Seattle Restaurant Week

Tilth dessert

When summer leaves and the rains begin Seattleites shift into the “surviving Seattle” mode. The Seattle Times and the local restaurant community capitalize on this transition by drawing attention to our nationally acclaimed culinary scene and enticing “survivors” to explore the best of it.

Restaurant Week is co-sponsored by the Times and the Seattle Restaurant Association for two weeks each spring and fall. This fall’s event is underway right now; from October 19 – 23 and 26 – 30 (Sunday through Thursday). For the next two weeks 134 of Seattle’s best restaurants will be offering three-course gourmet meals for $30.

Maria Hines

Last night M and I took advantage of the promotion to see what Chef Maria Hines was offering at Tilth, her signature location in the Wallingford area. Hines has been a star on the Seattle scene since 2005 when she was named one of Food and Wine Magazine’s 10 Best New Chefs. She was at the W Hotel’s Earth and Ocean then but opened Tilth in 2006 and in 2008 the restaurant was named one of the New York Times 10 best new restaurants in the country. In 2009 Chef Hines topped it off by winning the James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest.


We were not disappointed last night, although we were surprised by one entree. Tilth is certified organic and specializes in New American cuisine. M chose a celeriac-apple soup for her first course followed by pork belly and a brioche pudding with huckleberries for dessert. I had the pork belly too, but started with pate campagne and finished with Theo’s Chocolate ganache cake topped with Chantilly crème (pictured above). Everything was delicious and beautifully served.

M and I love good food as you might have gleaned from other posts on this blog, but we were fooled last night when I confused pork belly with pork cheeks. The difference is significant. I became a fan of pork cheeks when I sampled them in three different Paris bistros this spring.  Last night when I saw pork belly on the menu at Tilth I was excited. I confess I didn’t realize there was a difference between the two cuts. The difference, I now realize, is that pork cheeks are “relatively” lean while pork belly is a boneless cut of fatty meat – the same cut that bacon is made from.

We were both surprised when the entrée’s arrived. I loved mine but M, who doesn’t eat fat, had to trim hers off (and donate to me). It was a lesson in culinary humility. We should have been aware of the difference since pork belly is a staple in Asian cuisine and we had seen it on many menus in Saigon. At least we know now.

Tilth 2

But that’s what Restaurant Week is for – trying new restaurants and tasting new iterations of Northwest cuisine.

More tomorrow…


  1. I don’t know about you Jack, a guy your age not knowing the difference between cheeks and belly. Musta led a sheltered life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *