Uber gets into the local restaurant delivery business, Canlis does the right thing, the possibilities (and pitfalls) of a Seattle Feast and more.
1. UberEATS MAKES SEATTLE DEBUT: Uber’s 10-minutes-or-less (!?) restaurant food-delivery service launches in Seattle on Wednesday, October 7, and it seems possible that UberEATS will quickly dominate in the arena, despite the company’s labor problems. They’re pulling out all the stops for their (private) launch party, with Murray Stenson tending bar and Sharlese Metcalf from KEXP spinning, plus a surprise musical guest. We’re the 10th city to get Uber servicing our stomachs.
2. CANLIS ON THE BRIDGE: It was distressing to see suggestions on social media that what Canlis did last week — bringing coffee and sandwiches to first responders out on the span of the Aurora Bridge after the Ride the Ducks accident, then also serving them inside the restaurant — was for publicity and that they would’ve had to close for the day anyway.
I spoke briefly by phone with Mark Canlis on the afternoon of the terrible accident. “We’re just a good spot for a cup of coffee and a restroom and lunch,” he said. “It’s pretty much the natural thing to do… We’re taking care of them the best we can. What we’re doing isn’t a big deal.”
He was understandably reluctant to talk about it at all and made no hay of it afterward.
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3. FEAST SEATTLE?: Feast Portland is a food-freak’s bacchanal, and it’s often said to be the best event of its kind in the country. When I went for the first time two weeks ago, I found a lot to love, including top-notch chefs from around the country, like Aaron Franklin of Austin’s world-famous Franklin Barbecue and Alvin Cailan from Los Angeles’ wildly popular Eggslut. Portland all-stars were also all over the place. But watching people take a bite or three of a chef’s sample and throw the rest away — in order to be able to eat more — was disconcerting, to say the least. And stepping over homeless people bedding down on the Burnside Bridge while trying to walk off the gluttony of the Sandwich Invitational felt criminal.
Last week, the Downtown Seattle Association contacted me to ask about my experience; it seems we could potentially have our own Feast in Pioneer Square and Westlake. Feast Portland donates all proceeds to organizations working to feed hungry people — we’d definitely want to do that, and to address food waste. And, while realizing that people don’t want too much medicine with their food, could such an event look at food policy and inequity? Is it possible to engage meaningfully with the issue of homelessness while feasting in the parks that many have called home? Let’s start the conversation.
4. LABOR AND CHAINS: Starbucks is in hot water after pledging to improve its labor practices and failing to make any real headway. And responding to protests, Whole Foods is pulling cheese and fish produced by meagerly paid prisoners from its shelves.
5. NEW MEXICAN FOOD: Botaneria and Tortas Condesa are both newly open and likely to be excellent, while Mama’s will be there for a while longer for your nostalgic needs. Here’s more on all that. (And don’t forget that Villa Escondida has reopened in Belltown; it’s some of Seattle’s best Mexican food.)
NOW OPEN: Tortas Condesa on Capitol Hill and Botaneria in Georgetown (probably great Mexican food, see #5 above); EuroPub on Broadway (tons of beer in the former dollar store near Dick’s); Charlie’s Restaurant in White Center (from the owner of the Charlie’s Buns N’ Stuff food truck); Queen Bee Cafe on Queen Anne (excellent crumpets, also on Madison near 23rd); Refresh Frozen Desserts on Broadway (locally owned frozen yogurt where a couple chains have come and gone).
CHEF SHIFTS: Zephyr Paquette (Skelly and the Bean, Dandelion, Cafe Flora) is the new chef at Marjorie on Capitol Hill, while Sam Doman (John Howie Steak, The Metropolitan Grill) is now in charge of the kitchen at Rookies in Columbia City.
FOOD EVENTS: Amuse your bouche.