We’re sitting at a cozy booth, polishing off the last of a skillet-full of gooey pimento mac-and-cheese, and balsamic collard greens, when the server stops by and hands us a stuffed paper bag, folded over at the top.
It seems that the restaurant, The Wandering Goose, was getting ready to close for the day. “We had some extras; hope you enjoy them,” the server told us. I had seen her give a similarly bulging bag to the guy sitting next to us, but had assumed it was a take-out order.
Cool gesture, and so typical of the day we were having crawling through Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Occupying a steep incline just east of Seattle’s downtown district, Capitol Hill is home to countless cafés, bars, and pizzerias. On my visit over the Christmas weekend, I was determined to visit as many as possible. That Saturday, my son, who lives in the neighborhood, agreed to take me on a tour of some of his favorite spots.
The Wandering Goose, located on the trendy/quirky 15th Avenue, was the spot we had decided to have a late lunch. It definitely had a Seattle feel, with its slogan, “I’m a wandering kind of goose” burned into the surface of the wood tables, and the wall of vintage leaded-glass separating it from the restaurant next door.
Still, The Wandering Goose departs a bit from the healthy-eating vibe of Seattle. For one thing, it was a bit of a tall order to find something on the menu for me that didn’t include pork (sausage, bacon, pork fat, etc.) We settled on the veggie plate, which was a far cry from typical vegetarian fare, with its decadent mac-and-cheese and raspberry-jam buttermilk biscuit. All incredibly delicious!
And, the next morning, when we dug into our complimentary pastries – a huge chunk of chocolate-chip bread pudding, another raspberry jam biscuit (YAY), and cinnamon roll – we agreed that The Wandering Goose is the perfect spot for a weekend splurge (they’re known for their fried chicken, and I’m sure it’s ridiculous!).
A classic Seattle refreshment
We had walked to The Wandering Goose from our previous stop at Rachel’s Ginger Beer, a delightful little shop on 12th Avenue, with a creative assortment of flavors. After trying samples of the blood-orange and the cucumber-tarragon, we settled on a glass of blood-orange.
Tart, ginger-y, and refreshing, the non-alcoholic drink was the perfect accompaniment for the southern-style cooking at The Wandering Goose. I learned later that Rachel’s Ginger Beer is a bit of a phenomenon in Seattle – locally brewed, and available at several sites, including the popular Pike Place Market.
A morning caffeine jolt
The mid-afternoon visits to Rachel’s Ginger Beer and The Wandering Goose were our fourth and fifth stops of the day, which began with a morning latte at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room on Seattle’s Pike Street. A slick multi-level operation, the Roastery was overflowing with people on that Saturday morning – all browsing among the elaborate selection of Starbucks mugs, coffees, chocolates, and accouterments.
It really is a unique experience to watch the coffee beans being roasted, and then transported to the long line of baristas preparing the drinks. Oh, and the latte and chocolate croissant were lovely too!
A teddy-bear kind of Christmas
From there, we walked to the historic Fairmont Olympic on University Street to take in the hotel’s annual Teddy Bear Suite. It’s not on Capitol Hill, but the Fairmont was definitely worth a detour for the elegant Christmas decorations in the lobby, and the adorable teddy bear display in one of the suites. Plus, it’s all for a worthy cause – the Seattle Children’s Hospital. The suite is piled high with teddy bears of all colors and sizes. It’s easy to see why it’s a popular stop for families with kids.
We left the Fairmont and headed back to Capitol Hill via the Freeway Park, a space built over Interstate 5. With its interesting sculptures and landscaping, the park shows off an innovative approach to bringing relaxing green space to a bustling city setting.
An afternoon holiday aperitif
Our walk took us back to Capitol Hill and Pike Street’s Capitol Cider. I had heard a lot about this place – its amazing ambience and hard ciders – and it really was that cool. We headed downstairs to the Ballast Bar, where we sat at a long pub table with comfy stools. I ordered the Finnriver cranberry cider, which had a reddish hue and not-too-sweet flavor.
The service was quick and friendly, and all of the customers were having a great time, playing shuffleboard and chatting. I realized that our crawl idea wasn’t that unique, when I heard a woman say, “We haven’t even done 10,000 steps yet; we need to earn this.” Not a bad thought, since our own calories were adding up.
After taking our loop up 12th and 15th Avenues, we headed back to Pike Street, where the fire pits in the tables at Poquitos Mexican Good restaurant were too much to resist (considering the cold, gloomy weather and all). Too full by that time for any of the delicious-looking food, we settled for margaritas in front of the fire – a really wise choice!
By that time, we decided to take a break and regroup for the evening. We agreed to meet up at Kedai Makan, the new sit-down restaurant on Bellevue Avenue that had sprung up from the Malaysian-food street stall previously located just around the corner. (See “My adventures as a ‘tourcal’). The restaurant was packed, with a waiting list, but we grabbed two stools at the bar, and ordered drinks and appetizers. I went with the shandy – a mix of pilsner and Rachel’s Ginger Beer (do you sense a pattern emerging here?). Much lighter-tasting than straight beer, and with less alcohol too – a good choice after our afternoon. We also shared a couple of delicious Malaysian appetizers – Malay roasted peanuts, and roti jala, a tender bread, which we dipped into a flavorful veggie curry.
That led us to our last stop of the day – Via Tribunali, a charming pizzeria on Pike Street, where late-night diners are treated to a great happy hour, starting at 10 p.m. Small pizzas are $6 each, and a half-carafe of wine is $10. We topped off our wonderful day with a little margherita pizza and some great Cabernet.
Overall, we walked more than five miles, took in some beautiful sights, and consumed (a lot) of great food and drink. A stellar day!