Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I haven't blogged in a while--been a little busy. Here's a summary of a few places we've tried in the last few months:

Dahlia Lounge--Tom Douglas's "flagship" restaurant, 4th at Virginia in Seattle. Honestly I think Lola, Palace Kitchen and Etta's are better. I started with a rather strange appetizer: crispy sweetbreads (which were good) paired with very thin slices of guanciale on a bed of what was billed as "carbonara" but which was small pieces of spaghetti in a bland white sauce. For an entree I had pork loin, which consisted of thick slices of pork with a somewhat flavorful crust, on a bed of diced vegetables. It came with deep fried slices of pig ear, which were good. The pork was OK but not great. Coconut creme pie for dessert was good as usual. My dining companions' dinner was also variable. E.'s salmon was good, but the plate itself was so hot that after a couple of minutes on the table, the sauce had separated. R.'s "Peking" duck was tasty. Debbie had crab cakes as a main course, and those were very good. The waitress kept touching E.'s back, as she leaned in to tell us about the many big groups that were delaying our meal. Don't touch the customer! Most people find it intrusive from a stranger.

Union, which is at 1st and Union in Seattle, was a very good meal. We went several weeks ago, so I don't remember everything we had, but the melon soup with crab meat was fantastic. The room is tasteful in a modern style with large windows to the street, and the food is all elegant and well-prepared. I'll go back.

Kabul is an Afghan restaurant in Wallingford. I haven't had decent Afghan food since Kybher Pass in San Diego. We enjoyed it very much. Debbie had aushak, which was good, and I had a kebab special that was good as well. Parking is a bit of a pain because the neighborhood has resident-only permit parking. Next time I'd take the bus.

C'est La Vie Crepes de Paris: Opened last month next to the cleaners in the shopping center on High School Road in Bainbridge Island. Run by a tall, exuberant Parisian named David. The first time we went was right after it opened, it was mobbed, and it took 20 minutes to make our crepes. They were disappointing, a bit too thick and dry. I waited a couple of weeks and went back, and that time the crepes were much better. The batter has a very strong buckwheat flavor. I still like the J'Aime les Crepes in Kingston better, but hopefully over time David will improve his product. One disappointment is that it's only open through lunchtime. I guess David wants to have a life or something, but I want my crepe for dinner! My other complaint is that he uses too many prepackaged ingredients.

BOKA is a flashy, high-concept bar/restaurant in the new "1000" hotel on 1st in Seattle. Plexi panels behind the bar and booths with changing colored lights behind them, large plasma monitors playing videos of impressionist art, lots of steel grills, etc. The bar has fancy cocktails like a lemongrass lemondrop, etc. I had one, and it was fine except for too many ice chips, because the muscle-man behind the bar shakes the hell out of it, occasionally spraying the patrons at the bar. The food is hit or miss. The crab "cupcakes" with creme fraiche "frosting" are cute but cloyingly sweet. The chicken "lollipops" were good. We had a tuna sashimi salad sort of thing that was pretty good, but had this savory-sweet layering thing going on that was a bit odd. Veal cheek risotto was pleasant. I had a lamb dish that was served with couscous, harissa and basil oil. It was oddly flavorless. I think a real splooge of harissa would have done it a lot of good, as opposed to red- and green-colored oils sitting prettily on the plate. If you want a trendy bar that's a block from where the ferry walkway ends, it's a fun place, though the bartenders should really be a little better. Maybe we got the dud; I noticed the other bartender wasn't shaking his cocktails to death.