Since I missed the chance to see one of my all-time favourite people live, in Vancouver, I had an all-too-good reason to visit Seattle for the first time.
Grinderman, the newest project of Nick Cave and most of the Bad Seeds, is finishing up their North American tour. It seems the show in Vancouver sold out too fast for me and, without hesitation, caused me to buy tickets to the Seattle show. Incredibly excited to see Nick Cave in the flesh—I just can't help but enjoy almost everything he produces—I was also excited to visit Seattle for the first time. Which is a strange thing as I have, thanks mostly in part by my Dad, seen more American soil than Canadian.
My girlfriend and I decided to stay at the Belltown Inn(in Belltown!), which I booked through Hotels.ca. The process was easy enough, and it landed us right in between the concert Venue and Pike Place Market. The Hotel itself isn't much to talk about: it's clean; friendly staff; free bicycles; whatever. Thanks to Hotels.ca we stayed one night at half price, but I can't see myself going back at full price.
Now, the neighbourhood of Belltown is pretty interesting. Though I haven't seen much of Seattle(stayed within Belltown, West Edge and the Seattle Centre) I came to like it immediately. Maybe because it's like Gastown but not dark, dirty & depressing. Belltown is interesting because there is no apparent sign of generic and duplicated business. Actually, from what I saw, Seattle has far less fast-food joints and chain restaurants than Vancouver(I'm probably thinking of Downtown and Gastown). I was really surprised that I only came across two Starbucks, and yet both of them had unique and rather interesting storefronts.
It was rather easy to find online restaurant recommendations for Seattle and perhaps through instinct shortlisted about 6-8 for my Girlfriend and I to choose from once there. Le Pichet easily got both of us excited and we went for our first meal(brunch/lunch thing) there. Le Pichet serves traditional and regional French food. We shared a plate of charcuterie and a Black Cod, Orange & watercress salad. Awesome. It may not have been the best plate of prepared meats I've had, but it was damn tasty, as was the bread and salad. What I really enjoyed was the atmosphere: totally relaxed, subtle decor, really attentive service and Massive Attack on the playlist.
As a snack while browsing the Pike Place Market, I grabbed a BLT from Three Sisters Cafe. Perhaps a bit pricey, but good ingredients and just made simply. No fluff.
For dinner, we went to the frequently recommended Zig Zag Cafe. First impressions are tough, and it didn't go too well for this Cafe: a mentally distant hostess, red lighting and purple velvet. Not my vibe. I think the high-mark of this place is the drinks—the beverage menu is massive—but we don't care much for this as we're more interested in food. Oh well, we ordered the Boar Bacon Risotto and Full Quail. The food is well prepared and mostly flavourful. The risotto came with big cubes of Boar, which was great! But, Istill prefer a simple Mushroom risotto. The quail was good…just a bit boring. Maybe, if the skin was crispy, or there was more fat, or a tasty sauce all over it. But it was basically just a seasoned bird on top of some seasoned vegetables. Well made, but not exciting.
We caught Grinderman at the King Cat Theatre, a movie-theatre-turned-venue which works quite well. I'm never really sure how to describe Grinderman. I've heard the term, Garage Rock, thrown around. But it's not exactly the sound I think of when I hear that term. Basically, they're a bunch of bearded baddasses(and Nick) who've been playing music for at least 30 years. Nick Cave's writings and lyrics are usually pretty dark and disturbing, but Grinderman really pushes the dirt. The show was loud, dirty and full of energy—they are just amazing to watch.
I really enjoyed Seattle. I couldn't help but compare it to Vancouver and, though my experience is limited, Seattle is a golden city to me right now. It was just so relaxed: big sidewalks, much less inner city traffic, and just so many unique restaurants, cafe's, bars and shops. Walking aimlessly, we never were far from yet another local food spot.
Seattle is just easy.