It's a pleasure to report that 13 Coins, Seattle's favorite 24-hour restaurant, is still alive and doing better than expected for an institution that's been around for almost half a century.
As you walk in, you get a sense of déjà vu (or should we say déjà mangé?). In your memory, you've surely been here before, or seen upscale diners like this in the movies: elegant leather upholstery, swivel-back chairs along the counter, fawning servers, the darkness pierced by flashes of fire from the exhibition kitchen (an innovation when it opened), where a brigade of cooks incinerate one classic dish after another. Yes, Hollywood. The Brown Derby. Chasen's. Or Broadway: Delmonico's.
Appetizers cascade onto the table: the Coins's excellent sautéed calamari, a juicy artichoke, steamed clams (with too much pesto), barbecued pork. Main courses: coconut prawns, eggs Florentine, crab & shrimp Louis, veal piccata, steak Sinatra. For "old times' sake," I order the Joe's Special: eggs scrambled with chopped sirloin, onions, spinach.
Back in the days of three-martini lunches, I'd come here with the gang from KING TV and nosh on a tureen of bean soup. I returned four years ago at the invitation of a PR firm hired by the longtime owners to announce a new chef, and I wrote a couple of paragraphs for Examiner.com. (That was before the site spun out of control into right-wing, Phil Anschutz batshit-craziness.)
The 13 Coins occupies a one-story building next door to Fairview Fanny (as the Times was once called), and part of its early success was due to its proximity to the newspaper offices. The international journalist Dominic Holden, who had written an appreciative item in The Stranger about those calamari, noted, "That was when the Times was a real newspaper, though."