September 15, 2023

Portland to Seattle: From Cozy Diner to Fine Dining

We make our way to Seattle, with a side trip to Cannon Beach.

It’s the fourth day of our trip. It’s a travel day as we need to make our way up to Seattle. We packed up all of our things as we prepared to check out of our hotel.

As we were checking out, the front desk told us that one of the baristas from the coffee shop in the lobby was doing a coffee pop-up in the hotel to promote his own roasting company. We decided to check it out since we were going to look for coffee anyway.

Cup of Joe coffee sticker Sticker from the coffee pop-up

The company is called Cup of Joe Coffee Roasting. Jess and I chatted with the owner, Joe, for a bit and we each tried a cup of drip coffee and it was pretty good.

Yesterday, when we were driving to Mekha for breakfast, we had drove past a random diner called Cameo Pancake & Steak that Jess spontaneously reacted to on first-sight saying that she felt like it had “good vibes.” It was next to a motel also with the name “Cameo” that it seemed attached to.

Cameo Pancake & Steak Cameo Pancake & Steak

We figured that we stop in for breakfast just to try something random, small and local. We also love going to diners.

As we walked in it looked like we were in someones house. There was flowery wallpaper, carpet, wooden dining tables and a long seated bar area. When we took a look at the menu, to our surprise there were items that included kimchi and bulgogi. Little did we know the diner was Korean-run!

Breakfast with a side of kimchi Our breakfast with a side of kimchi

We had to get a side of kimchi with our breakfast.

We noticed the owner was in the diner walking around and chatting with people. She had a presence and wore very fashionable clothes. We were just a bit too shy to say hi.

As we were paying our bill, Jess spoke to the woman behind the counter. She told us that she was from New York too and that she moved to Portland 30 years ago. She said besides the rain she was enjoying living in Portland.

I knew we couldn’t leave Oregon without at least seeing the Oregon Coast. So we decided to drive west to Cannon Beach then head up to Seattle from there.

We were a little limited on time since we had a dinner reservation in Seattle at 6PM and the total trip from where we were would take us 5.5hrs. That would leave us with about an hour to relax and take in the scenery.

Haystack Rock Jess walking in front of Haystack Rock

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. It was sunny with a nice breeze when we pulled into the Cannon Beach parking lot. We walked onto the beach and along the water passing in front Haystack Rock.

Random watermelon at Cannon Beach Random smashed watermelon on the beach

It was Jess’ first time and didn’t know what to expect. We wished we could have set aside a whole day to just set up some chairs and sit at the beach all day. Unfortunately we had to hurry on up to Seattle.

Walking along Cannon Beach

Next time.

We got back into the car and started making lour way north. We wanted to drive up to a town called Astoria, which Erik and Krys (from yesterday) told us was an interesting town to take a look at. However, we ended up getting stuck in some traffic on the road that took us there and it did not move for about 15 minutes. There was an alternate route we could take that Google Maps recommended that could get us past whatever was happening up the road, but itw as an entirely different route that didn’t go through Astoria.

Another place we’ll need to save for next time.

From there we went straight to Seattle. We began seeing the skyline at around 5:30PM, just barely arriving for our 6:00PM reservation in time. Before getting to the restaurant we pulled over into a small neighborhood road and decided to change into nicer date attire in the car.

Our reservation was for a restaurant called Surrell. Jess had discovered Surrell through an Eater list of places to try in Seattle. It seemed like a pretty unique experience, but pretty expensive. I decided to check to see if it was bookable through Chase Dining in the reward portal, and it was! I was able to pay for the entire bill with points, keeping our trip affordable.

Surrell Seattle Surrell in Seattle

When we walked up to the front there was a waiter at the front door behind a podium, we checked in with him and he offered us mulled wine or kombucha that we could sip on until they were ready.

When our seats were ready they let us in. We had reserved seats at the Chef’s Counter, which was the bar seating in front of the kitchen where you could watch the Chef prepare every single course.

Surrell flowers and a poem Greeted with flowers and a poem

They handed us a poem and a small bouquet of flowers, which came from the Chef’s mother’s garden.

Surrell menu The menu for the evening

We had a full 9-course tasing menu which had 11 different plates of food (some courses had multiple plates). After serving each course they explained what was in each dish. Almost every plate had something that was locally sourced from the region.

Surrell food Only some of the dishes we were served

If I had to choose a favorite dish, I would say it was the Marinated Summer Melons with the chevre in it. It’s a sleeper hit and I may have been in a goat cheese mood, but the flavors just hit all the right notes for me. After that, I’d say it was the Bay Leaf Braised Octopus. It was the most tender octopus I’ve ever had.

As for most interesting dish, they made what tasted like a potato croquette into a cigar and served it to us by opening it up in a book that had smoke flow out of it. Of course I had to pretend to smoke it like a cigar.

James with the Surrell potato cigar Smoking the cigar-shaped potato croquette

For drinks I was ordering white wine by the glass and they offered Jess some interesting complimentary mocktails. Everything was so creative and delicious.

After dinner we made our way to Bellevue, a city across the lake from Seattle. This is where we would be staying with our friends Julie and Peter for our next 5 days.

This post is part of a series from my Pacific Northwest 2023 Trip. See the other posts from this series below:

Day 1 — Portland: Settling into Downtown with Food
Day 2 — Portland: Riding Bicycles Around the City
Day 3 — Portland: Columbia River, Mount Hood and Estacada
Day 4 — Portland to Seattle: From Cozy Diner to Fine Dining
Day 5 — Seattle: Rest Day in Bellevue
Day 6 — Seattle: Being Tourists in Downtown
Day 7 — Seattle: Rattlesnake Ledge and Ballard Locks
Day 8 — Seattle: Hiking in Mount Rainier National Park
Day 9 — Seattle to Vancouver: Thrifting and Noms
Day 10 — Vancouver: Riding Around Stanley Park
Day 11 — Vancouver: Exploring Gastown, Good & Bad
Day 12 — Vancouver to Portland: The Farewell Tour

Leave a Comment