Tuesday, October 5, 2010

the art of dining alone. Lark.

I haven't been to Lark in a while. I used to come here once a month, almost religiously. I'd go straight from work in fleece sweats or from home having changed into something slightly more respectable. My life is different now, made up of different circles of friends that nudge together in some places and overlap in others. There are cookbook clubs and Saturday brunches and jaunts up to Vancouver or over to Vashon or strawberry-picking in the Skagit Valley. When we go out to dinner I often find myself in West Seattle or Ballard or Queen Anne, and it feels good to explore different corners of my own city, to find my way in an unfamiliar place. But I miss my neighborhood, and I miss going to Lark, alone. It always feels like home.

L. has often remarked that she gets terrible service when she dines alone, which surprises me. She is very pretty and intimidatingly stylish and I would expect waitstaff to fall all over her, but apparently this is not the case. J., on the other hand, says she projects an aura of "I belong here, bitches." I don't remember those first few times of eating alone at Lark, but I am sure that I did not project that aura of "I belong here, bitches." I might have kept in mind Mary Cantwell's words about keeping my posture straight, my gaze confident while asking for a table for one. They must have been kind, for I kept going back. K., who is one of the owners, would always stop by for a word of greeting.

Anyway, I am here again. It is late when I walk in, and they are surprised (usually I come for dinner very early). I chat with my server, M., and collapse gratefully and ungracefully in the corner booth, order the foie gras and one of the night's specials, a poached duck egg. I eat far too much bread and butter (and what wonderful bread and butter it is) because lunch was ages ago and suddenly, I'm starving. My poached duck egg arrives, floating in broth on a raft of toast and a tangle of braised chard, covered in cheese shavings that melt slowly as I eat. The yolk is molten gold, and I am torn between eating it all quickly, before it gets cold, and savoring every last bite, slowly.

The foie gras, too, is perfect, seared and served on a crispy pig's trotter cake, with a few stray bits of crispy trotter (there are few phrases more delightful than "crispy pig trotter") sprinkled around. There is a pool of tangy-sweet peach puree, slices of pickled peaches that send shocks through the rich haze of the foie and trotter cake, and a few green curls of mizuna so you can pretend you had some vegetables. It is exactly what I wanted. No dessert tonight, no need for it. I am happy when I head up the hill towards home.

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