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Enjoy Collections Cafe in Seattle's Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum
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.