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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cafe Septieme: Torture in Yellow!

posted by on February 21 at 15:51 PM

In the beginning, there were sugar cubes, and it was glorious.

They came in a white porcelain bowl, these cubes, and they were accessorized with shiny metal tongs with which to plunk them into one’s coffee. (Plunk!) The simple charm and aesthetic goodness of these sugar cubes should not be underestimated. They were brown and lumpy and rustic looking—like something someone’s barefoot French grandma had mashed together in her cottage kitchen in between kneading the daily baguette and force-feeding the goose. They were the cornerstone of myriad small and vital details that made my love of Café Septieme bloom.

But Septieme retired the old sugar cubes ages ago—just one of way-too-many small and completely wrong changes that the café has forced upon me. Us. Everyone. They replaced these wonderful cubes with trashy sugar packets…those obnoxious, infuriating little packets. And, oh, how I despise them!


The nasty little sugar packets create unsightly piles of garbage and shocking drifts of litter that gather in the corners of the table, stick to your fingers, and cling to the bottom of your cup. There is no place to dispose of them, they sift to the floor, and the waiters never take them away. They are awkward and vaguely disgusting. Septieme should never have traded them up. It was a mistake. An exercise in bad judgment. Septieme’s charm factor dropped 10 points accordingly. More, maybe. Definitely.

And now, they’ve come for the cream.


Septieme’s cream was once as God meant cream to be, served cool in its own little porcelain pitcher. Tragically, the cool white cream pitchers have been suddenly put to pasture and replaced with those cheap faux-cream “creamers” in plastic containers, each crammed to its faux-cream cranny with unnatural preservatives and evil intentions. They stand all day in the heat without fussing, and create fifteen times the landfill of the nasty little sugar packets. No honest person could claim that consuming these abominations of dairy is salubrious. God only knows the damage they do to one’s pancreas. They are against everything I stand for.


But there have been even more recent developments at Septieme that are cause for more serious alarm. Among these is the sudden and shocking appearance if an, um, electric organ. Yes. Electric organ. The kind of electric organ preferred by tent-revivalists, under-funded Lutherans, and queer public school music teachers with Phantom of the Opera obsessions called “Mr. Russell”. And if you’re wondering, the answer is yes, an electric organist came along with it (I don’t know his name…dare I guess, “Mr. Russell”?), and he organs during dinner, he organs at desert, and no matter what he’s organing, it all sounds like Lawrence fucking Welk. Because, hey, electric organ.


Um. Well, Jesus.

But hold onto your organ, for, indeed, there’s even worse news. Please forgive me for telling you. Someone has to.

The walls are yellow. You heard me.

Please to understand: Café Septieme has been around for a long, long time. It began life in Belltown and enjoyed an age when Dan Savage was counted among its colorful and surly wait staff (one day he shaved off his huge afro and disappeared—-no one has heard a word from him since.) I’ve eaten there close to three billion times. And, yes, I understand it went through a recent change of ownership or whatever, and yes, I know that change is inevitable. Thanks, mom. But one thing about Septieme was eternal, consistent, and completely dependable: Red walls.

And not just any old red: Dark, dirty, rag-painted café red, evocative of abattoirs and smoky Parisians. (The exact same red I painted my own bedroom, if you must know.) The red covered the walls and ceiling and was the blood-clot icing on the Septieme cake. It was warm and comfortable and embracing and decrepit and bohemian, like the wretched womb that gave birth to Bordeaux. It was perfect.

And now, well, yellow.


And what a yellow! Not lemon yellow, nor sunshine yellow, nor butter yellow (which would have been offensive enough), but sickly, rusty, sponge-painted-pee-of-an-Easter-egg-with-toxic-liver-syndrome yellow. And yellow is not a color for the café. Everyone knows this. It is a color for the McDonnald’s. The Denny’s. The Wendy’s. The Arby’s. The taco. It is the national color of fast food and hepatitis and the snow you never eat. And it breaks my heart.


They’ve only yellowed the walls in the big dinning room so far, but it seems inevitable that the ceiling and the bar area and the rest will soon fall too, don’t you think? That shit looks contagious.

Oh, Café Septieme. I’ve loved you so. Why are you doing this to me?!?!

RSS icon Comments


So, Adrian:

Is that electric organist AC or DC?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 21, 2008 4:02 PM

Jesus. Get a grip.

Posted by Jason Josephes | February 21, 2008 4:04 PM

new septieme remodel is so ugly. it's becoming gallarias south.

Posted by wf | February 21, 2008 4:07 PM

I don't know about the walls; they look OK to me. And the organ is THE greatest jazz instrument (aside from the human voice), if handled properly. But you're absolutely right: single serving packets, whether they be sugar, cream, salad dressing, or ketchup, are the mark of the devil. Or more accurately, the soulless accountant. They are awful, and destructive of human happiness. It's only a short step from these things to having all their entrees delivered by Sysco in microwaveable single-portion plastic bags. Hear any pinging from the kitchen?

I once opened a single-serving cream tub on the ferry only to find Russian salad dressing inside. There was a bucket of salad dressing tubs next to the creamers, but this tub clearly said "half and half" on the top, not "dressing". I should have saved it.

Posted by Fnarf | February 21, 2008 4:12 PM

I always thought Septieme's blood clot red walls were to hide the fact that they'd kept the same cheap brown leather booths from Andy's Diner (or was it Eggs Cetera?)

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 21, 2008 4:12 PM

Landing in the top 10 list of health code offenders would put me off more than the color of the walls.

Posted by unarata | February 21, 2008 4:13 PM

Cause for alarm? In 2007, Cafe Septieme had the second most "red critical" health and safety violations in the city of Seattle. It seems that are more pressing issues to worry about than the wall color and cream dispensers.

Posted by Scott | February 21, 2008 4:14 PM

Adrian, you seem kind of obsessed with Mr. Russell's organ.

Posted by Y.F. | February 21, 2008 4:17 PM

I think #6 hit the nail on the head. My guess is, the owner wants the place to look fresh and clean to let people know that the place isn't a disease encrusted filth-hole. I also think they installed some new lights, 'cause it seemed really bright in there the other day.

I can understand a freshening, but why not just re-paint the walls RED and put in some new carpet! The dumbass owner is going to drive off the few remaining Septieme fans.

And as for the health code violations, that didn't stop me from eating there. EVERY restaurant could end up on that list if the inspector came on the wrong day. Besides, the amount of liquour I drink there, kills all the bacteria that could possibly be on the food.

Posted by michael strangeways | February 21, 2008 4:19 PM

@6: Dude, who cares about health codes when it's delicious?

Or at least it used to be delicious. I haven't been since the change of ownership. I agree with Adrian, though: the yellow is lousy, and creamer is an abomination.

Posted by Aislinn | February 21, 2008 4:21 PM

Capitol Hill is filled with crappy restaurants such as this one, I wish people would stop supporting them. Then hopefully we will get some decent restaurants.

Posted by JD | February 21, 2008 4:22 PM

Maybe the new owner used to hang out at the old Dog House a lot back in the day - and those walls do sort of remind me of a faux nicotine-stain coloration.

Posted by COMTE | February 21, 2008 4:26 PM

aw, that yellow isn't as bad as all that. (drama queen)

Posted by joe perez | February 21, 2008 4:29 PM

@5 - It was Andy's Diner, and it was fucking fantastic. Eggs Cetera was where Noah's is now. God I've lived in Capitol Hill way too long....

I don't hate the yellow, but the red was better. I'm guessing the health code violations and subsequent sugar packets and fake creamers are related. Yes, individual-serve items are awful, but I can see why the cafe would go that way if their inspections have yielded so many health code violations.

But the organ? No excuse for that shit. 2$ - the organ might be a great instrument for jazz, but inflicting live jazz on unsuspecting restaurant customers is never a good idea. I will never eat at Septieme if there is some fool playing the organ.

Posted by genevieve | February 21, 2008 4:36 PM

This place has always been scummy. I never understoon why some Mo's liked it, always dirty, usually a bunch of illegals cooking, serving and hitting on any guy with a hairy chest.
This place is skanky, was skanky and will always be skanky.

Posted by Vashon-guy | February 21, 2008 4:39 PM


Posted by JC | February 21, 2008 4:42 PM

If I want illegals hitting on my hairy chest, I'll go to Gallerias.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 21, 2008 4:45 PM

@15: well, that explains it. my massively hairy chest. i knew it was something. the waiters have always loved me.

Posted by adrian | February 21, 2008 4:46 PM

Never been, despite my longing for their cakes, because someone told me that the same guy who owns La Cocina owns Septieme...the gay immigrant who refused to let his immigrant employees attend that big immigrants' rights march a year or two ago. Not cool in my book.

Posted by thaumaturgistguy | February 21, 2008 4:48 PM

The youthful angst is gone. Bring on the middle-aged dropsy and nausea.

Posted by Spoogie | February 21, 2008 4:53 PM

You don't like it, don't spend your money there. It's a free country. Otherwise, shut the fuck up.

Posted by Elvis | February 21, 2008 4:54 PM

Really? Is it your hairy chest, or your mighty Wurlitzer?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | February 21, 2008 4:54 PM

You could hasten their demise by surreptitiously emptying your little creamers into the creases and folds of your banquette and wiping up all the external signs. Spoiled milk smells wonderful.

Andy's Diner was one of the great wonders of the world.

Posted by Fnarf | February 21, 2008 5:00 PM


No, we'll just get our 18th Pho restaurant or our 25th Thai place.

Posted by F | February 21, 2008 5:17 PM

@22: you heard about my wurlitzer, huh? the legend lives.

Posted by adrian! | February 21, 2008 5:26 PM

crap! now I have to think about pissing while looking at walls that came from the ass end of a bad menstrual cycle. great.

and, hey @#7, get over it!

@#11, what! what's the deal? crappy restaurants? so the ideal place for you is....denny's, more thai? yeah! go back to IHOP!
and're right, if people don't like Cafe, then they can fuck off!

for those that don't know, I met some of my greatest friends there while cruising the asses walking by the window...DEAL with it!

Posted by brandon | February 21, 2008 5:31 PM

always hated it.

Posted by kyd | February 21, 2008 5:37 PM

Who goes to Café Septieme anymore? The place is so ten years ago!

Posted by Jim Demetre | February 21, 2008 5:41 PM

Drama! And all over sugar packets and little tubs of cream.

Sounds like someone should start taking their coffee black.

...but yeah, the walls were a mistake.

Posted by cal | February 21, 2008 5:42 PM

hadn't heard about the ownership change, but clearly it's the ghost of Andy's avenging itself upon Adrian (who, actually, I expect would have loved Andy's for what it was, seeing that he has an eye for the quality).

Posted by mike | February 21, 2008 6:22 PM

Dead to me! You are dead to me now!

I did love it there too. So sad.

Posted by chris | February 21, 2008 6:56 PM

I love(d) Septieme!

Their super-cheap and yummy breakfast specials (Greek omelet!), their bowls of coffee, the delicious breakfast potatoes, the equally delicious garlic mashed potatoes, the homemade ketchup, the slow euro-style service, the burger specials, the saffron soup (sigh!), the Mexicans in the kitchen ('cause everyone knows their the best cooks), the dim lighting, the red walls...

It is (was) the perfect place to spend a rainy winter afternoon-- eating slowly, reading a good book, talking with friends. It has (had) character and personality. It serves(d) decent food at great prices. It's never crowded or loud, there's never a wait. Septieme used to be perfect.

Now, though... I don't know. Poor Septieme.

Posted by Samantha | February 21, 2008 7:47 PM

In the very last back booth of Cafe Septieme I offered Poltroon a gold ring with a big rock of diamond stone attached and she condescended to save me from a life of dissipation.

Posted by elenchos | February 21, 2008 7:56 PM

@28 wins.

Posted by Will in Seattle | February 21, 2008 8:07 PM

Adrian, you are a national treasure. The new Septieme has been a tragedy for years--ever since Kurt sold it to the guy who owns La Cocina down the street--but the yellow sponge-painted walls are a BRIDGE TOO FUCKING FAR. They make me feel like I'm in a hospital. Also: The typo-riddled menus; the elevated prices ($25 for a fucking steak at a glorified diner??); the ugly ugly ugly decorations, replete with religious symbols, during every major holiday (remember the tasteful Christmas lights of years past?); the ever-more-mediocre food; and on and on and on. Septieme, we hardly knew you.

Posted by ECB | February 21, 2008 8:31 PM

I forgot I was going to say that if Septieme fades away that opens up room for something new to flourish. If it hadn't declined, we'd be stuck with it still. Change is good even if it is uncomfortable.

Posted by elenchos | February 21, 2008 8:35 PM

I thought Dan worked at Red Lobster.

Posted by Mr. Poe | February 21, 2008 9:47 PM

and #28 does not win.

#16 wins. Big time.

Posted by Mr. Poe | February 21, 2008 9:50 PM

Dan worked at Chucky Cheesie for the obvious reasons

Posted by Adam | February 21, 2008 9:58 PM

thats not yellow. its bile.

Posted by rtm | February 21, 2008 10:20 PM

God is in the details.

Posted by Geoffrey | February 21, 2008 11:14 PM

Sugar cube are quaint, but they take too fucking long to dissolve.

Has anyone ever heard this color called piss burnt brittle?

Posted by Bauhaus | February 21, 2008 11:16 PM

I could KINDA overlook the immigration rally thing (and the really lame subsequent firing of the awesome manager/server who let employees off work anyway to go to the rally) - but then the health code violations and now THIS?!?!?!?! Thats IT - farewell Huevos Rancheros ala Septieme - we had some good times...

Posted by marigold | February 22, 2008 8:56 AM

1)I hate the new-ish owner and I hate the yellow walls.
2)BUT, the food is still good (schweinschnitzle; YUM!) AND Rodney is the best waiter in town and makes the best drinks.
3)the organist is only there on Thursday's I think, and special occasions. I'm not fond of organ music, but the organist is very nice.
4)yeah, it would be great if Septieme closes so it can be replaced with either some lameass chain restaurant or some gawdamned yuppie joint. The last time I tried to eat in the trendy new 12th & Pike corridor on a Saturday night, I couldn't find a place to eat and was nearly trampled by middle aged Bellevue-ians; I immediately fled to the soothing comforts of Septieme and had a lovely evening surrounded by various Capitol Hill rockers, hipsters, fags and freaks.
5)It's pretty simple: good change is good and bad change is bad. Someone back Rodney so he can buy out the dumbass owner and restore Septieme to its former glory with some good changes.
6)uh, what time do the hairy chest lovers hang out there?

Posted by michael strangeways | February 22, 2008 9:27 AM

I will NEVER eat there again!

Posted by Babs-Ra | February 22, 2008 10:43 AM

I was there last night and none to happy with the changes and creepy music. I had suggested the restraunt to a blind date and looked like a wierdo when the organ guy started to play songs like "My Heart Will Go On" and the theme song to Flashdance!

The food was crappy than I remember, too.

My fave restraunt in the whole city has been ruined!!!

Posted by Erin | February 22, 2008 7:28 PM

...About music, the organist is just incredible, he has transformed Septieme in to an alive place, full of energy and just unique, I have never seen somebody so prodygious for playing such an instrument, also can play for hours, without reading any musical note!!, we love him and is more international than anybody on town, the guy is asome, probably you just know about cheap colombian cafe.

Posted by Gabriel | February 23, 2008 2:21 AM

I used to love the $2.25 breakfasts at Andy's too, but LET IT GO!!! That was a LONG time ago. The place has basically looked the same since. Those paintings by PARIS are still on the wall right?
I don't really dig the yellow walls or the lack of good vegetarian choices on the menu, but the organ player is freaking awesome! Has anyone commenting here actually heard him or are you just too small minded to realize the organ is really cool? The guy plays Brasil '66 on that thing. And then the theme from Flashdance and then the Flight of the Bumblebee, for Christ's sake. What do you want??!!
... Plus have you noticed he's really handsome and has the best smile in Seattle. Get over yourselves.

Posted by wiseblood68 | February 23, 2008 3:38 AM

I hated the fucking red walls. I haven't set foot in Septieme for ten years because of that wretched color.

Posted by george | February 25, 2008 12:28 AM

The color of the paint? Meh.

But the cream and the sugar cubes, I can see what you're saying. The real vs. the fake. Real has been losing in this country for decades.

Cheese food.
Bleached teeth.
I could go on... for hours...

Posted by CP | February 25, 2008 3:43 PM

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