The talk of Seattle’s locally focused culinary scene

There are a few reasons why Thompson Seattle’s new restaurant, Conversation, has become the talk of Emerald City since its May 2019 opening. For starters, it’s positioned on the first floor of a hotel that comfortably sits between the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, making it an ideal respite for hungry travelers.

Two, the establishment takes a conscious stand against our obsession with burying our heads in cell phones. The name is what it is for a reason. And while dishes are certainly Instagram-worthy, the team hopes you converse about them before posting. The restaurant’s attempt at discussion-starting techniques — conversation-starter cards, with thought-inducing questions on them, can be found in the back of the menu — is smart, simple and almost excuse enough for a visit.

Third, the food is flavorful and inventive without trying too hard. The menu may include stuffed quail and chilled porchetta, but a couple having a quiet Monday lunch or a small group congregating before an epic Saturday night out won’t feel intimidated at Conversation. When it comes to an all-day eatery for everyone, this is what we’re talking about.

Our Inspector's Highlights

  • The concise but colorful menu is a glowing example of how a global outlook on cuisine can work in tandem with locally caught seafood and just-plucked vegetables.
  • While many of Conversation’s dishes are head-turning works of art, the crispy split pig head, arranged with ramps and kimchi apples, may be what guests a table over from you whisper about most.
  • The Seattle restaurant space feels lofty (see: concrete columns, floor-to-ceiling windows and garage doors) without being cold (thanks to brown leather chairs and retro light fixtures).
  • Staff members have a congenial attitude minus the clinginess. There’s a genuine urge to connect with the guest, but they don’t have a need to press if you’re giving every indication that you want some alone time with your Washington red wine.
  • The aforementioned conversation-starter cards are filled with thought-provoking questions like, “What is something that is popular now, but in five years people will be embarrassed of?” The table’s responses might amaze as much as the food.

Things to Know

  • When you approach the reception desk, you’ll see a mood-setting couch lounge. Stop in this quaint spot to enjoy a drink from the bar or pass the time before your table is ready.
  • Our most recent visit was on a Monday, but the dining room was still bustling. If you want to stop by on a Friday or Saturday, you’ll want to keep that in mind and plan ahead with reservations.
  • The one-page menu works down from smaller portions to bigger, family-style plates.
  • The dress code at Conversation is casual.

The Food

  • Plates are arranged as if they’re about to be in a magazine spread — even the appetizers. From the potato gnocchi to the duck breast and honey-glazed carrots, the hues, plating and taste here evoke such emotion.
  • The show-stopping presentation only ramps up with the main courses. Visually, the aforementioned pig’s head takes the top prize. But there’s something about the perfectly seared scallops and the short ribs that speak to how familiar dishes can be done with a Thompson twist.

The Bar

  • Food isn’t the only thing done with precision at Conversation. We can’t shout loud enough about the bar's fun and festive cocktail menu.
  • Try the Hotel National (a rum blend, pineapple, lime and orchard apricot) or Her Day (gin, vermouth, lemon, rhubarb and geneva) to see just how seriously the team takes its tipples.
  • If you’re not in the mood for a cocktail, the restaurant also offers an excellent roster of wine, including several local selections. We highly recommend Columbia Valley’s Wiseguy Sauvignon Blanc, especially if you’re going with fish or oysters for your meal.

Gluten-free options
Kid friendly
Reservations recommended
Valet parking
Vegetarian options
Getting There
110 Stewart Street, Seattle, Washington 98101
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