Friday, July 8, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Dining Deals

Ferry wait goes down a little smoother at cafe

Special to The Seattle Times

Commuter Comforts Caf & Wine Bar

Colman Ferry Dock Terminal at Pier 52, 801 Alaskan Way, Seattle; 206-624-7483

Noshes and wine


Hours: 8:30 a.m.-12:15 a.m.

Mondays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-12:15 a.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays.

Wine and beer / credit cards: AE, D, MC, V / smoking outside only / no obstacles to access.

Rating: recommended.

Lost amid the huzzahs for Sea-Tac's new restaurant-a-palooza has been the year's other big headline in transportation dining: the more diminutive food court at the Colman Ferry Dock. Chances are you'll bring a visitor or two through this port sometime this summer, to or from Bainbridge or Bremerton, so you really ought to know which of the new cafes to take them to. Will it be Matt's Famous Hot Dogs or World Wrapps? Alaska Gourmet Subs or ... the candy store?

Look no further than Commuter Comforts Café & Wine Bar, the only one with table service and grown-up drinks (wine and beer). Zestfully designed with plenty of windows to spare everyone the dismal evocations of an airport bar, the CCC & WB makes a cozy perching spot after missing the ferry, either at the bar, one of the glass-topped tables or a seat outside.

The menu is thoughtfully constructed with $5ish-$8ish noshes you really want to eat. Choose from baguette sandwiches on good La Panzanella bread, a half-dozen or so salads, a few panini, a few pizzete, and a few little-of-this, little-of-that bistro plates. Besides La Panzanella, other terrific Northwest artisan brands are featured, revealing a clear bias toward quality: Bruce Gore smoked salmon; Pike Place Chowder's justifiably award-winning clam chowder; Port Madison goat cheese; Whidbey Island Pies' luscious marionberry pie. The turkey salad even makes use of local culinary luminary Jerilyn Brusseau's knockout tarragon turkey recipe.

Cranky kids eying the vending machines are also well served, with a "My Kid Will Eat This" salad ($2.95, for a ranch-dressing toss) and a "My Kid Will Eat This" sandwich ($3.95 for good old grilled cheese and baby carrots).

Service could use a spanking, after leaving me high-and-dry without water through much of my meal — or much attention on either side of it. To be fair, she was a mite overtaxed in this place, which is simultaneously a pastry-and-coffee takeout counter, wine bar and full-service restaurant.

Check please:

Spicy chicken rice soup: Achieving that high-wire act of being spicy and bland at the same time, this soup was a conundrum. The problem, I concluded, was too little depth or richness to balance out the shrill seasoning. Much too watery.

"Brusseau's Famous Turkey Salad": If memory serves, Gretchen Mathers (of the venerable Gretchen's Of Course) pioneered her tarragon chicken salad even before Jerilyn Brusseau debuted hers in Edmonds — but that's neither here nor there when you taste this delectably creamy version, studded with celery and red onions and hazelnuts and big chunks of moist turkey. Served with panache on a lettuce leaf alongside crudités and bread.

Salami panini: Very good wine-cured salami appeared in perfect proportion with provolone, fresh spinach leaves and a schmear of Cibo Naturals lemon artichoke pesto. The flavors did one another all kinds of favors, on a panini that was grilled just right.

Whidbey Island Pies marionberry pie (slice): I would kill to be able to make a crust this short — it melts if you glance at it too long — but I'm guessing this estimable pie company aims to keep its secrets to itself. Lattice-crusted pies never look as tidy sliced, but that's a small quibble in light of its overall success. It arrived ill-advisedly dusted with cinnamon and decorated with a jaunty sprig of ... basil? (Huh?)

Itemized bill, meal for two

Spicy chicken rice soup $3.50

"Brusseau's Famous Turkey Salad" $5.95

Salami panini $5.95

Whidbey Island Pies marionberry pie (slice) $3.45

Tax $1.65

Total $20.50

Kathryn Robinson:

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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