2000 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
On our 42nd wedding anniversary, my beloved pusher and I decided to check out Lola for breakfast. My older daughter and her miracle of a husband have breakfast or lunch at Lola when there’s even the slightest reason for a celebration, such as: “It’s Saturday and we’re up before 10!! LOLA!!” or “It’s Saturday and we slept in past 10!! LOLA!!” They are such fans that they lovingly checked out every wheelchair detail and urged us to try it out, telling us which table to request when we called to make a reservation and which door to enter.
How good was Lola? The truth is that I could not get a photo of the full plate of warm, made-when-you-order-them doughnuts (accompanied by a sinful vanilla mascarpone spread and blackberry jam) because we had scarfed all but one of those doughnuts down before I could get my phone out of my pocket. Our eggs benedict breakfasts were delicious—his with a steep pile of ham and mine with a bed of ripe cherry tomatoes and snappy arugula under the perfectly poached eggs and rich hollandaise sauce. And those potatoes! Little creamers boiled, smashed, and then fried—utterly amazing. On top of that, our server was kind and attentive. We were grateful to have this sweet celebration with only the tiniest of access issues.
Continue reading Lola
800 Occidental Ave S. Ste 100
Seattle, WA 98134
How do you separate a field from its teams or its fans? We went to CenturyLink Field to see Major League Soccer—the Seattle Sounders’ opening game. We were quickly swept up by what seemed to be a magical combination of people and events–by the beautiful feet and minds of Dempsey and Martins; by the fans’ surround-sound singing and ritualized scarf waving; and by strangers, standing for the whole of the game, high-fiving us when we scored.
People working at the field offered help, asked if we were having a good time, and told us to be sure to come back. Even the traffic jam getting into the field was exciting because we were stopped right in front of the fans’ March to the Match and the Sound Wave’s boisterous marching band.
And we won the game!—3-zip, a win complete with a Martins’ flip and a set-up and pass so beautiful it made you cry. This is not a game for the ironic; you have to be full-out in love. You have to wear your heart loudly on your blue and green jacket.
In the face of all that joy and energy, paying attention to inclines and doorways can get a little lost, but there was really not much to notice. CenturyLink Field is fully accessible for soccer fans in wheelchairs—and football fans, as well. The field’s website provides information about services for disabled fans, so check the site out: http://www.centurylinkfield.com/stadium-guide/#disabled.
Continue reading CenturyLink Field
600 Union Street
Seattle, WA 98101
Each year four of us go out on the town for one amazing dinner to celebrate all of our birthdays. These are two of our dearest friends, and our challenge for these meals is to deny ourselves nothing, which usually leads to the four of us spending so much money on the meal that we are embarrassed to tell anyone about it. The excess and fiscal irresponsibility of this celebration means that we cannot repeat it in a given year; hence, the one meal out for the four special days.
This year, we decided to celebrate at Loulay, the new restaurant of Seattle’s revered chef-in-the-hat, Thierry Rautureau. My beloved pusher called ahead and had a conversation with the hostess about seating. The restaurant has two levels—one up a long staircase—and we needed to be sure our reserved table was on the ground floor with a clear passage to the restrooms, he told her. She said she had just the table for us. And she did!
Our amazing meal was lit by a charming French candle. Two of us have special dietary needs, so some of us feasted on crab beignets, oysters, foie gras, sweet polenta with mushrooms, beet carpaccio with smoked salmon and chevre, salmon with red beans, roasted chicken, the chef’s hot chocolate with toasted brioche and salted butter…well, embarrassingly, the list goes on. The evening was a delight to the senses, and we sang the virtues of everything we ate to each other, praising the chef-in-the-hat, himself, when he stopped by our table. “Thank you,” I told him, “for making your restaurant so accommodating to those of us in wheelchairs.” “I love everyone,” Mr. Rautureau responded, “and I want my restaurant to be one everyone can enjoy.”
And enjoy it we did! The food was amazing; the space felt welcoming; and our server never smirked even once when we kept adding to our order.
Continue reading Loulay
6046 W. Lake Sammamish Parkway NE
Redmond, WA 98052
Our lovely daughter and handsome son-in-law gave us tickets to the Cirque du Soleil touring show (here till March 22), so on a very dark and very stormy night, we drove across the lake to Marymoor Park to see the show. This was the second time we had been treated to the Cirque. The first time visiting a new place can be a bit anxiety-producing both for me and my beloved pusher. I worry about bathrooms and having to damage others’ feet and coats to get to my seat; he worries about me worrying. Going to the Cirque du Soleil this second time was a known entity and so seemed easy.
Based in Montreal, Quebec Canada, Cirque du Soleil is at once magical, comic, heart-stopping, and otherworldly. The performers are beautiful and strong, and the sets are gorgeous. This version—entitled “Kurios, Cabinet of Curiosities”—was steampunky—nodding simultaneously to a romanticized past with its manual typewriters and graceful phonographs, to a robotic future, and to an imagined time when people flew in gorgeous, open-cockpit, bat-winged airplanes.
Cirque does an excellent job of accommodating wheelchair visitors, beginning with the ticketing process. Tickets for handicapped spots can be purchased online or with the phone assistance of a kind staff person, and the Cirque website makes both options easy.
At the performance, the Cirque staff also kindly accommodates handicapped viewers, with only one glitch on this visit.
Continue reading Cirque du Soleil – Kurios
1401 Third Avenue
Corner of Third and Union
Seattle, WA 98101
On a furiously stormy January night, we needed a place to celebrate the new year with our dear friends from Oregon. One of us is a vegan; one of us ventures into the animal kingdom only for certain kinds of fish; and two of us eat everything humanly possible. We needed a place that could accommodate all food desires deliciously with comfortable space for a wheelchair, so we reserved a spot at the aromatic candlelit haven that is Wild Ginger.
Looking out the Wild Ginger windows at the gloom of downtown Seattle on a windy rain-cloaked night, we felt as though we were safely tucked away in a warm place that would serve us a lovely meal, and we were not disappointed. We all shared lively spring rolls with a pineapple dipping sauce to start. Our omnivores chucked down oysters, prawns, and chicken; our vegan chose a couple of savory small plates from the vegan/vegetarian menu, including a pumpkin soup; and our vegetarian fish eater had an amazing tofu and eggplant dish with a stolen prawn on the side.
The wait staff were divine—attentive and negligent exactly when we wanted them to be. They let us take our time so we could enjoy each other and this very sweet and—with the exception of parking–accessible spot.
Continue reading Wild Ginger
4326 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
I have deep affection for many material things in the world, and two categories of things that I love the most are books and office supplies. Therefore, it is not surprising that I have spent many hours of my life at the University Book Store. I can’t pay a better tribute to the worlds, characters, experiences, and truths that books open up to us than those already paid by writers far more eloquent than I am.
Therefore, let me move to a tribute to office supplies: those lovely gel, rolling ball, and ballpoint pens—how beautifully they slip along the sweet slightly absorbent pages of those many-colored, lined and unlined pads and notebooks; those hundreds of calendar choices—large or small, weekly or daily, leather or paper covered; the riotous bouquets of markers and pencils; the richly patterned or deeply-hued papers; the glorious tapestry of paper clips and post-it notes—oh, be still my heart!! The University Book Store’s office supplies (which flow almost organically into the art supplies) are a caravan of exotics plonked in the desert of the smartphones, keyboards, and online scheduling that often dominates our days. Sometimes you just need to get away from that, to step into a bright bazaar, a place where you can see the jewel-colored silks shimmering in the sunlight, run your hand over the thick pile of the muted carpets, and hear the murmuring of camels, riders, and spice-seekers talking among themselves. That’s what the University Book Store’s office supply area offers.
Lucky for those of us in wheelchairs who love books, need textbooks, and crave office and art supplies, once you get inside it, the University Book Store is quite accessible. However, getting inside can be a bit of a problem—but, to be sure, not a big enough problem to keep you out.
Continue reading University Book Store
401 NE Northgate Way Ste. 1106
Seattle, WA 98125
After risking our lives with Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway in the interstellar search for a planet that could support human life, we and our fellow travelers—dear friends of 30 years—needed a good meal. So we shuttled on over to Stanford’s from the movie theater, a trip demanding no suiting up or oxygen tanks.
Stanford’s, a free-standing restaurant at the northwest tip of Northgate mall, is one of a chain of nine restaurants located primarily in the Portland area. Stanford’s has an older feel to it than some Seattle restaurants, and, indeed, we weren’t the only gray-beards in the place as we sometimes are. The menu is wide-ranging, offering just about everything from pizza to prime rib to delectable desserts, including a warm apple crisp with cinnamon ice cream and bourbon caramel sauce.
We had a wonderful meal there, a conversation that we could all hear, and an easy time getting in and out. Stanford’s is a good dining choice for those searching for a restaurant in our galaxy that can support wheelchair diners.
Continue reading Stanford’s Restaurant
2630 NE University Village St,
Seattle, WA 98105
On a cold, rainy day of shopping at the University Village, my beloved pusher and I decided that Elemental might be a cozy place for a late lunch. Located in the north end of the ever-expanding shopping center, Elemental specializes in a big selection of wood-fired pizzas that can accommodate gluten-free diets, vegan cheese needs, meat-worshippers’ desires, and the obsessions of potato lovers alike. Many of the toppings, along with the flour used in the pizza dough, are locally sourced. In addition, Elemental serves delicious appetizers, such as the wood-fired cauliflower shown in the picture above, and hearty sandwiches, including the grilled veggie shown in the photo below.
The food at Elemental is tasty, and the servers are sweet and generous. However, the path in and out is tight and bathroom access is extremely challenging, making Elemental a less than optimal choice for wheelchair diners.
Continue reading Elemental
2680 NE 49th Street
Seattle, WA 98105
As the current ADA Bathroom Queen of Seattle, I have visited many bathrooms in the University Village, including those in restaurants and those shared by groups of businesses. Some are good; some are a bit challenging; and all are “accessible” by legal standards. However, one bathroom goes above and beyond basic standards, and I wanted to just take a moment here to honor it. It’s the bathroom in the Crate and Barrel store in the northern-most wing of the U Village. (The store, too, is wonderfully accessible, but I’ll save that for a separate review.)
The bathroom is located on the main floor, in the northwest corner off a short corridor that leads to the employee-only area. It’s a small bathroom with one or two other stalls and a handicapped stall that also has a baby-changing station in it. This handicapped stall is gorgeous. It’s huge with a wide door and plenty of space inside to maneuver wheelchairs or strollers. It’s always spotless. There are grab-bars around the toilet, and the toilet paper is within easy reach. The roll-under sink is in the stall itself, so you don’t have to navigate wet countertops and water-splashed floors as you wash your hands.
Thank you, Crate and Barrel, for this anxiety-free bathroom space for wheelchair-using shoppers!
120 N 85th Street
Seattle, WA 98103
My beloved pusher and I grieved when our daughters grew too old to want toys for Christmas because that shut us out from our favorite shopping trips. No more Duplos and Legos, doll houses, erector sets, ponies with a head of hair Jennifer Aniston would have envied, puzzles, Playmobile, stuffed animals, fire engines, weaving sets, or nerf anythings.
Our taste in toys ranged from expensive wooden toys to cheap plastic rings. In short, we had no taste in toys, uniformly loving almost all of them. Even today our family measures a good Christmas by how it stacks up to the best one of all—the She-Ra (Princess of Power) Castle Christmas. It’s a ridiculously high bar!
Therefore, my pusher and I were excited to go to Top Ten Toys to buy a few things to leave around the house for small guests to discover during what—for them—might be a boring brunch. Always making local “best of” lists, Top Ten Toys is a place of joy and wonder for everyone who enters. Budding musicians can find instruments from around the world there, and 10-year olds with engineering ideas could begin their studies in the store’s Lego and building section. This is a store where you can find a miniature bulldozer with working parts, a glittery pink cape, a menagerie of stuffed animals and their babies, a working small stethoscope, puzzles for people of every age, and every make of toy car. Wheelchair shoppers can take their time browsing. The store is open to all of us.
Continue reading Top Ten Toys