TASTE-ing Gauguin & Polynesia

TASTE Restaurant at SAM has translated the vibrancy of Gauguin & Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise into flavors!  The modern, fresh and artistic restaurant is furthering the experience of the exhibition with their new exhibition-inspired menu.

In designing the menu, Executive Chef Craig Hetherington sought to evoke bold, individual flavors while upholding TASTE’s mission of using the best local ingredients.  With no more than five or six ingredients per dish, each choice reflects the vivid yet simplistic character of Gauguin’s work.  Instead of simply serving Hawaiian food, Hetherington added Polynesian flair to fine local ingredients for a refined interpretation of island cuisine.

The Gauguin-inspired dinner experience begins with a selection of small plates.  The St. Jude Albacore Poke is a traditional Tahitian dish highlighting flavors of soy, vinegar and ginger.  Another excellent choice is the House Made Spam, crafted from locally raised pork loin and shoulder.  The plate offers a sophisticated twist on musubi, a traditional island treat.

The Seared Qualicum Beach Scallops is the perfect entrée to complement the exhibition.  In designing this dish, Hetherington drew inspiration from Gauguin’s French roots as well as his travels in Polynesia.  A distinctly European chevre potato purée meets the tropical taste of pickled ginger on the plate.  TASTE offers special menu choices based on seasonal offerings.  Hetherington creates flavors with fresh market fare; a recent special was Mahi Mahi with Spicy Pineapple and Browned Butter.

The Rum Cake is the perfect sweet ending to a Gauguin-inspired dinner.  Made with fresh pineapple, mango, kiwi and papaya, and topped with mascarpone cream, this dessert is tantalizing and tropical.  Bring your GO! Gauguin coupon to get a free Rum Cake!

If you can’t make it to TASTE for dinner, stop by for lunch or happy hour!  The Lunch menu offers Grilled St. Jude Albacore.  Like the scallops, this selection combines French and Polynesian fare with a soy and truffle reduction.  Kahlua Pork Sliders are featured for happy hour and are served with a green papaya slaw.

At the TASTE bar, Lead Bartender Duncan Chase works for hints of Gauguin in his exhibition-inspired cocktails.  Chase explained that Gauguin would have been drinking absinthe in Paris during his life.  However, serving absinthe would have resulted in “a lot of very drunk guests” he points out with a smile.  Instead, TASTE hand crafted a double-infused pepper vodka for their Special Exhibit Gauguin & Polynesia drink “Hiva Oa.”

“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” said Chase, admitting that the special vodka was simply a delicious experiment.  He mixes the liquor with mango puree and basil.  The cooling effects of the fresh ingredients make the cocktail drinkable for people who don’t necessarily like heat in their drinks.  The initial spice of the pepper vodka dissipates with the sweet mango and crisp basil.  Chase calls the cocktail “the fire and the extinguisher all in one glass!”

Chase invites you to come try the drink; he is very proud of the creation.  “Of all the bartenders in this city, I have the biggest license to be pretentious,” he jests, “after all, this is an art museum.”

Visit TASTE to extend your Gauguin & Polynesia experience and taste the flavors of the exhibition.  Visit www.tastesam.com for more information.


Open Tuesday – Sunday

Tuesday | 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. – Lunch & Happy Hour

Wednesday – Saturday | 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. – Lunch, Happy Hour & Dinner

Sunday | 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Brunch

Closed Monday

Located at 1300 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101
Reservations | 206.903.5291 | GIFT CERTIFICATES AVAILABLE!

– Sean C. Fraser, Public Relations Intern

10 Tips for Your Trip to “Gauguin & Polynesia”

Starting February 9, SAM Downtown has extended open hours to make it easy to see Gauguin & Polynesia: An Elusive Paradise.

Tuesday–Sunday 10 am–5 pm
Thursday & Friday
10 am–9 pm
First Thursdays
(March 1 & April 5) 10 am-midnight

Closed Mondays
(except Presidents Day & select Members-Only Mondays)

After the exhibition closes on April 29, the museum will resume Wednesday–Sunday open hours.

Want to avoid crowds?
It’s likely the museum will be busiest during First Thursdays (when ticket prices are reduced) and on Saturdays and Sundays. For a quieter experience, we encourage you to visit during the week after 2 pm (school groups tend to visit between 10 am and 2 pm), or on Thursday or Friday evenings.


Online ticketing, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

  • Guaranteed admission for your reserved day and time.
  • No waiting in line. Just print your online ticket at home or show us on your phone as you enter and you can go immediately to the special exhibition galleries.
  • No online ticketing fee.

Okay, so that’s only three, but you have to admit, they’re pretty good!

Sold out online? Don’t worry!
If your preferred time is already sold out online, you may still be admitted by showing up in person. A limited number of day-of tickets will be available— first-come, first-served—at the Ticketing Desk.

Visit seattleartmuseum.org/gauguin to check ticket availability. SAM’s Facebook page and Twitter feed will also have updates about tickets, lines and other exhibition news.


Regular-priced Gauguin & Polynesia tickets include entrance to the SAM Collection Galleries Downtown and FREE admission to the Seattle Asian Art Museum within one week. There are no extra fees for online orders.

SAM Members, Children (12 & under) FREE!
Seniors (62+), Military (with ID)
Students (with ID), Teens (13–17)

Visit First Thursdays and Fridays & Save
Admission price discounts on First Thursdays and First Fridays will be available during Gauguin & Polynesia. Visit seattleartmuseum.org/gauguin for details.

Avoid the Crowds & Save
On Thursday and Friday nights, 5–9 pm, ticket prices are reduced by $3 for everyone and lines are likely to be shorter.

Bring your Friends & Save
Receive discounted ticket prices and group benefits when you purchase 10 or more tickets in advance. For more information call 206.344.5260 or email groups@seattleartmuseum.org.

Park at 3rd and Stewart Garage & Save
Discount parking is available at the Third and Stewart Parking Garage—entrance is located on Stewart between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Ask for a voucher at the SAM Ticketing Desk and park for up to four hours for only $6.


When you buy your tickets online, you’ll get a link in your confirmation email leading to an online coupon good for great discounts from participating retailers, restaurants, and art and cultural institutions. It’s a city-wide celebration of Gauguin & Polynesia which means fun offers and super savings for you.


Gauguin & Polynesia
is in the Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries on the Fourth Floor. Please arrive 10–15 minutes before the time listed on your ticket. You must enter the galleries no more than 20 minutes after your specified time, or your reservation will be released. There is no re-entry into Gauguin & Polynesia, but once admitted you may stay as long as you wish.

Don’t forget!
You are welcome to explore the 35 international SAM Collection Galleries before or after your visit to see Gauguin & Polynesia. And, remember to bring your special exhibition ticket within one week to the Seattle Asian Art Museum and enjoy FREE admission to our recognized Asian art collection.


The Seattle Art Museum and Acoustiguide have developed an insightful audio guide with commentary about selected works in the exhibition. Download the podcast or iPhone/Android application to your digital device at seattleartmuseum.org/gauguin prior to your visit to the museum.

Don’t have your own digital device?
FREE audio wands are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Audio guides for no and low vision visitors are also available.


Want to pick up a bit of the Pacific Islands? Or maybe find that special gift? Expect the unexpected at SAM SHOP, where playful, modern and worldly wares are the norm.


Don’t forget to fill up beforehand—food and beverages are not allowed in the galleries. May we suggest TASTE Restaurant? TASTE features artistic, locally-focused food, including menu items inspired by Pacific Island cuisine. Reserve your table to coincide with your gallery visit at opentable.com.


Become a member today
and visit as many times as you like for free. Enjoy members-only benefits including exclusive access times for Gauguin & Polynesia, free admission at all SAM sites for a year and discounts at SAM SHOP and TASTE Restaurant.

Already purchased your ticket?
Stop by the Ticketing Desk to apply the price of your Gauguin & Polynesia ticket towards a membership!


See a preview of the works and learn more about Gauguin’s life, his art and his search for the exotic at seattleartmuseum.org/gauguin

Photo credit: Madeline Moy

Celebrate the Olympic Sculpture Park’s 5th Birthday with Cupcakes, Caramels and Some Seriously Cool Hats

It’s hard to believe, but the Olympic Sculpture Park is already 5 years old! By the numbers, that’s:

  • 5 seasons that salmon have been able to rest in a protected area just off our beach after hatching
  • 60 months of growth to the native plants, 1,800 sunsets over the Olympic Mountains
  • About 2.5 million people walking (and running!) through the park.

And that doesn’t even account for the art in the park – over 20 pieces of monumental sculpture sited on 9 acres, with new and temporary works installed regularly.

To celebrate this milestone, we’re inviting everyone to a FREE birthday party at the Olympic Sculpture Park’s PACCAR Pavilion on January 21 from 11 am – 3 pm!

We’ll be:

  • Handing out cupcakes and chocolate caramels (courtesy of TASTE Restaurant)
  • Giving away Olympic Sculpture Park T-shirts for kids (to the first 400)
  • Making birthday hats (with Mark di Suvero’s Bunyon’s Chess as inspiration)
  • Giving special tours of the park

What do we want for our birthday, you ask? Most importantly – you! But if you must, we’re accepting $5 donations to SAM’s Annual Fund, which helps SAM put on great exhibitions and programs. Come join us for fun and festivities!

Here’s vintage coverage by the Seattle Channel of the Olympic Sculpture Park’s opening day festivities on January 20, 2007.

-Madeline Moy, Digital Media Manager

Photo credit: Sean Fraser

Top photo: From left to right: SAM staffers Madeleine Dahl, Emily Eddy and Carlos Garcia model the birthday hats guests will have the opportunity to make at the Olympic Sculpture Park’s 5th birthday party.