Monday, May 23, 2011

Eating in Seattle - Pike Place Chowder

I am still in Seattle and enjoying this city tremendously.  I really want to go on and on about how fabulous the Pike Place Market is because honestly that market is the best I've ever seen in the United States.  The produce is amazingly fresh and they have everything from wild ramps to baby purple artichoke to muscat grapes.  They have incredibly unique and delicious varieties of apples and pears which they are happy to let you try.  They have salmon and halibut and clams and oysters.  They have gorgeous flower arrangements which are much larger and more beautiful than those you can get at a regular grocery store or supermarket, and best of all they are only priced at $5 or $10.  They have art, dreamcatchers (I've always wanted one), jewelry, clothes, honey, jellies, pasta, cheese.  There is more here than you can really see in one day.  We've spent five days exploring the ins and outs of the market and I'm still not tired of it.  But that's not what I want to post about today.  What I want to talk to you about is chowder.

Near the market there is a little corner place where "visitors from all over the world" (according to their website) come to try their chowder, aptly named Pike Place Chowder.  And they have many different varieties of chowder, along with a daily changing specialty.  We've tried the following:
1) the smoked salmon chowder, which featured capers and a light hint of cream cheese.  A very good chowder, with a great salmon flavor.
2) the seared scallop chowder, which has dill and lemon flavors.  We also liked this one.  The scallop flavor really shined.
3) the crab and oyster chowder (which was one of the changing daily chowders).  This one had potatoes and leeks as well, and the oyster flavor was amazing.
4) the Southwestern chicken and corn chowder, which sounds plain, but was very flavorful.  I thought it wasn't as special as the seafood chowders, but it was not at all boring or disappointing.
5) the seafood bisque, which included salmon, Oregon bay shrimp, and calamari in a tomato-based broth.  Also good.

All of their chowders (some of which are pictured above) tasted great and were surprisingly spot on in terms of flavor.  I've always liked chowder, but I never knew there were so many types, or that it could be so flavorful and so much more than just broth and cream.  We ordered so many chowders, we forgot which one was which, and even though we were told several times, the guy who was helping us with our order told us after the third time we asked that we would be able to tell.  I thought he was just saying that to get us off his back, but it was true.  We all had fun figuring out which cup was which chowder.  We ended up coming back again to have some more chowder.

We also tried the Dungeness Crab roll which they say is acclaimed, but we really didn't think it was anything special.  It was a giant sub roll with a lot of chopped lettuce and a little bit of shredded crab meat.  They didn't cook the crab meat in anything special or give any unique sauce or flavoring.  Below average and expensive, at around $14 for something we didn't even bother finishing.

Nevertheless, I would definitely recommend coming here for the chowders.  This place is a great spot for a quick, easy, and fast meal, although as a warning sometimes there is a line.  But it moves fairly quickly.  Pike Place Chowder is not ideal for a date as it is very casual, but it is a perfect place for friends or family.  My only complaint?  The bread.  I'm not a fan of room temperature (and in Seattle that means slightly cool), soft, sourdough bread.  It tasted like something you buy at a grocery store for a very low price.  I would prefer if they had a nice crispy baguette.  This one small issue aside, if you find yourself in Seattle, within walking distance of Pike Place Market, be sure to stop by and get some chowder.  For the best deal, get their chowder sampler and choose 4 different chowders for about $11.

Pike Place Chowder
1530 Post Alley
Seattle, WA 98101
Tel. 206-267-2537
Overall rating for the price: 8.5 out of 10

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