Critic's Notebook

Best Lunch in Seattle Revealed Last Week

It’s not what you’re expecting. It’s better.

By Kathryn Robinson March 17, 2014

Lentils, feta, and avocados in the shop.

Last week the most charming cookbook I’ve seen in ages landed on my desk: Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal, by Peter Miller.

You know Miller as the proprietor of Peter Miller Architectural and Design Books and Supplies, which forever anchored the 1900 block of First Avenue downtown. Last spring high rents drove the longtime bookseller deeper into Belltown, into a space in the Suyama Peterson Deguchi studio on Second Avenue.

More than a shop owner, Miller is a born raconteur and bon vivant; a well-read, well-traveled wit who is also, as it happens, a lovely cook. In the back of a shop with no oven and no cooktop he and his staff have turned out daily lunches for a decade, transforming what’s freshest at nearby Pike Place Market (and what he sometimes needs to pre-cook and bring from home) into simple meals that shimmer with offhand elegance and a Euro sensibility.  

Paging through I find myself wanting to make every single thing in it.

Penne Pasta with Sausage, Red Peppers, and Peas is a nod to the mad genius Peter Cipra, who for years ran Labuznik next door to Miller’s original shop. Lentils, Laid Out with Avocado and Feta looks delectable, enlivened with lemon and crumbled cilantro leaves. A Spinach Sandwich, Friends with Olive and Basil, served on a split ciabatta roll with a smear of tapenade and a big slice of beefsteak tomato, is one of many dishes included that another chef might’ve left out for its simplicity.

For Miller, simple treatments of the Northwest’s astonishing ingredients is the point.

It’s only March but Lunch at the Shop ($24.95, Abrams Books) has already secured a spot for the local gastronomes on my Christmas list.

Who knew March was such a lunchy month. If lunch at the shop ain’t in your game plan, this month’s Seattle Met offers well over 100 recommendations of restaurants, takeouts, and cafes where terrific cooks will make it for you.



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