Seattle, a city lousy with gorgeous water vistas and tree-dappled hillsides, sports the nation’s most recognizable Space Age monolith and not one but two nearby mountain ranges. Why are there so few rooftop restaurants from which to admire all this splendor? Mbar, Mamnoon’s worldly sibling atop the 400 Fairview building in South Lake Union, would have changed the game with its 14th-floor patio panorama, even if the globe-traversing food didn’t prove chef Jason Stratton as talented with hummus and za’atar as he is with tagliatelle and crudo.
Downtown at the Thompson Seattle hotel, the elevator shoots you nine floors up to The Nest, a rooftop bar that’s sceney in the extreme, but with a rare bird’s-eye view of Pike Place Market. Not that you need to admire ambient waters from a distance: The White Swan Public House and sister shack 100-Pound Clam are slung low at the edge of a marina on Lake Union’s southern shore; their food paints just as alluring a Northwest portrait as the white boats that bob outside. The menu’s rustic, in a water-facing sort of way: fried brussels fluttering with bonito flakes or poutine o’ the sea, which unites poutine and clam chowder in one spate of napkin-demanding gluttony. Like Mbar, it doubles down on surprises—a menu distinct from others in town, and an unfamiliar vantage from which to admire our city.