Repeatable: Yes. Visits: 2
Some restaurants can transport you to another place and time. Le Pichet offers up a romantic incarnation of a Parisian bistro, circa 1940. With its tiled floor, dark banquettes, and high ceilings, this bar-by-day and cafe-by-night could have easily come straight out of a black-and-white photograph by the late great Henri Cartier-Bresson.
The food is just as classy and well-composed, too. Even at lunchtime, when many Seattle restaurants (if they serve lunch at all) let their pants drop. I defy anyone to find another dish in the city as supremely civilized and lovely as Le Pichet’s duck salad ($9), with its rosy fan of cured duck slices and piquant-crunchy-savory-sweet tangle of watercress, pistachio, avocado and orange. So delicious that when I craved it the next day, I went back. It was even better the second time around.
Everything at Le Pichet is superb, in a low-key, confident way. The food doesn’t scream out to be admired; it just wants to be eaten. And the folks running the kitchen aren’t distracted by becoming the next food celebrity–they’re just quietly going about their business. Which may be why the the moules frites ($16) are so hauntingly good. The briny funk of mussels plays off the clean, sharp taste of sauteed apple and leeks, while the restrained curry-cider fumet adds an intriguing, subtle wash of flavor. The accompanying frites? Amber-crisp with brown speckled edges and immaculately fried– among the best in the city.
My husband, a regular, always orders the same dish at lunch: a side of frites with the egg plate ($8), two pillowy eggs broiled with ham and Gruyere ($8). Simplicity and perfection. Meanwhile, the onion soup ($11)–not French but Lyonnaise–was deeply savory–but, thankfully, not too salty, as such soups often are. I just wish there were more broth–the gigantic crouton filled the plate and soaked up more soup than I did. For the always lovely quiche of the day, go early, before 12:30, when it has typically sold out.
Though there is considerable crossover between the dinner and lunch menus, a few items are offered only in the evening. Such as the roast chicken for two ($34) , a crackling, glistening, juicy bird that will convert anyone who believes, like I do, that life is too short to eat chicken. If chicken you must have, then for God’s sake, do it with dignity. Take yourself to Le Pichet.