Critic's Notebook

Restaurants That Serve What Most People Most Want to Eat

In Seattle, believe it or not…it’s kind of a rare business plan.

By Kathryn Robinson March 30, 2017

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The chicken everybody wants at Thackeray.

This month in the magazine we look at Thackeray, the latest property from the folks who brought us Purple, Barrio, Meet the Moon, and more. It’s huge, geared for crowds, and distinguished by menus filled with what a person might describe as “crowd-pleaser food”: crispy chicken wings, charred broccoli, chopped salad, braised short rib, caramel apple crisp, that kind of thing. Food that fulfills the expectations of the broadest possible contingent of diners.

As opposed to artier restaurants filled with, as I wrote, the “nasty bits, raw stuff, and inventive edge that connoisseurs go around praising.”

There may be no more meaningful dividing rubric within the world of restaurants—even more than the classic categories like casual/formal or expensive/cheap—and not just because it mirrors the populist/elitist divide currently on the ascendancy in our public sphere. Every time we choose a restaurant, it’s a mini-declaration of what role we want food to play in our lives. Yes, food will nourish and sustain us—but do we want it to do that by comforting us or by challenging us?

Seattle, overrepresented by educated, globe-trotting sophisticates with disposable incomes, sustains a natural constituency of connoisseurs who choose the latter—and the extraordinary restaurants that serve them. But for those who prefer the former? Where do they go?

Say hello to Thackeray. And its siblings. As for other full-service restaurants in Seattle whose menus hold a high percentage of items beloved by a high percentage of the populace…I’m thinking Butcher’s Table, maybe? Tallulah’s? Lost Lake? Skillet?

What's your favorite Seattle crowd-pleaser?


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