Tilikum Place Cafe

Written by on October 3, 2013 in I Eat Seattle, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(tilikumplacecafe.com) – Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, Washington

Tilikum Place Cafe

How I heard of this place: Several years ago, a foodie friend of mine suggested the Tilikum Place Cafe as a place to chat over a delicious meal at a new establishment he had been wanting to try. I was game. I have never regretted accepting that invitation.

Tilikum Place Cafe Menu

Type of cuisine:  “Tilikum Place Café near Seattle Center is an inviting spot where a European vibe meets a vibrant contemporary American menu that segues smoothly from baked beans and Dutch babies to house-made pastas, savory tarts and chicken with dumplings.”

Tilikum Place Cafe Kitchen

Chef Ba Culbert’s savory appetizer tarts are rich with bacon and fine Gruyere, and meltingly crusted; her celeriac soup a fathomless marvel topped with smoky paprika and caramelized pear. Dinners are comforting affairs-perhaps a moist, charry pork chop with polenta cake and greens and grilled figs; or, the headliner, an ethereal, smoky pan-seared chicken paprikash. Everything, including the long, luscious list of housemade desserts, tastes more careful and authentic than it ought to at prices this low. A treasure.”

Ambiance: Reviews on the Tilikum Place Cafe share better than I of the quaint and welcoming feel of this Belltown cafe: “Nestled on a tree-lined street under Seattle’s Space Needle, Chef Ba Culbert has cooked up something unique a place that makes you feel warm and cozy inside and out.”

Tilikum Place Cafe Window Seating

Picture a welcoming European café with American comfort and you have the Tilikum Place Café. Named after the Chinook word for “welome,” Tilikum lives up to its name. Chef/Owner Ba Culbert serves up savory and sweet delicacies that are sure to warm your soul and put a smile on your face.”

Tilikum Place Cafe Bar

Big windows open onto Cedar Street, letting in whatever sun the forecast allows. No matter the weather, the interior has a welcoming vibe, from the bookshelves displaying an eclectic mix of wine bottles, glassware, and vases to thoughtful touches like the bite-size cookies that accompany French-press coffee.

Tilikum Place Cafe Entry

“If it weren’t for the statue of Chief Seattle out the window-and a certain oversize Needle-you’d swear that was the leafy West Village out the window. But you’re in the cozy brick-walled boite known as Tilikum Place Café whose lived-in ease not only makes Belltown feel like a neighborhood, it leaves you quite unprepared for the exacting food.”

Tilikum Place Cafe Tablescape

What I ordered: To start, my husband and I shared the Parmesan & Kale soup with a Parmesan tuile ($5 cup)

Tilikum Place Cafe Kale & Parmesan Soup

and the Savory Tart ($10) made with baby heirloom tomatoes, ricotta, pesto and toasted pine nuts.

Tilikum Place Cafe Savory Tart

Our dining companions shared the Heirloom Tomato Salad ($10) with cured olives, mozzarella mousse, and watercress tossed in a fennel-marjoram vinaigrette.

Tilikum Place Cafe Heirloom Tomato Salad

For our main entrees, I selected the evening special: Alaskan Halibut ($30) with farro risotto and fall vegetable.

Tilikum Place Cafe Halibut

Our good friend selected the local Pork Tenderloin ($23) served over creamed corn, bacon, grilled pea vines, and shiitake mushrooms.

Tilikum Place Cafe Pork Tenderloin

The two men selected the Painted Hills Hangar Steak ($28 each) served with grilled zucchini, chimmichurri sauce, charred tomatoes and a mohawk of crispy potatoes.

Tilikum Place Cafe Hangar Steak

Course after course of delicious food, we simply could not pass on dessert. The couples each shared one serving of the Profiteroles ($8) stuffed with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of coconut caramel sauce,

Tilikum Place Cafe Profiteroles

and the Blackberry and Blueberry Crisp ($8) with the beautiful taste of rose sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tilikum Place Cafe Cobbler

What I loved: The salads were the highlight of the meal for me on this double date. The perfectly prepared, light and flaky, yet moist and satisfying halibut stealing the show, with the pork tenderloin and hangar steak coming up very close behind. The desserts were ample enough to satisfy our sweet craving at the end of the meal, without overly consuming us. Each dish, each course, each item on the menu is a creative show of culinary genius.

Why I loved it: A simple and heartwarming space, elegant yet informal, cozy and romantic, suitable for dining in pairs or small groups and a changing menu that keeps one coming back for more.

Cost: Average to high ($20 – $30 per dinner entree)

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