Do you know which Seattle restaurant I might be talking about? Although Seattle seems smitten with poke these days and new trendy restaurants are popping up daily, I love a Seattle restaurant that’s been cooking awhile. And we’ve eaten so many great meals at Ivar’s Salmon House in South Lake Union that I thought this was where the Ivar’s chain began, but I couldn’t believe that I’ve never been into the original Ivar’s Acres of Clams on Pier 54 until I was invited by the Seattle Downtown Association to check it out. Maybe it’s because we always go for the fish and chips bar that we never realized there was an actual restaurant through the big doors next door to where we grab food, dodge seagulls and devour our meal. But whatever the case, I had a really lovely meal here with my guys and it made me want to know about Ivar’s and Seattle and how a fish and chips chain I see in malls all over the area actually got started in the first place.
Ivar’s might be one of Seattle’s oldest restaurants. I’m not sure how many restaurants here have been around longer than 1946. I also didn’t know that Ivar Haglund who created the restaurant was a folksinger who also owned Seattle’s first aquarium and the iconic Smith Tower that is such an integral part of the Seattle skyline. I read Ivar’s “Our Story” section on the restaurant’s site and I also enjoyed this other piece that referenced “A Great Syrup Spill” too. This is the type of history that makes a restaurant so much more than just a place to eat. It makes it like visiting a museum or a little key to the heart of the city and sometimes we leave these places to tourists, but as a Seattleite I felt so proud to visit and learn a little bit more of the history that is becoming more and more my own.
I went during the holidays so Ivar’s Acres of Clams was delightfully festive and I wish I had more time to stop and look at the photos and memorabilia throughout the restaurant. We had a gorgeous window seat and the kids had fun watching the ferries drift by. We saw the West Seattle ferry and it reminded us we haven’t been to Alki Beach in way too long. We counted cars as they zoomed onto the ferry to Bainbridge Island and we chatted about our summer bike trips and talked about where we wanted to bike together this summer.
The kids’ meals had good-sized portions and were reasonably priced. I love when kids have options like grilled salmon on their plates and I am even more happy when their food comes with vegetables. I enjoyed my salmon too, and even more so because of the beautiful atmosphere and the way my kids felt content to sit and eat good food and watch ferries with me. This was surely a meal I’ll remember for a while and I like that we all felt like we experienced a little Seattle history while we enjoyed some yummy food.
(PS. I was a guest of Ivar’s Restaurant and Seattle Downtown Association when I visited, and as always the opinions in this post and on my blog are my own.)
(PPS. If you have time before or after your meal remember that Pier 54 has a spectacular view of Seattle’s Waterfront and save some time for pictures. You can also stop at Ye Olde Curiousity Shop, a store founded in 1899 while you are there to make it even more of a historical Seattle experience.)