Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Lark.

C. and I head down to Lark for dinner. It has been a long week, so we order wine along with our dinner. I order for us, no meat because it is Friday and C. is observing Lent. (Which also, alas, means no dessert). We drink our wine - mine is a Côte du Rhone, selected at random - and eat bread-and-butter, and a salad of golden beets tossed with slices of Cara Cara (the name is like a song) oranges and lumps of blue cheese. I am curious as to who first thought of pairing cheese with beets, and how it spread from restaurant to restaurant like a red-and-white rash. The turbot is wonderful, heaped with shavings of fennel and just lightly touched with the heady, oily weight of white truffle oil. C. has the Spanish mackerel over pasta with chorizo and escarole; it being Friday she picks out all the chorizo, and I wonder what the kitchen makes of it. I give into a craving for steak tartare, which comes with onion crackers and a little tangle of something curly, like baby frisée. Like my glass of wine, it is exactly what I needed tonight.

The foie gras protesters are late, and have not gathered outside by the time we leave. Perhaps next time.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Late afternoon. Café Presse.

It has been months since I went to Café Presse. The menu is limited and the service is unpredictable. But sometimes you just want a bowl of soup, or a croque monsieur. So I head out after work - I am unusually early - and find a seat at one of those strangely olive-colored tables. I order onion soup and grapefruit juice, and settle in with a book. J. did not answer his phone, so the odds of him showing up are extremely slim. His loss. The soup is as good as I remember, sweet (the way caramelized onions are sweet) and savory (with cheese and broth) and intense, with an excellent ration of cheese-to-toast-to-soup. I finish my soup and juice and order hot chocolate. A hot chocolate, or a chaud? asks the waiter. (He is very cute). I order a chaud, which is very thick and chocolatey and comes with a separate saucer of whipped cream, and it rounds out my afternoon snack/early dinner very nicely.

Usually I see a familiar face here, people I often see around the neighborhood (once I saw two rather well-known tv actors and the frontman of a local band), and today I see K. (one of the owners of Lark) at the bar with M. (who is one of the owners of Licorous, next door), deep in discussion.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Lark.

Ordinarily I head to Lark on weekends, but today I think I will head down a day early, even though the foie gras protesters have postponed their sign-waving verbal assault until tomorrow. So I sit at the bar and chat with the servers as they stop to mix drinks and pour wine. As always I order a few specials, and sit back to wait for my dinner. There is crispy-skinned fish (fluke, or something), curiously like the black cod some weeks before. Then lamb tongue, served on skewers. (Who doesn't like a little tongue, cracks J., when I tell her I love tongue and always order it when it is available). I finish with mango sorbet layered with slices of blood orange and grapefruit, with little lemongrass-infused marshmallows scattered here and there, and fluffy bits of shaved coconut. It is cool and sweet and just a little tart.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dinner for three. Barrio.

My neighborhood has changed since I started working here nearly six years ago, and even more since I moved in three years afterwards. The eight or so blocks between my apartment and the lab is now a minefield of restaurants (in addition to the old pubs and clubs that stand steadfastedly against the yuppie tide), from an inexpensive Japanese(-American) noodle joint to a fancy gastropub, with Lark a few blocks out of the direct path. A new condo development has sprung from the shell of an old building, housing an organic pizza place and a Northwest-inflected Mexican restaurant, Barrio.

On K.'s suggestion we head to Barrio for dinner. I walk by this place almost every day, with its dark wood tables set for dinner even at seven in the morning. We are flummoxed by the towering wall of dark-metal-studded wooden doors, the main door handle somehow invisible to the naked eye. Oh. There's only one door. (Hint: it's on the left side, closest to the sidewalk). We are led to a table by the window, seated at what feels like a rather high table (we are short), on chairs that are heavy and uncomfortable. (They have deep cushions, but there is nothing to grip, so it is hard to move your chair unless you stand up). Through the window I can see K. sashaying down the street, and stand in front of the door, as we had, trying to figure out how to get inside. Nearly every other diner who comes in that night has that same problem.

We order tuna crudo and seared scallops to share, and a pork cheek tamale, the tortitas, and the tacos. Actually, we wind up sharing everything, from the crudo served with jicama chips to the tacos heaped with grilled steak, shredded barbecued pork shoulder, and bbq prawns. I rather like the tortitas, which are soft buns filled with that same pork shoulder, ancho chile chicken, and chorizo with a quail egg. It is all very tasty, and I wish I had ordered more. Another time. We finish with churros served with a thick chocolate sauce, crispy and light and rich. Definitely there will be another time.

On our way home my mother and I walk towards Lark, where the foie gras protestors are out in force. They are waving signs and yelling - they hadn't told me about the yelling - and making so much noise we can hear them halfway across the Seattle University campus as we head back up the hill. You have to admire their passion, even if you don't agree with their beliefs.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday Lark.

My father leaves tonight, and as a parting meal he chooses Lark. As always, they are surprised to see me on a weekday, surprised to see me with other people. It is a running joke now. We sit at one of the booths, and I order whatever catches my eye as my mother complains about the dearth of vegetarian options. (She eats meat, just not a lot of it). A salad of endive and beets with blue cheese. Onion soup, with Gruyere toasts. Ricotta gnudi with escarole, a broth. Fat little sardines over assorted vegetables. A soupy risotto made with black rice, bits of chorizo. Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes. Mussels. For once, we each order one dessert. I have sticky toffee pudding with dates and pecans or walnuts, I can't remember which. I steal some hazelnut chocolate mousse from my mother, and my father eats his tarte tatin without interruption.

It will be July before we are all together again.