Seattle is a quick flight from San Francisco, and while Portland gets a lot of the food buzz these days, this Northwest city has a lot to be excited about. As you all know, we're so spoiled (or blessed, depending on how you look at it) with the variety of farmers markets, food shops, restaurants and cafes in the Bay Area. Le Pichet fits right into this picture of locally-sourced food, clear point of view, heavily edited menu, and deliberate aesthetic. Next time you visit Seattle, you must pay a visit to this sweet, understated French-style cafe. You'll feel both at home right away and as if you've stepped into a Paris of a different era. Sensing both familiarity and intrigue is, if you ask me, a most welcome feeling.
Jim Drohman and Joanne Herron opened Le Pichet in 2000 ("Le Pichet" means "The Pitcher," the ceramic vessel in which simple, traditional French neighborhood spots served wine). The 32-seat restaurant specializes in French food with Chef de Cuisine, Brent Harding, at the helm. In opening Le Pichet, Drohman left a career as an Aeronautical Engineer and Herron a long career in the service industry. Both were drawn to French food and French culture, and found a welcome home in the Pike Place Market Historical District -- a spot that feels a bit more touristy and urban than quaint and European. But they're doing something right. On weekends, you'll often find it difficult to squeeze into a table, and couples sit with a bottle of wine and a little charcuterie late into the evenings.
Mornings at Le Pichet aren't for everyone. Le Casse Croûte menu is served all day long, and is really what you'll have in your hands if you stroll in for breakfast. What I like about this menu is they do it their way. This is not a typical American breakfast: you won't find over-stuffed omelettes (or omelettes at all) or platters of bacon and pancakes. What you will find is strong coffee, wonderful baguettes with butter and jam, housemade yogurt with honeyed walnuts, lovely housemade pastries, and a variety of meats and small sandwiches. At 11:30 p.m., Le Dejeuner menu is introduced with more salads and main plates. And at 5:30 p.m. a heartier dinner menu is available with main entrees including roast chicken, Penn Cove mussels, and whole roasted trout. The atmosphere is always the same: convivial and inviting yet quiet and understated.
I prefer it in the mornings; you can sit for a few hours reading the paper, people watching, and drinking cup after cup of coffee. I also adore that it's really in the heart of downtown, a skip away from Pike Place Market, and yet it feels like a secluded respite far outside of the city. Next time you're visiting, go see for yourself.
1933 1st Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98101
Hours: Everyday, 8am - Midnight
Other Quiet Spots for Breakfast in Seattle:
- Volunteer Park Cafe: Good absolutely anytime of day (those cookies!), VPC is wonderful in the mornings for a slice of quiche at the big, rustic community table. Their caramelized banana brioche and breakfast panini are also quite popular (did I mention you should get a cookie to go?)
- Cafe Besalu: Ballard's neighborhood bakery has the flakiest croissants in the entire city. Not many seats and often a line out the door, everything here from strong lattes to savory scones are worth waiting for.
- The Fat Hen: The Fat Hen is a relatively new spot in the North Ballard neighborhood housing Delancey and Honore Bakery, and it boasts simple breakfast and lunch items including baked eggs, housemade granola and yogurt, and coffee cake and other little sweets.
- Macrina Bakery: Macrina is a Seattle classic. Their rocket muffins are pretty wonderful as are the Italian plum roll and morning buns. Much more of a bakery than a sit down cafe, they're well known for their breads, pastries, and granola.
- Eltana: Eltana is a new discovery for me and while I think the space itself is sterile and uninspired, the hand-rolled wood-fired bagels and housemade spreads and schmears are incredible. When I decide to sit and stay, I always order the Shakshuka (Israeli pepper, tomato, and egg stew). It's hearty, warm and perfect for sopping up with a rustic bagel.
- Glo's: Down-home and unfussy. Endless cups of coffee and the best Eggs Florentine in the city. A little gem in Capitol Hill.