2012.12.27.seattlemet.thewhalewins.brent 161 edit yjd4st

It's this one.

Image: Olivia Brent

Perhaps you’ve heard of Eater, the national outfit with local outposts that follows restaurants almost as fervently as we do. Regularly they update their local lists of what they judge each city’s most essential restaurants, but last year they did it for the whole country: Picked 38 restaurants that America couldn’t live without.

One Seattle restaurant made that list—and, we found out yesterday, made this year’s update too. That restaurant is The Whale Wins.

Critic Bill Addison: “The Whale Wins takes the communal, Pacific Northwest aesthetic of chef Renee Erickson’s other restaurant, the Walrus and the Carpenter, and delves into dishes that are saucier and riskier, with a menu of punched-up zingers.” He also liked the space, which “shines in all of Seattle’s seasons, cozy enough to stand up to the misty months, airy enough to be flooded with light when the sun finally appears.” 

What do you think, Seattle? Is Erickson's victorious leviathan Seattle's best exemplar of a place that "shaped and defined American dining?" (For context, Portland was represented on last year's list by Pok Pok; and on this year's instead by the Russian wow, Kachka.) Personally, to fill that shaping and defining mandate, I would have looked to Matt Dillon's Bar Sajor or Sitka and Spruce before The Whale Wins--which for its concept and its execution I regard as the stunningly talented Renee Erickson's least compelling property. 

What would you have included?