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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

September 15, 2011 at 7:25 AM

What’s the best restaurant? Depends on who’s asking

Early this morning, while drinking my first cup of coffee, I answered two queries regarding where to take guests for dinner. One was from a fellow looking for a special occasion restaurant to celebrate his mother’s 70th birthday. The other from a guy who wanted to impress out-of-town guests hungry for Chinese. Add to that the suggestions sent last night, via Facebook, to a childhood friend — and well-known Philadelphia restaurateur — who’s on his way to Seattle for an overnight.

To their great good credit, each of these folks gave me excellent details: the 70-year-old mom’s party-man’s looking for a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” and he’s willing to drop a grand. The Chinese food-lovers are older out-of-towners and “fussy, in a good way.” And the restaurant chef? He’s got his college-bound son in tow, an 18-year-old with “very sohisticated taste buds,” and he’s looking for something casual for lunch and dinner. Which reminds me of my “Taste of the Town” column, excerpted below, written 10 years ago: a family tale that segued into a how-to for readers who regularly ask me: “Where should I go to eat?”

My sister Jill, a single mom who’s looking 40 square in the eye, called from South Jersey a couple of weeks ago to tell me all about her New York adventure. She and a group of galpals left work and kids behind, drove up the Garden State Parkway to New York City and hit the town for a much-deserved Girls’ Night Out. They saw a Broadway show, and afterward, treated themselves to dinner at (as she put it) “Molto Mario’s new restaurant.” “You ate at Esca?” I asked, as jealous as I was impressed, having been blown away by the food at Mario Batali’s Greenwich Village gem, Babbo.”How was it?” “It was,” she said, pausing for effect, “the worst meal I ever ate in my life.” [Read the rest of that 2002 column here.]

And if anyone wants to weigh in on the reader queries above, by all means, please do.

70th birthday? Willing to drop a grand? This place would work. [Seattle Times/Tom Reese]

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