Taking restaurant savvy New Yorkers to dinner in Seattle can be a tough, for the obvious reasons. So here is my strategy: select a restaurant that is in no way trying to be a New York restaurant, a restaurant that is clear about being a Seattle restaurant. For me that is Campagne.
Set in the Pike Place Market (an excellent location for pre- or post-dinner walk), Campagne is the quintessential Seattle neighborhood restaurant, welcoming tourists and locals (who might dine there two or three nights a week) alike.
To dine at Campagne is to watch the Blue Angels fly in formation. It is to witness a corps de cuisine in the seamless execution of a single goal. Campagne is dance.
The hallmarks of Campagne's stellar service are knowledge, personality and discipline. Primary among these is knowledge, for which there is no substitute. The staff is encouraged to read, study and taste. For this crew, there is no end to the learning curve.
While distinct personalities contribute to the experience, the staff appears uniform and professional. Each is asked to stand squarely at table and face their customers because presence shows that they are paying attention and that they care.
Discipline is another critical ingredient of proper service mastered at Campagne. Each member of the staff is organized and capable of multi-tasking at the highest level, thereby creating an environment in which both the server and the guest can thoroughly enjoy the experience and emerge nourished and renewed.
The cuisine is certainly influenced by country French culinary traditions, but there is a distinctly Northwest flavor to the plates. Chef Daisley Gordon relies heavily on local and regional ingredients. Some of my favorites:
POIREAUX VINAIGRETTES-Leeks in white truffle vinaigrette served with croustade
ASSIETTE DE CHARCUTERIE-Served with cornichons, Dijon and stone-ground mustards,
and house-made pickled vegetables
STEAK FRITES À L'ANCHOIS-Pan-roasted beef onglet with sautéed greens, pommes frites and anchovy butter
BOUDIN BLANC AUX DEUX POMMES-Black truffle flecked chicken sausage served with roasted apples and potato purée
TIP: If you are planning on dining before the weather changes, ask if you can dine on the patio.