I need to take a break from writing about sexual harassment and the woeful state of affairs in the Middle East. What better way to do so than to tout a new Seattle restaurant? In the spot where Cafe Europa used to sit in Capitol Hill, two blocks from Volunteer Park, a new cafe has opened, Volunteer Park Cafe and Marketplace. I watched for months as they readied the new space wondering what would go in there. I waited for weeks before going in after the new place opened. But it’s on my way to and from picking up my son at TOPS School, so I thought I’d take them over for hot chocolate yesterday. I’m delighted to report that it is lovely. It’s in a bright open room with old fashioned tall ceilings (it was built as a store in 1905). In our dreary dark winters, it’s nice to see a room so full of light. VPC is mostly a breakfast and lunch place with lovely desserts tempting you from the counter top. After I finish this post I’m gonna have myself a scrumptious chocolate chip cookie and a walnut brownie (lest you think I’m a fresser (“hog”) only half of each since I’m sharing them with my wife).
The true test of a restaurant for me as a parent is the food for sure, but almost as important is how accepting they are of kids. I came in with my son and another boy who carpools with us. One of them (I better not say which one!) was feeling his oats, shall we say. Not being exactly a model citizen. I kept glancing over to see how the staff were taking it. When the boy in question put his arm through the front door mailbox slot I couldn’t tell whether the owner was annoyed or worried about him losing his arm (turns out the latter was probably the case). But today when I came back and apologized for the rambunctiousness, the same woman looked at me with a ‘pshaw’ look and said: “Hey, I have two boys of my own. That was nothing’.” That’s when I knew this was the place for me (and my family).
I have three young children who I care for part time. I also do the cooking at home. I used to love to cook from scratch. Those days are behind me now, I’m afraid. But I’m always on the lookout for great takeout food. And I’m pleased to report that I enjoyed a wonderful braised short rib pot pie last night. The crust was moist and tasty. The short ribs were melt in your mouth good. And the vegetables had been braised in wine. The entire dish was rich, complex and satisfying. What could be more comforting than a great pot pie? That was dinner for two adults with a little snacking for the kids all at the entirely reasonable price of $12.95!
VPC, unlike some new restaurants in this town which treat websites as an afterthought, has a nice website where you can peruse menus, read about the owners, and generally get to know the place a little better. They do need some nice photos of their food at the site though. I’m sure they’ll be getting to it soon.
One thing about this does seem unfair though. There are Seattle neighborhoods that beg for a decent restaurant and can’t buy one for love or money. But this little section of Capitol Hill now has not one, but two fabulous eateries. There’s Vios and now Volunteer Park (though it doesn’t serve three meals as the former does). If you live in Capitol Hill and environs you can bask in the glory of two fine establishments within blocks of each other.
1501 17th Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98112
Telephone: 206 328-3155
Glenn Condell says
That pot pie sounds good Richard. I have half a mind to jump on a plane to Seattle just to sample it. I had a beef and tomato pie with potato mash and peas last night, with a nice red. Very homey and satisfying.
Did you ever read Jonathan Raban’s lovely piece about post 911 Seattle in the New York Review of Books? Worth a look. I have had a hankering to visit the NorthWest ever since I read Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion years ago; still my alltime favourite American novel.
Anyway, all the best
Richard Silverstein says
I never read Raban’s piece in NYR but I’ll have to do so now. Let me know if you have a link.
I read Kesey’s great novel way back when I was in college & before I knew anything about the Pacific NW. At any rate, you should definitely visit us. We have great food here & our summers are to die for (& I’ve lived in many places in the world).
One thing though, if you visit & like it here don’t tell anyone back home. The city is changing before our very eyes with explosive growth & not all those changes are good ones. If too many people get in on the secret, then we’re liable to become the Next Big Thing & that would be terrible for us.
Glenn Condell says
The link for the Raban piece is here:
but it is now unfortunately behind a subscription wall. Maybe check ut the hardcopy next time you visit the Library.
Promise not to spread the word about the Northwest; the same thing is happening here, and is even worse for friends I have in places like New Zealand and Tasmania. Rich refugees from New York and London are relocating away from terror threats and pollution to quiet regions with clean water, good wine, trout and salmon, wilderness. This hunkering down provides an influx of money and so is OK with the govt, but many locals are upset at the sudden yuppification of their old fishing or farming village, where you now can’t get a burger for under ten bucks.
I guess you can’t please all of the people all of the time…
Richard Silverstein says
Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, but I found Raban’s article here. Anyone who has a local public library card can also use it to access electronic databases which would prob. contain the article as well.