NOT LONG AGO I asked a smart young newcomer to Seattle, a physicist and aspiring poet from a city to the east, what drew her here. She didn’t miss a beat. “It’s the magic,” she sighed. Arts and culture bubbling up in every corner. Fascinating people and flourishing innovation and inspiring art, often in the most unexpected places. “Seattle,” she concluded dreamily, “is what Paris must’ve been like in the ’20s.”
I think about that remark a lot—about a transplant’s bliss at landing in a city so luxuriantly saturated with the arts—but never more than I did upon arriving for the first time at the Tin Table. In the heart of alt Pike/Pine, in the historic brick Oddfellows Building, tucked like a speakeasy up a flight of stairs, across the hall from the gilded Century Ballroom—which was, literally, in full swing—the joint oozes culture before you’ve even walked in the door.
“Speakeasy” is a startlingly apt comparison. The bones of the room—fir floors, brick walls, timber joists—contribute raw historicity, as does the fire escape framed in one window, and the old hairpin radiators, and the heft and high ceilings of the handsome old building. An indigo-lit wall of champagne flutes glowed at the entry. The dark candlelit bar was packed with dancers and drinkers and other denizens of the demimonde, knocking back stiff cocktails and very good champagne. Back in the corner a round candelabra twinkled above the eponymous tin table, a square 12-seater, fashioned from repurposed fire doors.
As we lingered at the host station a herd of dancers galloped across the floor in the studio upstairs, momentarily shaking the rafters like a passing train. Isadora Duncan would have adored this place.
“Party of two?” inquired a pierced, spiky-haired bohemian whose sunny warmth shamed my bourgeois expectations. She threaded us through the tables, packed with casual Hill-dwellers of all ages and stations, and as I followed I couldn’t help menu-shopping from their plates. Mmmm, vegetables galore. Field-fresh young carrots dotted with crumbled goat cheese and…are those…grapes? Wow…that is some Himalaya of shoestring frites. Nice creamy blops of feta cheese on a frisée-beet salad. And what is on that skewer?
It was chunks of grilled housemade bread and fresh mozzarella, lavished with anchovies drenched in herby olive oil. Our waiter, an even more wholesome hipster than our host, earnestly recommended this starter, suggesting we order it along with the salt cod fritters. Though we didn’t agree about the combination—too much salt with our brine, thanks—individually each was inventive and delish. Especially the fritters, which were assembled with a light touch and garbed in a garlic red sauce rich as a good romesco.