Sunday, April 02, 2006

Restaurant Quest

So the play started at 2 and let out about 3:30, and the Lovely Bride and I decided to do dinner up near Seattle Center. And that turned out to be a mistake.

We normally hit Racha, a Thai place at the northwest corner of the Seattle Center, but we had done that two weeks before and were looking for something else. A new restaurant, Moxie, had opened nearby, but they didn't open until 4. So the Lovely Bride suggested the Melting Pot, a Fondue Restaurant. Fondue never did it for me, but I was good for it. But they didn't open until 4 either.

I think you know where we're going here. We hit a couple resturants - none of them opened before 4. So we walked through the Center, back to Moxie's after 4, and found that yes, they were open, but didn't serve dinner until 5:30 (their sign on the front window lies), but they did have bar food. So BACK to the Melting Pot, where, yes, they were open, but they were full up and the first opening they had was at 9 - would we want to come back in 5 hours?

Now, through the Monkey King's excellent Friend's List, I read Waiter Rant, a great little blog by a waiter in New York, who regularly confronts the irate couple that comes in without a reservation and demands a table (usually one reserved for a couple that met at the resturant and is coming in tonight to celebrate their 20th anniversary). But in this case the Melting Pot was stone-cold empty at opening, not a paying customer present, waitstaff leaning on the tables and examining the glasses for spots, and there was nothing available for the next five hours.

I think I've mentioned that the Lovely Bride runs a tax office, and this is their busy season. But even they keep a number of slots available for the walk-in trade, since those people are where you draw your regular customers from in future years. But apparently the Melting Pot is doing so well, it doesn't have to worry about stuff like that. And mind you, these are restaurants that are within walking distance of two full theaters that let out at 3:30-4ish - theater-goers who are apparently trained to go directly to their cars and drive back to Bellevue to get something to eat.

And I've noticed this odd restaurant/theatre disconnect in the program books at the REP as well - from the Pittsburgh Public Theatre and the Milwaukee Rep, I am used to seeing local restaurants taking little ads to drum up post-show trade. Here? Not so much.

Where did we end up? At the bottom of the hill, near Lake Union, at a place called Bonefish Grill - Its a chain, and it was OK - the halibut and bacon-wrapped scallops were excellent, but the tuna was a little tough and the breading on the calimari bland. Service was great and I would definately give it a second shot. It had a few people as we entered and was pretty active by the time we left.

Now, there has been some gripes from the local eateries that, in the event of another Key Arena expansion, they will have to carry the freight of a continuing tax to effectively support their own competition. Normally, I'm with the little guys against the bigs, but after this little experience, unable to find a good sitdown place at 4 PM on a weekend, my sympathy for them is minimal - maybe now they will have to go looking for customers as opposed to keeping banker's hours.

Oh, and my desire for cheese-covered bread? Definitely reduced.

More later,