Seattle, about a 2 and a half hour drive from Vancouver. Despite it being so close by, we’ve never spent more than a day there. We probably make the trip once or twice a year. Most of the time we just go there for the cross-border shopping deals.
I had the opportunity to experience #2daysinSeattle, a marketing campaign offered through Klout by Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Klout, it is a San Francisco based company that provides social media analytics to measure a user’s influence across their social network. More and more companies and brands are creating perks to reward online “influencers”. Ten pairs of people were selected from three cities (Vancouver, Portland, San Francisco) to go visit and experience Seattle on the city’s dime. No agenda was provided, we were given $500 spending money, free accommodations, free gas to get there, and there was no obligation for us to write about it. I was thrilled to be one of the 10 people selected from Vancouver. So big thanks and kudos to the City of Seattle for hooking this up.
We arrived in Seattle on a late Friday afternoon to get a head start. We checked into the Hyatt at Olive 8 hotel, situated in the heart of downtown Seattle. This wasn’t just a hotel room. This was their Governor Suite, a $2,000/night suite. 1300 square feet with 2 washrooms, walk-in closet, and office. Mind blown. Was not expecting that. In fact, when we checked in, I even asked the front desk if I could upgrade my room, thinking “why not? I don’t mind paying a bit more to get a nicer room.”. They replied, “You’ll be fine. We’ve already upgraded you. ;)” (ya, she winked LOL)
Upon checking into our suite, we were greeted with a complimentary cheese platter. With a variety of cheeses, crackers and dried fruit, it was the perfect welcome gift for us.
We just needed to pick up a bottle of wine to go along with it. Thankfully, we were in a country where alcohol is cheap and readily available at any 7/11 or gas station.
We couldn’t put that big of a dent into the platter, knowing that we had dinner plans at Matt’s in the Market. Our friend Maurice (another person selected for #2DaysinSeattle) dined there a week earlier, and we were drawn there by his photos and tweets. We interacted with the restaurant through Twitter, and were advised to make reservations.
We ordered the clams with house chorizo, corona beans, piquillo peppers, cava, and croutons. Despite clams being quite small in general, the dish was quite filling with the other ingredients. The house chorizo was cooked just right, and the beans gave it an extra layer of texture. The croutons soaked up the sauce and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The other appetizer we had was the pork belly confit. It sat in a shallow kimchi broth, and was served with pickled chillies and herbs. The pickled cabbage and chillies married well with the pork belly. There was just the right amount of tartness and crunch from the kimchi, and tenderness from the pork belly.
We also ordered the beef tenderloin with chanterelle mushroom ragout, pea vines, roasted sweet onions, and demi glace. It also came with a hunk of bone marrow, which was delicious as well! This piece of meat was divine! We ordered it medium rare, as recommended by the chef, and boy, did it melt in our mouths. Our plates were polished clean, and we chased it with a couple of bottles of Pike Naughty Nellie artisan ale. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t have the pork belly banh mi (Vietnamese sub) on their dinner menu. I was really looking forward to trying it.
After dinner, we hit up a corner store, bought a couple bottles of wine, and headed back to the hotel to drink. It was a long day and we knew Day 2 was going to be action packed.
We started the morning looking for a quick breakfast. A few people recommended Dahlia Bakery in Belltown, and it wasn’t far away from our hotel. We arrived and instantly fell in love with the pastries that were displayed. The staff was friendly, and the baked goods looked so inviting. With enough restraint, we managed to only walk away with a bacon egg sandwich and a pear tart with caramel sauce. The pear tart and caramel sauce combo could freeze time. Well, at least that’s what it felt like while we were eating it. We couldn’t leave out the bacon egg sandwich either. The arugula added a nice subtle spice to the sandwich. It was a marvellous start to our day.
We hurried back to our hotel to finish the rest of our breakfast because we had a very special food tour lined up. We met with Bryce Lathrop of White Moustache Urban Adventure Co. to get a private eating tour in Seattle. Because he is so amazing, we dedicated an entire post to our afternoon with him. Click here to read all about our adventure.
A vacation wouldn’t be a vacation without taking naps, no matter how short the trip is. It worked out perfectly because we had a private Washington wine tasting scheduled at Urbane Restaurant, conveniently located in the lobby of our hotel. We waited with @DotEd and @meghanlee from San Francisco who were also there for #2daysinSeattle, and we decided to sit together. They were really great dinner partners, and we had a blast eating, drinking, and tweeting our experience. We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of food that accompanied the wines we tasted. We experienced a full dinner and beautiful State wines with new friends, and it was a great way to start our evening. To be completely honest, the wine was great, but the food there was only okay.
Later that evening, we decided to check out Knee High Stocking Co., a speakeasy that was recommended by Bryce. This place is unique even with how reservations are made. Rather than calling or booking online, you have to text message their phone number to make a reservation. And they’ll confirm your reservation via text as well. We ended up getting quite a late reservation at 12:30am, but still decided to check it out. We arrived at an unmarked building, and the only branding this building had was their doorbell. It was a true speakeasy in every sense.
We tried their Cup of Awesome and Ramos Gin Fizz drinks, and shared their knee high tots. Both drinks were delicious, and their Cup of Awesome is quite unique tasting (gin, beer stout reduction, egg white, agave, bitters, shaken and topped with nutmeg). The vibe was great, and every seat was filled. They display their house rules on their menu for first time guests. One of them being ‘no flash photography’. We really need places like this in Vancouver.
Parking meters take a day off on Sundays, so if you can find free parking, it’s like winning a small jackpot. We checked out Etta’s, a Tom Douglas restaurant, for brunch. After looking at their online menu, I was looking forward to their Hangtown Fry. When we got there, they said they took it off their menu so I was a little disappointed. What was more confusing was that they still had it on one of the two menus we were handed. All in all, it was a pretty bad dining experience and a sore point for our trip. We got really bad service, the staff seemed quite disinterested, and the food was quite dismal.
Our next stop was the Paul Gauguin exhibit at the SAM (Seattle Art Museum). I’m a big fan of Gauguin’s work, and Seattle happened to be the only North American stop for this exhibit. We received complimentary passes for the museum. Afterwards, we visited Fran’s Chocolates to cash in our complimentary $25 gift card to pick up some famous salted caramels and truffles. Apparently it’s Obama’s favourite chocolate store.
After taking a quick stroll around downtown, we were ready to head back home. But we couldn’t cross the border without bringing a few good deals back! On our way home, we stopped by the Seattle Premium Outlets and Trader Joe’s.
With our bellies full, our tastebuds worked, and our kitchen replenished with goodies, we headed back home with memories of an awesome weekend adventure in a city that’s not too far away.