Seattle Restaurants in Inside Passage

I spent a long time thinking about how I would use restaurants in Inside Passage. Seattle is a great restaurant town – lots of fresh local produce, amazing seafood, and discerning local diners. In the book, Abe Stein, a psychiatrist and one of the protagonists, and Riley, a killer who is contracted to take out Abe and his lover, Corey Logan, are both Seattle restaurant aficionados. Though not quite so expert, Jesse Stein, Abe’s mother, and Nick Season, her candidate for State Attorney General and the man who put the contract out on Abe and Corey, also dine out often. So I decided to have fun with Seattle restaurants.

Early on, Nick and Jesse go to Wild Ginger, a downtown Asian-themed restaurant. This is a place that began more modestly and was so successful that it moved from a smaller space across form a parking lot to a grand two-story downtown space. This grandiose restaurant is where their romance begins.

We go next to the Fireside Lounge at the Sorrento Hotel, adjacent to the hotel restaurant. This iconic Seattle jewel has floor to ceiling Honduras-Mahogany paneling, and it’s the favorite spot of Abe Stein’s lawyer, Jason Weiss. Abe is seeing Jason to get help for Corey, who’s on the run. Jason cautions him, “Dealing with murderers is not what you do… This is not for you.” Abe doesn’t take his lawyer’s advice, and this high-end lounge clearly underscores the line that Abe has just crossed, the world he’s leaving behind.

The next restaurant we visit is Shucker’s, a classic seafood spot in the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. Riley is meeting Lester, Nick Season’s right hand man. Riley is squeezing lemon on his oysters when Lester arrives.” Kumamotos, Kushies,” Riley explains, as Lester thinks – “Riley talking food was just one more thing he didn’t give a shit about.” The sequence ends with Lester upending Riley’s silver platter of oysters onto Riley’s lap, the only show of emotion we’ll ever see from the monstrous Lester (the only man in the world Riley is afraid of) – and it‘s triggered by Riley’s oysters and the way he eats them.

Abe takes Corey to her first fine French restaurant as their relationship develops. It’s called Chez Henri in the book but it’s based on Campagne, which was closed when this book was published. Peter Lewis’ Seattle classic is where I took my daughter Emily for her first night out of fine dining, and where I celebrated my 50th birthday. This was the perfect place to underline the differences in their backgrounds and for Abe and Corey’s romance to progress.

We also visit El Gaucho, the speakeasy themed steak house frequented by athletes, lawyers, and out-of-town visitors; Canlis – a striking building with 180 degree views and a Seattle institution for birthdays, anniversaries, graduation celebrations, etc.; Bella, based on Scott Carsberg’s legendary restaurant Lampreia (closed at the time of publication), one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to in Seattle; Queen City Grill - a simple Belltown bar and restaurant and one of the most beautiful rooms in the city; and finally, in the epilogue, Tulio, an Italian gem in the Vintage Park Hotel –Riley is eating his dinner when Abe and Corey come in with Corey’s son Billy and his girlfriend, Morgan. The last lines of the book are: “How could he ever presume to kill people like that? People? Hell no. Immortals is what they were. On his way out, Riley bought them a drink.”


Inside Passage by Burt Weissbourd