Editor's Note

Check, Please. No Really, the Check. Please?

The one foul committed by an otherwise outstanding dining scene.

By James Ross Gardner August 18, 2017 Published in the September 2017 issue of Seattle Met

Shutterstock by asier romero 335032814 orgj3p

It’s like in one of those dreams where you can’t move. Or you can move but your legs motor at an excruciating pace, too slow to get you where you urgently must go. Your dream voice, too, is useless; it can barely muster a sound.

This to me is what it feels like when Seattle restaurants do the thing they all do, the thing they all get wrong. It’s a blunder made all the more manifest when you consider everything restaurants in Seattle get right. 

This month’s cover story, our annual tribute to Seattle dining (“Best Restaurants 2017”), is a kind of manifesto pinpointing where the city’s dining scene shines right now, however in flux it may be—however much it pivots, to employ that most 2017 of 2017 words. Our incomparable food and drink team—deputy editor Allecia Vermillion and associate editor Rosin Saez—charts this pivot, the result of
the city’s current economic and population boom, in lush detail. Read about it and you’ll never want to eat at home again. You will become a stranger in your own kitchen. Your stove will gather dust. Your dishes and cutlery will become neglected relics, heirlooms in waiting, bargaining chips for when your children, long gray and bitter, fight over your estate.

Seattle’s dining scene is that good. But here is what it is not: capable of bringing the check to you within anywhere near a reasonable amount of time. 

It usually plays like this: You enter the restaurant and the welcome could not be warmer. The rapport between you and your server models the comfort of a fourth date. The cocktail he suggests is the perfect cocktail. The radish soup or marinated scallops or short ribs float to your table, and they dazzle. You crane your phone camera above the dish and worry over the shot like Scorsese, you’re so dazzled. You will be thinking about these flavors for days. By the time the staff removes the empty plates you’re content, and you and your dining companions share this contentment as you a wait for the bill.

Then it happens. The bottom falls out. Your server goes AWOL. Staffers zag through the dining room but do not see you, do not notice you waiting. Time ticks away. A binged Netflix season seems to pass. The night grows old.

And so, on this occasion, when we celebrate the greatness of Seattle’s restaurants, I’d like to squeak in a modest plea: Restaurateurs, from Georgetown to Ballard, Alki to Madison Park, please, for the love of all that is Instagrammable, when the plates are cleared please bring the check.

The sooner I pay, the sooner I get to come back.

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