Volunteer Park Café – Capitol Hill, Seattle
Summer is finally here in Seattle! We celebrate the long days of glorious sunshine by being outdoors from dawn to dusk on weekends, the city thriving with activities. There are festivals day and night, and restaurants have oiled the decks, hosed the patios and swept the courtyards for al fresco dining.
I love city parks, urban oases of fresh air, mowed lawns and pruned trees. Volunteer Park in Capitol Hill is a compact version of this. At its heart is the Seattle Asian Art Museum and at the top edge is the Volunteer Park Conservatory. We strolled through the serene greens to Volunteer Park Café for lunch.
I had sampled chef Erika Burke’s fare at Keren’s book launch party and Foodportunity, and was curious about the controversial eatery. Located a couple of blocks east of the park on a leafy street, Volunteer Park Café is in a century old building. Rusty azure chairs contrasted with the creamy yellow timber.
There are three sets of tables and chairs on the sidewalk, the one in the blazing sun is conspicuously vacant.
A blackboard easel listed daily specials.
Breakfast and lunch items were listed on three walled blackboards. Staff were frantically assembling sandwiches as we queued to order.
Discs of golden cookies in tin buckets, their flavours stamped on placards, were visual lures.
The centrepiece of the cosy space is the communal table. We pirouetted to sit by the window. It was a warm day, and the enclosed room was sweltering and amplified the cacophony of the crowd.
Layers of pastrami and caraway sauerkraut were accessorised with Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing. The thick rye bread was gently toasted. It was a moist and tender café Rueben, the tangy fermented cabbage moderated the savoury meat.
Steadied by a bamboo toothpick, the prosciutto and mozzarella baguette was a chewy delight. Peppery arugula, sweet fig balsamic, buttery prosciutto and milky mozzarella were a splendid combination.
We exited quickly and took our parcel of chocolate chip cookie and cinnamon swirl coffee cake back to the park, and shared dessert in quiet contentment.