrations will happen when they happen, and they deserve the same amazing long bone rib-eyes, ham cracklin's, and superb service as Friday night revels.
Yet chefs and managers deserve a day off too, and many of them take the ever-so-slow Monday night. Sundays are bad, too (don't plan to celebrate on the Lord's day at either of two of Seattle's best new restaurants, Altura or Lloyd Martin). There is always someone willing to serve you, and this list has sieved out the best spots in the city to toast to a Monday night, or to whatever your occasion.
1) Best place to celebrate with a big group: Celebrating with a group at a restaurant can be very difficult. Aside from just coordinating the simultaneous location of more than a dozen individuals, there are a million things to think about when choosing a venue: Is the vibe right? Will it be willing to split checks? Is there something on the menu to please all levels of pickiness among eaters? Will other patrons be okay if we're too loud? At Cuoco, the answers are all yes. So sit back, relax, and enjoy oversized shot glasses of limoncello. The set up and skills for catering to a big group are over-the-top impeccable at Tom Douglas's South Lake Union Italian eatery.
2) Best place to celebrate an intimate occasion: Unlike Cuoco, Walrus and Carpenter is a place terrible for groups. They don't even seat more than 6 together, and you'll be squished in if you're more than four. But the pay off comes on the palate, with flavors as simple and clean as the color of the walls. Oysters are perfectly shucked embodiments of the briney qualities they should have. Dishes are truly as simple as the three ingredients listed on the menu, and as good as the long wait to get them. You'll be squished, and you will wait, but for foodies with something to toast to, the cool, crisp oysters and the wines that match are the way to go.
3) Best place to celebrate like you're somewhere else: It's a confusing title, but the celebrations that occur on Mondays at Madison Park Conservatory are a little beyond definition. Sometimes you'll find a Greek feast (staring the chef's dad), other times the weekly festivities that started out celebrating local producers show themselves as a celebration of whatever strikes the chef's fancy that particular Monday: a collaboration with food truck Where Ya at Matt, an ode to the truffle, or a Christmas party. Look to Madison Park Conservatory for a Monday night filled with intriguing ingredients, references to the late Tako Truk, and one-of-a-kind events.
4) Best place to splurge for your someone: Nothing says I love you like a giant steak. Nothing says 'I make the big bucks now' like meat bigger than your torso. And nobody does it better than the Metropolitan Grill. What makes a steak house great is, of course, the steak, but it's also so much of what steak stands for and what steakhouses represent: formality in a traditional, masculine, powerful way. There's something inherently sexy about the decor of a steakhouse, and the Met creates it with the thick wood trim on every surface and the high, dark-green booths that keep your conversation to yourself. It is a place to celebrate your own accomplishments, or better yet, those of the person sitting across from you--because then they're paying.
5) Best place to forget you're getting another year older: The Coterie Room solves the conundrum of finding a setting that is worthy of your celebration and serves a meal worth celebrating, even on Monday nights. The airy ham cracklin's are high-class chicharrones that shatter like a crystal wine glass on a tile floor. They're a worthy contender for the role of pre-party snack: a crunchy, salty jumping-off point for a special occasion. The foie gras torchon, with its artfully arrayed snippets of chives and perfectionist-styled circles of meat, brings elegance to the table, while the sweet onion mac n' cheese arrives bearing its brute force of unabashed cream and fattiness. By picking carefully through the selection of small plates, you can create a celebratory meal--that's where all the dishes described above can be found. The skills that chefs Dana Tough and Brian McCracken have honed on their gastropub menus at Spur and Tavern Law shine in tiny portions sparked with supercharged flavors.