Roving Food Adventures in Seattle: Citizen Coffee and Queen City Grill

Breakfast is not one of my favorite meals of the day. I can rarely respond to the plate in front of me as my body slowly comes to terms with the fact that I am still alive, and runs through its check list of limbs and organs to ensure they are still attached and functioning. My brain doesn’t engage in this process until quite a long way into the second cup of tea which is usually about an hour after I wake up.

Today however, my body thinks it’s been awake for hours and so is ready for something more substantial than just tea. On my way in to the office I stop off at a little independent coffee shop near to the Mothership called Citizen Coffee. I was introduced to this place on my last trip out to Seattle by a colleague and I was amazed that I remembered where it was. The coffee here is excellent, I had a mocha, which is my usual morning tipple and listened to another customer asking how filling the biscuits and gravy is, i.e. if he was really hungry would that be enough or does he need oatmeal in addition! Biscuits and gravy sounded great!… but apparently was very substantial so I decided to go for the safer farmers breakfast, which was basically 2 eggs over easy, crispy smoked bacon, herb roasted potatoes and multigrain toast. I think I have found the perfect bacon – smoked, slightly sweet and crispy, crispy, crispy! I may never say this again so listen carefully – what a fantastic breakfast! Delicious and wolfed down with appreciative gulps of the equally delicious coffee.

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Fast forwarding to dinner (lunch didn’t happen). I set out looking for shellfish, I had been thinking about a lovely crab dinner since mid afternoon and that was all I wanted. I can get quite fixated with certain foods at times and this was one of them. So I trotted down to the waterfront and basically walked up and down a looking at all the offerings and debating the various pros and cons of what was on offer. There was something not quite right with everything that I saw. So I ventured away from the waterfront just a little to a place which had been recommended to me by the same colleague who introduced the breakfast venue, Queen City Grill. It was a pretty unassuming place, on the corner of a busy crossroads with a couple of tables outsides where it was way too noisey to sit comfortably. I ventured inside and got comfy in a wooden booth near to the kitchen so that I could see what was going on and the smells eminating were very promising indeed. The menu was short and uncomplex and I was totally drawn to one thing and one thing alone…roasted quail stuffed with wild mushrooms on a bed of roasted vegetable pilaf with a huckleberry sauce.

While waiting for my food to arrive I was served with bread, I think sourdough with some pretty tasteless butter and I panicked. What if this was the standard of things to come? What would I tell Mary when she asked me where I had eaten dinner and what I thought of it? Thank god that my fears were misplaced as when my quail arrived it looked stunning and tasted fantastic. The skin was crispy, the mushroom stuffing was richly flavoured and seasoned to perfection and the vegetables were roasted just enough so that they were soft but not squishy. Even the pilaf was good, the rice still had bite and was full of flavour. The whole thing was brought together in a slightly weird and yet wonderful way by the huckleberry sauce which had a treacle like taste and consistency and worked extremely well with the sweet roasted veg and rich mushroom stuffing of the quail. I think I would have liked another quail, I could have easily eaten two, and they were very generously seasoned, perhaps a touch over seasoned but it didn’t spoil the dish.

I am not sure this place is for everyone, its pretty low key, quite dark and dingy and compared to all other places I have been to in Seattle, the service is polite but minimal, as in they leave you alone… completely alone. I loved it. If you are looking for somewhere snazzy with a water view or view of anything other than a main road this probably won’t appeal. However, if you looking for somewhere to quietly have a bloody good dinner then this is most definitely somewhere to put on your foodie list, and not a crab leg in sight!

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