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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

BREAKING: Bad Lighting Nearly Ruins Dining Experience!

posted by on March 20 at 11:18 AM

Everybody loves Osteria la Spiga. Me too. I loved la Spiga in its old digs on Broadway—heck, after two or three dozen visits I’d even come to appreciate their Epcot-Center-esque “dat’s Italian!” decor. The food was so good—particularly the pasta—that it hardly mattered that every surface was spackled with cliches. So I was looking forward to eating at la Spiga after its big move to 12th Avenue—particularly in the wake of all the rave reviews, most of which heaped as much praise on la Spiga’s new space as they did on la Spiga’s food. And, yeah, the room is beautiful. And the food? As good as I remembered it… but outclassed, just a bit, by the space.

One thing bothered me, though—the lighting. Not the lights over the booths, which looked fine, but the light over my two-top table. They’ve got these weird… flashlight… things… hanging most of the tables.


The the light they give off is cold and harsh—and has a weird green glow. It’s unflattering—to the food, to your dining companion. Lean forward and it glares in your eyes and makes you look cadaverous…


…lean back and you can’t hear the person your dining with.

I wouldn’t say that the lighting at la Spiga ruined our dining experience. But it came close. Oh, the humanity.

RSS icon Comments


Could they possibly be using some sort of full-spectrum UV lamps? In which case your meal was nearly ruined because it appeared under a reasonable facsimile of natural sunlight?

Posted by COMTE | March 20, 2007 11:56 AM

It's also really fucking loud in there.

Posted by Amy Kate Horn | March 20, 2007 12:04 PM

oh, the suffering writer! such terrors you live through!

just kidding. i hate that type of lighting, too.

Posted by konstantconsumer | March 20, 2007 12:15 PM

Brains! I suddenly have a hankering for brains!

Posted by him | March 20, 2007 12:29 PM

I had the same experience. I tried to move the table because I was so blinded. No matter what I did, I couldn't shield my eyes. Definitely interfered with the meal.

Posted by kid icarus | March 20, 2007 12:31 PM

Also watch out for strange, vaguely insulting commments from the wait staff. I mean, maybe I was having a bad hair day, but "rocking the modern cavegirl?" She's lucky me and my companion have good senses of humor and don't freak out like alot of customers would.

Posted by scharrera | March 20, 2007 1:05 PM

Please elaborate, Scharrera.

Posted by Dan Savage | March 20, 2007 1:14 PM

Every review except one has found the service wanting (including my writeup). It's now been MONTHS, and still the last time I went in, the waitstaff was glacially slow (pre–climate change) and extremely offhand and three different servers were involved. And now they're making fun of diners' hair? Hello?

Dan, the lighting at the booths in the bar is nice. I've never sat under one of those zombielamps.

Posted by Bethany Jean Clement | March 20, 2007 1:40 PM

Why is it that service sucks in Seattle. If you travel 3-hours south to Portland you get good service. If you travel 3-hours north to Vancouver you get good service.

Seattle...not so much.

Posted by It's a Seattle thing | March 20, 2007 2:01 PM

at Ha Na, i just reach up into the lamp & unscrew the fucking 100 watt bulb.

try that with a halogen & you're in harborview.

these sterile new dining spaces seem to have forgotten the basics: keep the lighting warm, keep the surfaces soft, bring the ceiling down to human scale.

the new asteroid cafe in fremont is a nightmare. give me casa d'italia in ravenna any day. but don't start going there, hipsters. its too small & suburban for you.

Posted by Max Solomon | March 20, 2007 2:16 PM

My BF had that complaint about the lights over the bar - and will feel soooo vindicated too. The service is slow, so we only sit at the bar now. We experience a kind of Fundie/Evangelical-like duality - love the food, hate the service

Posted by jackseattle | March 20, 2007 4:56 PM

@ 9. Quite a generalization. I think there's plenty of great service to be had a restaurants in Seattle. Although I would agree Neo-La Spiga is not one of those restaurants. I just don't think the execution is good enough for that space. The effect is a little bit like "Let's pretend we're in a really good restaurant!" In other words, spectacular (or even just prominent) design can be bane more than boon, to the extent that it elevates expectations for food, drink and service. I'd rather be in a homely space with great service, food and drink than in an expensive space with indifferent (or worse) execution.

Posted by fixo | March 20, 2007 5:27 PM

Regarding service vs design -- yeah, just take Tavolata, it of many glowing reviews (have we determined who from there is sleeping with whom at the stranger that the reviews are so post-coital?) I know some people like the decor, but to me it's long, narrow, loud, and all raw concrete -- you're essentially dining inside the Viaduct (except the Viaduct has better lighting). But the service is very good, even when the place is packed. And it hasn't been open all that long. So it's not like good help is that hard to find.

Posted by Joe | March 21, 2007 2:50 AM

I like going places with lousy service, that way I don't have to leave a tip. And sometimes I even get my meal free.

Posted by Anon | March 21, 2007 6:14 AM

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