Title: A taste of Seattle's dining past
Author: Karen Gaudette
Publisher: The Seattle Times
The black-and-white photos show waiters dressed as Roman soldiers, Polynesian maidens and farmers' daughters. Hats and gloves were a must. Menus boasted about charcoal broilers and honey from the sky.
Flipping the pages of "Seattle's Historic Restaurants," a collection of memorabilia from local restaurants, watering holes and coffeehouses, is time travel at its tastiest. Duvall-based author Robin Shannon made a point to include menus from local icon Frederick & Nelson's restaurants and tea room, snapshots from her beloved Green Apple Pie Shop and a winsome ad from The Dog House restaurant and cocktail lounge, among scads of other grin-inducing finds.
We caught up by phone with Shannon, fresh from Thanksgiving in Cancun.
Q: So how did you come across all these old menus?
A: I've been collecting them for years. As soon as I realized I was going to do this book, I put alerts on eBay with 75 restaurants I was interested in, and as soon as something came up, I was bidding on a menu. Sometimes I was outbid; it was $75 for some. Some menus you can pick up for like $10. ... I love looking at the different menus and seeing how they're put together. I prefer the menus without the pictures, the ones that have description.
Q: Which restaurant seems to be the most unchanged?
A: The Homestead, in my opinion, is the most unchanged, on Alki. To me, even the menu hasn't changed. I think it needs to be updated. XXX Rootbeer, too, in Issaquah.
Q: Do you remember any of these spots from your childhood?
A: My dad used to go to Andy's Diner [in Sodo]. My dad was a supervisor at Texaco on Harbor Island, and when people came from out of town, [Mom and Dad] would take them to El Gaucho.
Q: Is there a greasy spoon you'd resurrect?
A: Clark's Twin T-Ps, the one on Aurora. It was a cool place to stop and just go have breakfast, lunch or dinner, and bring in friends who were coming in from out of town. It served family meals at a reasonable price.
Q: Is there something about Seattle dining that stands out?
A: I'd say probably with the Clark's restaurants [which included the Twin T-Ps, Clark's Crabapple in Bellevue and Seattle's Dublin House] coming to town and him opening up so many restaurants with their exceptional service, I think that that brought all of our other restaurants up to give exceptional service, too. Otherwise they weren't going to keep their clientele. Also, restaurants make the most of our views. We have the Space Needle, Salish Lodge, Paradise at Mount Rainier, Canlis.
Q: Which restaurants have stuck it out the longest?
A: El Gaucho has just outlasted everything, and they just opened another one in Bellevue. Another one in Pioneer Square that's been around forever is the Merchants Cafe. It's been serving almost continuously since 1890.