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Enjoy Collections Cafe in Seattle's Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum
This article was originally published in Seattle Weekly and was written by Hanna Raskin.
The last decade has been extraordinary kind to hungry museum-goers, who long had the choice between hamburgers and hot dogs if they didn't want to eat off-campus. Museums are now curating their cafes with the same seriousness they'd apply to a blockbuster exhibition, well-aware that the right restaurant has similar cash-generating potential. This week, Voracious is visiting Seattle's newest museum eateries.
Restaurant: Collections Cafe
Museum: Chihuly Garden and Glass
Dining format: Sit-down
Interpretation of the classic museum burger: Topped with bacon, Beecher's Marco Polo, peppadew aioli, red onion jam, $15
What screams museum: The restaurant is decorated with selections from Dale Chihuly's personal collections of juicers, dollhouse furniture, bottle openers and shaving brushes. Each guest receives a a glossy palm-sized guide to the items on exhibit.
My mother recently mentioned that Collections Cafe led the restaurant wish list of a Seattle-bound friend, which really surprised me. Most visitors structure their dining itineraries around salmon, spectacular views or James Beard award nominations, none of which would naturally lead to a restaurant connected to the new Dale Chihuly exhibit space at Seattle Center. But a single lunchtime visit to Collections Cafe made me retract my skepticism: The restaurant is an excellent choice for visitors and locals.
For eaters like me, who can't afford a $19 ticket to the Chihuly exhibition, the restaurant and its gorgeous, chromatic dishes hint at the aesthetic sense celebrated within the museum's walls. The cafe has a lovely patio that's an ideal setting for sipping a Washington Riesling and trading big ideas about art, but the solace for a not-so-sunny day is the long, spruce plank-walled dining room, with accordions jangling from the ceiling and three-dozen back-lit Chihuly drawings along the back wall.