Explore the Ooh-La-La Factor at Seattle's Finest French Restaurants
By Corinne Whiting
Seattle Local Expert
Do you love French food? Bien sur! That's a no-brainer; we do too, and that's why we dedicate ourselves to finding the best places to enjoy French cuisine in Seattle. We've diligently scouted out the top eateries, and we've listened to our readers and their reviews of Seattle restaurants. We share the places that get great buzz, like Café Campagne, and we showcase the ones that have proven themselves over time, like Le Gourmand. We also point out good neighborhoods for French restaurants in the Seattle - Downtown area, for instance. When the craving hits, we'll make sure you get your fix! French food in Seattle means fresh baguettes, quiches, soups, tartes, steaks, seafood and the decadent desserts we've all come to expect, but it also means fusion dishes inspired but the flavors of the globe. Mais oui, extensive wine lists complement each food menu, and creative cocktails also make for excellent pairings in this modern age, too. All of these restaurants feature decor elements and ambiences that effectively reflect the romantic air of France—some whisk diners away to intimate Parisian eateries, perfect for a date night or a quiet spot in which to celebrate special occasions, while other venues have the feel of a bustling French cafe on a weekend morning. Either way, you will enjoy. La vie est belle!
A mainstay in the Pike Place Market for more than thirty years, Maximilien is a romantic and charming French restaurant with spectacular patio views. Owner-operated since 1997, Maximilien boasts the old-world charm of any romantic hideaway in Paris (with a Northwest twist). From inside or on the patio, enjoy a panoramic view that takes in Puget Sound, Elliott Bay, West Seattle and the Olympic Mountains. Antique mirrors cover most of the walls to make this romantic view sublime from any seat in the house. The chefs at Maximilien cook using local ingredients and French techniques. The result? A delectable, seasonally-changing menu highlighted by such signatures as the wonderful "Duck Confit." (2066827270)
Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge
Toulouse Petit Kitchen and Lounge has been earning accolades almost since it opened. The ornate and filigreed interior of the space is just the beginning of a dining experience built on the food, style and attitude of New Orleans' French Quarter. Offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night dining, the restaurant has a voluminous menu encompassing Italian, Spanish and French-countryside and coastal-Mediterranean cuisine, along with a full slate of affordable American-style Ppime steakhouse selections, traditional Northwest seafood and a multitude of house-made charcuterie and small-plate offerings. And as you might expect from a spot that takes its cues from the French Quarter, Toulouse is renowned for its happy hour, including the one timed perfectly for a leisurely and extended brunch. (2064329069)
This charming spot on South Capitol Hill near Seattle University (open since 2007) offers full coffee service featuring Caffe Vita coffee, house-made pastries, affordable French wines, a full bar open daily until 2 a.m., a newsstand of various magazines and newspapers and a menu of "casual Parisian café classics." Patrons feast on options from baguette sandwiches and French onion soup to cod filet, crispy duck leg and vegetarian Raclette. Weekends at Café Presse mean soccer matches featuring teams from America, Europe and around the globe in the bar up front. Café Presse is open every day from 7am til 2am. (206.709.7674)
The skill in preparation that you'll find at this French bistro is practically awe-inspiring. From homemade sausages to a golden roast chicken, everything is provided the utmost care and given a light, capable touch. As a result, flavors shine through, offering diners the essence of the food. The rich country-style pâté is exceptional and makes for a wonderful appetizer, as do the oysters, dressed with a zesty sauce of muscadet wine and shallots. Other specialties include grilled sturgeon, boudin blanc sausage, and a substantial portion of onion soup. Open throughout the day, the eatery welcomes diners with savory traditional fare and a substantial serving of casual charm. (206-256-1499)
Locals and visitors alike flock to RN74, Michael Mina's downtown outpost, known for its "creative, modern, yet simple interpretations of regional French cuisine." In the chic lounge area, visitors enjoy delectable treats like duck fat fries, bacon-flavored popcorn, jazzed-up deviled eggs, sliders and beef skewers. Main dishes include locally-sourced, seasonal highlights like house-aged steaks, vegetables from local organic farms and Puget Sound seafood (like Michael Mina's Ahi Tuna Tartare). But perhaps, most importantly, patrons return for RN74's extensive wine list that highlights the Burgundy region of France plus boutique wine producers from Washington and Oregon. In addition to pouring at least 40 wines by the glass (priced from $6-$32) and 1,300-plus wines by the bottle, RN74 currently features Champagne and sparkling wine from around the world. Try them by the glass, half-glass or as a flight representing five different countries. ((206) 456-7474)
If you can't get a reservation for lunch or dinner at Campagne and still want to experience the award-winning, bistro-style restaurant, then try the café for brunch. You can't go wrong, and you can visit the Market while in the area. A quintessential Parisian decor provides a delightful backdrop for a fine morning meal, including freshly squeezed orange juice and steaming coffee. Try French toast made with brioche and bourbon egg batter or a fluffy omelet stuffed with potatoes and laced with rosemary.The restaurant also places emphasis on beverage pairings, and an extensive wine menu offers a wide array, most varietals sold by the glass or by the bottle. (206-728-2233)
611 Supreme Creperie & Cafe
Owner and chef Margaret Edwins opened the venue in 1997 as a crêperie serving options ranging from traditional to Breton buckwheat "crepes de sarrasin." This cozy red-brick eatery is ideal for people on a budget, especially if Sunday brunch is on the slate. As the name no doubt hints, homemade crêpes are the stars (many local rags regard these as the "best in town"), and the skilled chef stuffs them with everything from salmon, ham, and Gruyere cheese to scallions, potatoes, and sautéed veggies. Friendly, Parisian-esque service and a comfortable lounge make this an easy fave of Capitol Hill's young, hip crowd. (206-328-0292)
An intimate standout at Pike Place Market, this restaurant beckons you to spend romantic time with someone special. Whether you dine outdoors or in, the warm, inviting French bistro, find spectacular views. Indoor tables boast lovely window vistas, and in summer months, a summer patio overlooks market architecture, Elliot Bay and the majestic Olympic Mountains. Fish that have been fresh-caught that very day, maybe even that very hour, grace the menu, along with briny mussels and a rich onion soup crusted with gruyere. Place Pigalle's strong points include delicious seasonal menus that combine local ingredients with a variety of culinary traditions. (206-624-1756)
Filled with rich wood accents, snowy white tablecloths, and elegant table settings, this restaurant in the Belltown neighborhood offers Northwest-influenced French classics in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. Start with the soup du jour; French onion soup, rich with caramelized onions and gruyère cheese, is a comforting favorite. A grilled sea scallop brochette, served over warm chorizo-potato salad, and a giant mushroom ravioli with white truffle cream are indicative of the menu's breadth. Traditional dishes like coq au vin, beef bourguignonne, and steak frites arrive with delicious sides and don't disappoint. Save room for tiramisu profiteroles or the crème brûlée of the month! (206-777-1990)
Bastille Cafe and Bar
Get transported to a Parisian cafe with charming, authentic decor like 19th-century sconces from a church in the French countryside, a clock that once hung in a Paris metro station and a host stand that once serviced a small French hotel. The food is equally delightful; try main dishes like moules frites, steak frites, the fish of the day, ricotta Cavatelli and the roasted half chicken with Dijon dumpling, black trumpet mushroom and Brussels sprout gratin. The Back Bar, the self-proclaimed "sexiest place in town" with a crystal chandelier and Art Deco sconces, is the ideal spot for cocktails before or after your meal. (206.453.5014)
About Corinne Whiting
Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's backpacked around Australia, taught English in Argentina and explored (so far!) countries from Cambodia and Egypt to Turkey and China. Corinne served as associate editor at Where magazine for five years; as a freelancer, she now writes for publications like National Geographic Traveler and Amtrak's OnTrak. Here in the lovely Northwest, she's attempting to debunk the rain myths, up her coffee and live music quotient and find her Zen near/on the water.
Read more about Corinne Whiting here.