Restaurant Intervention: Le Caviste, Seattle

Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog.  

binNotes reprises ‘Restaurant Intervention’ for a cameo appearance by Le Caviste  in downtown Seattle. Luckily, no intervention required…

By L. M. Archer, FWS

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Need an authentic Parisian bistrot-à-vins fix? Alors! Look further than Le Caviste in downtown Seattle.

Le Caviste channels all the best features of that favorite little Parisian bistro you’ve secretly dreamed about revisiting someday – you know the one…tucked away in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower (or, in this case, The Space Needle…) with quaint chalk board menus offering up the daily plats du jour and wines by the glass, charming butcher-papered tables, and that inimitable French bonhomie.

Le Caviste has it all, including a truly Parisian-inspired wine list.

Let’s talk about the wine list. Both white and red lists feature affordable, everyday regional wines by the glass or bottle. Whenever possible, wines sourced reflect organic and sustainable vineyard practices.

Delightful finds include a blanc and rouge from  France’s Savoie, as well as those from the more familiar Loire, Rhone, Bordeaux, and Burgundy regions. In search of something a bit more complex? Look for a hidden gem or two premier crus tucked among the carte des vins, with uncharacteristically modest prestige pricing to match.

Generous plats du jour groan with locally sourced bread, eggs and mushrooms, charcuterie, artisan cheese, imported fish and  olives –  all designed to stave off hunger and mitigate excess wine intake.   On your way out, a sweet little retail section beckons with tasty little take-out bottles at ridiculous retail prices.

But before you exit,  check out owner and oenophile David Butler’s lovingly compiled list of best wine bistros in ParisIt’ll make you want to jump-start your return to the City of Lights someday…with a few stops at Le Caviste for inspiration!


Le Caviste on Urbanspoon

Le Caviste  | 1919 7th Avenue | Seattle, WA 98101 | 206.728.2657

4 to Midnight Tuesday through Saturday

Link here for more  binNotes Urbanspoon Restaurant  Interventions.


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Copyrighted 2012-2014. All images courtesy the author. All Rights Reserved.

Thank you:

David Butler, Owner – Le Caviste | Seattle

Restaurant Intervention SVU: Patina

Welcome to binNotes, a blog for those who consider wine an art, and not just a beverage.

It’s time for a special installment of binNotes Restaurant Intervention – SVU (Special Victim’s Unit) featuring: L.A.’s Patina Restaurant.

By L. M. Archer, FWS

Warning: Viewer Discretion Advised.

Image: L.M. Archer
Image: L.M. Archer

 I: Primi

When it was all over, and they’d cleared the crime scene, I realized I should have just ordered the vegetables. I would have avoided the whole bloody mess, literally.

But no. This is L.A. City of angels. City of demons. A city where everyone looks the part they’re paid to play. Including the wait staff of Patina, in the bowels of Frank Gehry’s Disney Museum. Bowels may not be an appropriate choice of words for the dinner table…maybe in the haunches of the Museum…no, that doesn’t sound quite right either…

Let me set the scene:

Enter Stage Right: Mr. and Mrs. binNotes in town on business, opting for a romantic pre-Valentine’s celebration at this concierge-recommended restaurant.

Enter Stage Left: Major Domo, oozing gravitas with well-honed pate, bespoke suit and James Joyce-ian attitude specs.  If he were a surgeon, I would trust him to operate on my major organs. As a Major Domo, I trust him with my palate. Implicitly. He will make cameo appearances at the beginning and end of our dining experience.

But this is L.A….where there are no small roles, only small actors. And not everyone can be a star. Enter the Head Waiter, a Major Domo in training – not quite bespoke enough yet to don the glasses, but trying hard in the fawning department. His role, we discover, is to appear at the service of each course and advise of the ingredients and preparation. For questions about wine, he defers to the Sommelier.

Enter Stage Left: The Sommelier, a delightful Frenchman from Toulouse with a refreshing candor about the wine list. We both commisterate over the jacked-up Burgundy prices, he dismisses my inquiries about a Crémant de Jura with a nod “no no no…Madam…it’s Chardonnay…not Blanc de Blanc…” and we settle on a domestic Pinot Noir.

The supporting staff of water pourers and hand-crafted bread servers appear and disappear in a hush. All seems well in the wonderful world of the Disney Museum…but that’s about to change.

Image: L.M. Archer
Image: L.M. Archer

II. Secondi

Yes. I should have stayed with the vegetables. Root vegetables, to be exact. Individually roasted, so as not to contaminate the other vegetables with their essential flavors. Then those essential flavors combined into a lovely vegetable jus with lemon daubs. But the siren song of the well-cast staff lulls me into thinking that vegetables are not enough.

“And for the second course, Madam?”  ‘Well, I’m not really that hungry‘, I think,  ‘but since you’re staring at me through your James Joycian eyeglasses and I really don’t want to fill up on these delicious hand-made olive demi-baguettes and the unsalted artisanal butter, I guess I’ll go with a protein’. The only protein I can eat. Seafood.

“Very good, madam.”  For these prices, it better be.

III. Fini


Waiting for our proteins to arrive allows us time to scan the mise en scène.  Rich curtain-carved  wooden panels adorn the non-banqueted walls, while muted lighting softens the shell-shaped cream ceiling.  It’s not surprising that the restaurant resembles a theatre-in-the-round, with booths surrounding a bevy of two -and four-top tables in the center. This is, after all,  L.A., where everyone’s always ready for their close-up. Nor is it surprising that the wait staff seat out-of-towners at the center tables, for the amusement of booth-sitting regulars. Regulars like the ‘movie executive’ and ‘aspiring actress’ seated nearest our table, oozing subtext and typecasting…but I digress…proteins now served.

Enter Head Waiter. “And how is Madam enjoying her meal?”

“Uhmm…it’s…it doesn’t taste like what I ordered…” I say, i.e.,: ‘Like, not at all. It tastes like it hasn’t finished unthawing from its holding tank in the back of the walk-in freezer where its been hibernating since being plucked from antibiotic-infested farmed waters light years away.’ In truth, no amount of Cialis can possibly revive the flaccid crustacean laying limp on my plate.

“It’s poached, Madam…in port and white wine sauce…”  he says, i.e.,  ‘What do you know about fine seafood, you frazzle-haired, one-size-fits-all synthetic, wrinkle-free, all black garbed out-of-towner? Really?’

“Oh…” I say, i.e.,  ‘Really. Really? Do I really have to get nasty with this guy in front of all these super sincere, hard-working support staffers worried about keeping their jobs and making sure their kids make it on The Dream Act?‘  No. Life’s too short.  And the vegetables -and wine – were great.

Finale:  Head Waiter and the Major Domo remain conspicuously absent for the remainder of the meal, as the support staff clear the crime scene and leaves us to ponder our experience.

“My meat sucked,” Mr. binNotes advises as we carried the remnants home to our loyal mascot, Lucca.

Two proteins massacred in one evening. And the perpetrators still on the streets of L.A., ready to strike again.

Yet another unresolved case in the culinary criminal justice system.

Patina on Urbanspoon

Copyrighted 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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Welcome to binNotes, a blog for those who consider wine and art, and not just a beverage.


Ok, so maybe some of you missed Steve Heimoff’s recent musings on the 100-point system. It’s understandable. You’ve been glued to Season 3 of Downton Abbey, jonesing for Game of Thrones to begin.

Let’s just say the wine industry appears a bit disillusioned with the 100-point rating system.

Not new. But news. Because more people are saying it instead of thinking it.

However, long before Robert Parker’s sale/non-sale/misunderstanding of and about  The Wine Advocate, one winery took on the 100-point system, like David took on Goliath.

And continues today.

The winery?  Hedges Family Estates of Washington State’s Red Mountain AVA.

The movement? The ScoREVOLuTion.

The premise? Judge wine on bottle content,  not an arbitrary score. Pretty simple.

Learn more at: ScoREVOLuTion…Santé!

Copyrighted 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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You Might be a Wine Geek if…

Welcome to binNotes, a blog for those who consider wine an art, not just a beverage.

Today’s quiz tests your inner Wine Geek, while poking fun at the pretentious side of wine.

If you answered:

All of the above.
You are: A Wine Geek. Congratulations. Dork.

If you answered:
 Some of the above.
You areA Wine Expert. Get over yourself.

If you answered:
3. None of the above.
You are: Hopeless. Nice try.

Thanks for playing – check back next week for another version of binNotes Wine Quiz.
Copyrighted 2013. All rights reserved.


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#TGIF Winers!


Enjoy the weekend~Cheers!