Four years ago today, I arrived in Seattle on a plane coming from Albuquerque amidst a torrential rain. Naturally, the fact that it was raining in Seattle on a cold November night wasn’t remarkable in itself, but this particular rain storm was the beginning of major flooding across the whole area followed quickly by massive wind storms, leaving many without power for weeks. It was the worst November in many years and that’s no small feat given it already has a well earned reputation for being the worst weather month in the Pacific Northwest. I didn’t mind the rain or the wind, though. I wasn’t coming to Seattle for the weather. Fast forward four years and the weather looks a bit different. Yesterday, Seattle set a record high temperature of 73 degrees under a cloudless sky. We hear we’re in for a cold, snowy winter and I admit I’m not at all bothered by that prospect. Aside from a few typical November days, though, we haven’t seen any inklings of it yet.
B and I are very, very good at finding reasons to celebrate. Really, it gets a bit silly sometimes, but it makes us happy. When my cousin, AJ, was very small, he never let us start us a meal without first raising our glasses and toasting. He always made the same toast “Cheers to six” because his birthday is on July 6th. No matter the occasion or lack thereof, it was always “Cheers to six!” B and I take a page out of AJ’s book and find any reason we can for a celebration. It always includes a toast. Tonight we celebrated not only surviving very small shared spaces over the last four years, but being happier each day than the one before. We took our celebration to one of our newest favorite places, The Book Bindery.
When I started writing Thursday Night Bites, I decided not to write about the same place more than once unless something major changed. For that reason, I won’t go into detail about the restaurant itself. I will say that it’s still incredible. You can read my first impressions here if you’re curious, though. I would be severely remiss if I didn’t share at least a couple photos of the beautiful space and the new dishes we tried and loved. There were more worth sharing, but it was dark and I was hungry.
Book Bindery has an interesting set up in that they have an open kitchen, but unless you go to the restroom, you’re unlikely to see it. Open kitchens are increasingly popular. As I’ve become more interested in restaurant culture, they’ve become quite intriguing to me. We stuck our heads into the kitchen to say hi to Jon on our last visit to Book Bindery and I admit, I was a bit overwhelmed. The whole production of a large kitchen (and a small kitchen too, I’m sure) is just amazing. It’s like watching the inner workings of a clock at fifty times the speed. I imagine watching a poorly run kitchen is an entirely different story, but in the 10 seconds I stood there, I was a bit stunned. It is truly impressive. Lecosho is another example of a beautiful open kitchen. Though theirs isn’t quite as open as Book Bindery’s, you can still see enough to be thoroughly amazed by the 8,000 different tasks and processes happening concurrently to deliver the incredible food that eventually finds its way onto the diners’ tables.
I’ll admit it. Still in my nascent phase of understanding how restaurants work, I am apt to make some pretty silly connections, but I am reminded of this particular scene in Disney, Pixar’s Ratatouille when Colette explains to Linguini how their kitchen works.
I’ve said it before, but I was lucky enough to grow up with a mother who is an amazing cook. Watching her in the kitchen formed my complete perception of cooking and the inner workings of a kitchen. Though, as I got older, I realized this isn’t how it works in a well run restaurant kitchen, I still didn’t have any basis to learn the reality. Open kitchens are one way I get just a tiny glimpse and can hope to understand a little more. It’s a sight to behold. I highly recommend that anyone who hasn’t, seek out the opportunity to just stand back and be amazed at how the magic happens.