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.
Parking: Loulay is located on the corner of Union and 6th, and you can find valet parking a half block down 6th at the Sheraton Hotel. That makes parking ridiculously easy if a little expensive, but the word “down” is appropriate. You’ll be walking, rolling, or—in the case of my beloved pusher—pushing up hill for that half block to get back to the Loulay entry.
Entrances and aisles: The entry is wide and flat and puts you right between the bar and the reception area. The bar was packed all night, so you can be pretty confident that someone will help you with the door, as people did for us, if you need help. Aisles are roomy enough for wheelchairs.
Tables: Two rows of booths stretch along one side of the downstairs space, and tables line the middle and window wall. Our table—two two-person tables pushed together–was perfect. It was the last table in the row of tables down the center of the room. There was plenty of room for my wheelchair and for wait staff to serve diners in the booth behind me without being kidney-smacked by my wheelchair handles. Although the space was full, it was easy to move the table out just a bit when I needed to go to the restroom so that no one in the booth was disturbed.
Restrooms: The path to the two bathrooms from our table was wide and took us through a server station area. Although marked with male/female images, both single-user bathrooms were unisex, allowing helpers to accompany you if you need that. Both were large and both had grab bars around the toilet.
And who doesn’t appreciate a bunch of fresh flowers in the bathroom, as well!
Photos of interior space online: Yes on Google Images.
Photos of entrances online: No.
Reservations taken: Yes. Make sure you tell them that Spoken Wheel recommended them when you call to reserve your spot!
What the wheelchair pusher has to say: The staff were wonderful and helpful. The reception person who handled our reservation did a perfect job. We had plenty of room and good access to the restroom. It was really nice to have valet parking nearby, and everything was easy to get to. Mr. Rautureau made us feel welcomed. It doesn’t get better than Loulay.
Photo credit: Interior of tables and booths, www.seattlemet.com