"celebrated chefs" of seattle

i hear there are amazing food tours of the city. (these are just a few: savor seattle, walking tours, seattle bites) i plan to try at least one, and perhaps many, depending on how long we stay in this fair city. i'm the foodie of my friends, so i'm not sure that we'll have any visitors requesting a food tour during their stay. that means anthony and i just may be on our own. oh darn! except, not really, because where there is good food there are happy people. and perhaps among those happy people we will find new friends, foodie friends.

case in point: when we went to cafe nordo we met a seattle native that had lived in many places beyond washington state, including japan. we told him we were looking for excellent asian food, and much to our delight he fervently spouted off a list of his recommendations. he also had recommendations for sandwich shops. and i'm sure he could give us a recommendation for just about anything food related. he has become our good food beacon.

anyways, back to food tours. several months ago, while my sister was visitng, we got brunch in west seattle. towards (what's the difference between toward and towards?) the end of the meal the server came over with a cookbook and an offer. offer: give them our credit card #, keep the cookbook (free), every time we dine at a restaurant in the book and use the card, 5% of our bill goes to charity. seriously? yep, no catch. seriously. so, we opted in, and then quickly forgot about it. until we dined at ray's cafe. we noticed the donation on our account register and decided we had better take a list at the list again. the program is called "celebrated chefs," and if you're visiting seattle, it's worth checking out. if you're visiting us, definitely let us know if there are any you want to try!

the restaurants are all over the city, the eastside and elsewhere, including whidbey island. these are the restaurants on the list that we've hit so far:

seastar in south lake union: see my "review" here.

ray's cafe in ballard: we went here expecting amazing seafood and were sorely disappointed. to be clear, ray's cafe is the cheaper version of ray's boathouse. ray's boathouse is supposedly obscenely expensive, but i'd say the cafe is way overpriced for the (lack of ) quality of food they serve. i'm still hoping to try ray's boathouse one of these days!

poppy in capitol hill: poppy is an example of the latest seattle restaurant to be over-hyped. i was psyched to try this restaurant and found a great opportunity while my parents were visiting from denver (my dad loves going to new and different restaurants too). the concept is 10 small plates on one larger plate- all per person. they do have some smaller options with only 6 or 7 small plates. the presentation was fantastic. such a clever concept, and i cannot imagine how much work goes into each and every plate. the taste was a mixed bag. a couple of the dishes were absolutely incredible, but many of them were over-worked (concepts taken too far). please note: i am not expert, have no professional food experience, nor am i food critic. as such, take my "reviews" with a grain of salt.

tidbit bistro in capitol hill: another mixed-bag with this one. our meal began with a bang, but devolved with each course. this is a restaurant will won't hit again.

ponti seafood grill in fremont/queen anne: this restaurant was incredible! we went here with our friends nick and manda while they were visiting. it was pretty expensive, but all of us thoroughly enjoyed our meals. although it's a seafood restaurant, i ordered a steak. it was the best steak i can remember having ever eaten. note: do not order the spanish coffee. waaaay too much bacardi 151.

nell's in greenlake: nell's is another place we visited with my parents. small, quiet and typical seattle fare. fresh vegetables paired with twists on classic recipes. good food, but a touch stuffy. perhaps a good one to try again in the summer.