Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dining Out For Life. Lark.

Once a year three or four thousand restaurants in nearly sixty cities across the United States and Canada hold an event called Dining Out For Life. The day's proceeds are donated to a local AIDS group; Seattle has dozens of restaurants and cafés participating, and I am dizzy with choices. Finally, I settle on Lark, but first I head to Caffé Vita for a latté (which I rarely drink) and two pastries (which I seldom buy). I can eat one of the pastries tomorrow. Cost so far: $9. Donation: $2.70. It's a start.

By dinner time I am starving, and head down the hill towards Lark. I haven't been here in a while, over a month, and it feels like a welcoming hug. The room is nearly empty, but by the time I leave nearly every table is occupied. There are chic girls-about-town and couples of all ages, and one large party (as usual) at the far end of the room. From my seat I can see everyone. It is my favorite seat, the last one of the long line of banquettes that run beneath the windows against the north wall. (This table and the one at the other end are good for parties of five, because the bench wraps around, creating a fifth seat at the end of the table). I order a salad of tuna belly confit, and the special, a veal crépinette.

While I am waiting for my salad, I eat bread - a walnut baguette and a plain crusty white - and butter, wish I had thought to order wine. When my salad arrives I ask for a glass of rosé, which is cool and gentle, but more interesting than white wine, and it casts a pink glow across my table when the light catches at my glass. The salad has slices of soft tuna belly - all tender and white - tangled with slices of something that is a bit like the tuna version of prosciutto, and tossed with tiny leaves and herbs and knobby chunks of potato. I think I need to stretch out my meal a bit, and order soup, leek and potato, which seems more like a thick cream flavored with leek and potato.

I finish my soup in about four spoonfuls, and then my crépinette arrives. I had first had this, a lamb version, at the Whole Beast dinner last year, and have been waiting ever since for it to reappear on the menu. This is a flattish round sausage of well-seasoned veal wrapped in caul fat, which makes it juicy and flavorful, on a bed of what I overhear being described as Russian kale. Or something like that. On the side is a pool of mustard-scented aïoli. The chef seems to like aïoli, lucky me. (I could eat his saffron aïoli with a spoon).

When the dessert menu arrives, I dither until D. nudges me towards the rhubarb cobbler. While I have never really loved fruit cobblers, I do like rhubarb and ginger. It is very gently fragrant with the ginger, and served hot under a dollop of cool crême fraîche, just a bit tart against the sweet crunch of the crust. By the time I am finished the dining room is full, and K. is making her rounds. It's time to go home, though, and the walk uphill seems strangely short. Which is good. Cost, after tax: $52. Donation: $15.60. Perhaps I should have ordered another course.

No comments: