The best seat at Montlake Cut is at the bar

by | Culture, Dining

You’ve done it again: forgotten to make a reservation. Here it is, a Friday night, and you feel frightfully un-tethered. Nowhere to dine. Cheer up — and head out. Surely there’s a seat for you, or you and a plus-one (soul mate? blind date?) at the bar. Savvy diners do it at all the top spots. Hard-to-book Lucia. Aspirational Gemma. Laid-back, loose-limbed Bolsa. Sexy, 5-star FT33.

Now comes Montlake Cut, Nick Badovinus’ snazzy new seafood place in Preston Center, and guess what: There may not be a table in the house that beats sitting at the bar, pale gray and marbly-cool and condimental. Its padded barstools, swiveled to attention and looking just like seats on an idealized fishing boat — comfy white chairs on sticks — seem to salute. Snag your spot and order up a dozen Shigoku oysters from Willapa Bay, Washington. Or a warming bowl of clam chowder.

The bartender knows his wine list. Umbrellas and mermaids jazz up the cocktails. Now the barman smooths a paper place mat before you on the marble: an antique map of Elliot Bay, Puget Sound, Seattle, the Cascades. The lay of the land and the sea.

Go ahead: Splurge on a Dungeness crab cocktail. Commit to a main course, maybe pan-roasted Tasmanian steelhead fillets on dill-y sauce gribiche. Or fettucine tossed with chanterelles and sweet king crab. Perfect with a glass of something from the Willamette Valley, maybe a Penner Ash Viognier.

And you thought you’d stay home and order in.

by LESLIE BRENNER | photograph by MANNY RODRIGUEZ