November 10, 2008 by Doug Haugen
Artemis Café & Bar
757 Belleuve AVE E
Seattle, WA 98102
By Doug Haugen
It was a year before I knew Artemis existed in my neighborhood. When I found out from the recommendation of a friend (who lives nowhere near the place), I took a short walk to find it. Artemis set up camp on an end of Bellevue Avenue that no one has any reason to go to unless they live there or can’t find parking near Broadway. Until now.
Artemis Café & Bar is a destination for winos and foodies alike. Looking over the expansive wine list of nearly sixty bottles, it’s like hunting at the zoo. Artemis, the great Greek huntress, never had it so good. While only seventeen wines are offered by the glass, it’s not a problem, because you’re going to want to stay long enough to have a bottle, and then have a glass as a nightcap. You could even bring a friend and share it.
That’s what I did on my most recent visit. We started by sitting at the bar with a bottle of Corte Saint’Alda Valpolicella Superiore, which I think is Italian for “Really Good Wine.” The bartender loved this wine and recommended it, but he was new and didn’t know just how to describe it. So, he checked with Oscar (wine buyer and restaurant manager), who was in the house, and came back to give us a spot-on description of the wine. The head honchos at Artemis don’t hire pre-fab staff members with learned airs of superiority. They hire enthusiastic debutantes dedicated to the customer experience, and eager to learn about wine. And learn they do.
This visit just happened to fall on the night of the final presidential debate (“My friends, my friends…”), and the staff had the social responsibility to air it for their patrons. We were able squeeze into a table among the then-crowded dining area, and watch the debate sipping vino and mawing on French bread. It just may be that politics has a perfect pair.
The wine list includes wine from everywhere including California, Oregon, New Mexico, Italy, France, Portugal, Argentina, Spain, South Africa, Alsace, and of course Washington. The Washington wines come from the likes of Cavatappi, Bunnell Cellars, Nicholas Cole, and Gordon Brothers.
While I go for the wine, Artemis has an impressive menu, too, if you’re into that kind of thing. They diligently go over their list of daily specials when you sit down, which I patiently endure while I wait to start asking about the wine list. That buzzing in my ear does make me salivate a bit, and I’m sure someday I’ll actually get some grub at Artemis, but in the meantime, it’s all about the wine.