It’s a tough call but I think Altura is my favorite restaurant in Seattle. This was my fourth time back and every meal has been exceptional. Chef Nathan Lockwood opened this cozy spot at the end of Broadway on Capitol Hill in 2011. You’ll see Nathan nominated for Best Chef, Best Fine Dining Restaurant, Best New Restaurant, Restaurant of the Year, but somehow this place keeps flying under the radar of my foodie friends. Which is fine by me because I enjoy being able to get a table.
For the food alone, Altura tops my list. Precise attention to detail without being fussy or tortured. Delicious. Creative approaches to local ingredients. This easy comfortable genius. A willingness to try new things, to avoid the ruts of past laurels. This procession of moans and “Fuck this is good”s. But that’s just the start. It’s all of the small things that I appreciate. The pottery by Akiko. The choice of knife. The small wooden serving blocks. The eclectic environment, the artfully assembled hodge-podge of chairs and benches and tables, the clever use of space, the magical odds and ends on the walls, cloth towels in the bathroom. A great soundtrack. And the atmosphere. A very calm and welcoming vibe. The cooks often bring their own dishes to your table woven seamlessly with the server and the somm. A genuine happiness. A love for what they’re doing. I always feel at home at Altura. Free from artifice and pretense. Even though the dishes can be quite refined.
I consider an epic meal like this a symphony. A procession of notes and movements that weave together an experience. With every dish there is a balance and harmony. It’s rare to have such a meal without a single note out of place. Maybe I’m just lucky but every time I go here my experience has been perfect. And leave not only full and satisfied, but happy. I guess that’s what it boils down to, this place makes me happy.
Stuzzichini is Italian for appetizer, snack, nibble, or finger food. The meal begins with a flight of amuse-bouche style bites in quick succession. These have been different every time I’ve come.
Celebration of winter shellfish
Cartoccio (not pictured)
Darrel’s bread, wild onion butter with preserved Sorrento lemon
Satsuma and sea buckthorn sorbetto
Sea breeze farm guinea hen
Bourbon caramel semifreddo
Affogato (not pictured)
Mascarpone gelato, amaro Montenegro
Aerated hot chocolate
Baba au rhum
Grappa soaked luxardo cherries
Coffee and port
Inside the restaurant
One of the reasons Altura is my favorite Seattle restaurant is its cozy and casual atmosphere. I always feel at home here. You are served courses by the chef who constructed them. And I never find myself worrying about fancy restaurant protocol. Great food, friendly faces, creative attention to detail.