by Louis and Annette Bignami


Esquire called Campagne, "One of the best restaurants in America." The rather understated restaurant sprawls out of two large, attractive rooms into a bistro-style courtyard shared with the Inn at the Marketplace. Last visit on the Sunday after Seattle's Black and White Ball, Seattle's major society bash we arrived late. Dinner disappointed, but we heard the Chef, James Drohman, and some critical staff were away, we did arrive close to closing and all restaurants have nights like that. Thin staff in the front and back of the house could explain service that ranged from "leisurely" to downright slow, delivery of the wrong desert and a certain rough and ready approach to portions and plating.

Our grilled squab served with a caramelized onion and Armagnac sauce with artichoke and liver toasts simply did not come up in size or quality to the similar dish enjoyed last year in Chamonix. The taste of a rather flat rack of lamb disappeared under sweet garlic sauce and poached garlic. Asparagus and mascarpone risotto lagged in taste and texture behind rissottos in Milan and Venice last fall. The recommended roasted garlic, goat cheese and spinach ravioli with sage parsley butter, escargots and fried garlic chips was neither as tender nor as tasty as the raviolis at Il Terrazzo Carmine.

Given the reputation of the restaurant we plan a return soon on any day but Sunday, as they usually do better to justify their four stars and many other awards. At the usual exceptional level, Campagne combines traditional French techniques with Northwest ingredients. Reservations are suggested.


We used to favor Sunday brunch at Ivars on Union Lake or Anthony?s Pier 66 for simple seafood. Then Tom Douglas moved to the Dahlia Lounge, and branched out at Etta's just down the street from the Pike Place Market. Now Etta's is our usual lunch or dinner choice. Wildly varied dishes that swim in off seasonal menus run from fried talapia through superior seafood salads and stews. Side dishes such as fire grilled tamale "starters" and classic red bliss mashed potatoes deserve entrée status. One visit we combined tamales with the massive Bloody Mary's here and napped after. TIP: Do not miss desert choices shared with Dahlia.


We always leave room to split a huge wedge of coconut cream pie from the Dahlia Lounge, our favorite Seattle Restaurant, which offers what many consider the most interesting food in Seattle. It's furnishing reflect the same close attention to quality without ostentation you enjoy at meals with two levels of red, gold and brocade inserted into what was probably a standard storefront. We have not had a bad dish here, ever! Current favorites dance on and off the menu. Ours include wonderful seafood pasta with seared scallops, quail with a spring roll and pomegranate sauce and a killer Alaskan Black Cod.

The ambiance here exactly suits us. You get a mix of serious "foodies," business travelers smart enough to read restaurant reviews and those ubiquitous Microsoft Millionaires. You hear the kind of happy babble that leads you to check the entrees on the next table or, at times, pass samples for taste testing back and forth. Fortunately, they offer "doggie" bags for deserts and such. The only drawback we find is the weekend wait for reservations, and the skid row types in the neighborhood that suggest you cab back to your lodgings.