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Postcard From Tom: Seattle

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema's monthly report from the road.

The buzz in Seattle these days revolves around a crush of new wine bars, spinoffs of established hot spots and longtime favorites getting upgrades. The evidence, please:

BRICCO DELLA REGINA ANNA (1525 Queen Anne Ave. N., 206-285-4900)

Weighing in with only 30 or so seats, Bricco aspires to play the part of a genuine Italian enoteca. Adding to the pleasure are building blocks from the area's best purveyors, including bread from the soulful Macrina Bakery in Belltown and cured meats from the tiny Salumi (star chef Mario Batali's pop's place in Pioneer Square). Yes, there are entrees, but our preference is to graze the night away with some of the dozens of cheeses, charcuterie and a glass or more of something grape from the Pacific Northwest or Italy. Entrees $13-$18.

CAFE PRESSE (1117 12th Ave., 206-709-7674)

Chef Jim Drohman's inspiration for this coffee-perfumed, brick-and-steel retreat in South Capitol Hill comes from the time he lived in a studio in Paris and used the bar across the street as his "adjunct living room." At Presse, magazines from around the world, televised soccer matches and oh-so-French staples -- baguettes slathered with chocolate, steak tartare, roast chicken -- bid for visitors' time. No appetite is left out at this sibling to downtown's Le Pichet. While I indulged in a rosy hanger steak with hand-cut fries, my vegetarian companion munched on crisp falafel with dilled yogurt. Sandwiches and entrees $5-$16.

MATT'S IN THE MARKET (94 Pike St., 206-467-7909)

There really is a Matt at Matt's (co-owner Matt Janke), along with a four-star view from the windows of his newly expanded eatery in Pike Place Market. Go early to avoid the crowds, and grab a counter seat if you like to watch your meal created before your eyes. The temptations in this venerable mecca include a world-class lamb burger, Surf & Surf (scallops and prawns), wild salmon with a citrus vinaigrette, and a dense chocolate pot de creme. Dinner entrees $24-$32.

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