When I think of a museum cafe, I think of pre-wrapped sandwiches and dry pastries (I guess I’ve had some bad experiences in the past). That’s exactly what I assumed Collections Cafe was like. The restaurant is attached to Chihuly Garden and Glass, so I just figured it was another stale spot for exhibition goers. I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the food to the collections inside, there’s so much more to Collections Cafe.
In case you don’t know, Chihuly Garden and Glass shares the work of Northwest artist Dale Chihuly. The exhibition showcases glass sculptures from every phase of his distinguished career. Believe it or not, Collections Cafe gives us a glimpse into Chihuly’s life and work as well. Every item on the menu takes inspiration from Chihuly’s travels and adds a Northwest twist.
Collections Cafe “celebrates what is fresh and local,” getting ingredients from a “carefully selected group of dedicated ranchers, fishermen, foragers and farmers.” There are permanent fixtures on the menu, but the choices also change with the season. Tove and I were there for a special event, so we had a chance to try several different small bites. We ate seared scallops, grilled hanger steak, Jidori chicken, and fried oysters (our personal favorite).
As for full meals at Collections Cafe, they serve anything from Goat Cheese Gnocchi (with spring peas, oil-cured tomatoes, pea shoot salad, and hazelnut vinaigrette) to the Pressed Pork Sandwich on Macrina Ciabatta (with apple butter and spicy cider vinegar slaw). We were told that Dale Chihuly visits the Collections Cafe often and always orders The Burger (red onion jam, bacon, Beecher’s Marco Polo cheese, and Peppadew aioli), so it’s safe to assume that’s his personal favorite.
On top of tasty food, Collections Cafe also offers several local craft beers, a 36-bottle Northwest wine list, and even ice cream floats. You can get a regular root beer float (made with Snoqualmie vanilla bean ice cream) and/or a Kentucky Coke float (Kentucky bourbon ice cream and Coca-Cola). There are also several different types of lemonade at Collections Cafe, like Honey Cucumber Lemonade and Strawberry Lavender Lemonade.
The food and drinks are only a portion of what makes Collections Cafe special — the “art” is the other part. From accordions hanging from the ceiling to glass dolls on the wall, there are nearly 30 different collections (hence the name). Every collection actually belongs to Dale Chihuly himself, and he personally placed each item in the restaurant. As it was explained to us, he sees each collection and the way he decorated it as a piece of art. No one is left out, because every single table has “artwork” set inside (whether it’s old transistor radios, doll house furniture, vintage Christmas ornaments, etc.).
From delicious eats to interesting collections, there’s more than enough to keep your senses busy at Collections Cafe. If you couldn’t tell, I was pleasantly surprised. Don’t let your stereotypes stand in the way (like mine did); Collections Cafe is a museum restaurant that’s actually worth visiting.
Have you ever visited Collections Cafe? What did you think of the food? How about the collections? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Don’t forget to also check out Seattle Bloggers for more fun places to eat around the Emerald City!