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Lark’s Johnathan Sundstrom Knows Good Food

Lark’s Johnathan Sundstrom Knows Good Food

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This chef has taken his expertise all over the world before taking control of Seattle's restaurant scene

Lark Restaurant, one of the hottest restaurants in Seattle, is home to executive chef, Johnathan Sundstrom. Originally from Salt Lake City, Sundstrom first received his culinary training in a traditional Japanese restaurant and sushi bar before formally studying the culinary arts at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont.

After graduating with honors, he went on to work at some of the best hotel restaurants in the country: Laguna Niguel at the Ritz-Carlton, Club XIX at the Lodge at Pebble Beach, and the Stein Ericksen Lodge. Sundstrom then toured New York and San Francisco’s finest kitchens with acclaimed chefs Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongericheten.

After coming to Seattle with a new sense of purpose and culinary understanding, Sundstrom worked at Raison d’être Café, where he first established contacts with local farmers. Then he joined Dahlia Lounge’s team where he was promoted to sous chef after just one year, and then executive chef the next year. Finally, before Lark, he took the top spot at the former Earth & Ocean and earned Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef for 2001.

Upon opening Lark in 2003, he began focusing on his culinary artistry, and has perfected it, making him one of the most renowned chefs in Seattle. He has been awarded Rising Stars Chef Award for 2003, and nominated as Best Chef Northwest by the James Beard Foundation in 2005 and 2006 before officially winning in 2007. His culinary style can be found in Lark’s fan-favorite dishes, such as the crispy Liberty Farm duck leg served with baby artichokes and green chickpeas, squab served with bacon, morel mushrooms and thyme, and roasted eel with saba and potato salad.

Taking A Deep Dive Into Some Of Seattle's Most Spectacular Seafood Dishes

It's no shocker that Seattle is one of the best cities to eat seafood. The Northwest city on Puget Sound enjoys fresh catches such as wild salmon and halibut from Alaska, and tons of fish caught and shellfish raised closer to home. Here are 11 stellar dishes that showcase the mad skills of the Seattle chefs who make all sorts of seafood shine.

The crab cakes are spectacular at this Tom Douglas restaurant near Pike Place Market.

Dungeness Crab Cakes at Etta's

Chef Tom Douglas made a big splash when he introduced East Coast-style crab cakes to the city shortly after the Delaware native arrived in the 1970s. He and his vast team are still killing that dish at flagship Dahlia Lounge, and Etta's, where the set changes often. Don't miss the latest creation, where those cakes are perched on a savory crab bisque, sharing a bowl with blue potato, corona beans, bacon from Bavarian Meats and king oyster mushrooms.

Lark's chef/owner Johnathan Sundstrom is king of seasonal salmon creations.

James Beard Award-winning chef John Sundstrom has a gift when it comes to the Northwest's signature seafood, pioneering the seared skin preparation way back when. (Try it! You'll like it!) He was also leader of the pack in featuring Neah Bay "marbled" salmon caught off the Olympic Peninsula coast. This fish has a lighter colored flesh, but is remarkably rich and buttery. It's a welcome sign of spring, and will be available soon.

No Anchor Bar's beer-friendly lineup includes a standout smoked trout spread.

No Anchor Bar's Smoked Trout Spread

What snacks go best with the incredible lineup of craft beer at this fun bar in Belltown? The kitchen cooks up a bunch of clever bites that'll make that pint taste even better. While the pickled mussels and the Dungeness crab roll are fab, it's the smoked trout spread on sourdough-rye toast that keeps us coming back for more.

RockCreek's menu is stuffed with excellent seafood options, including the fried oyster Benedict at . [+] brunch.

Fried Oysters Benedict at RockCreek

You truly cannot go wrong at chef Eric Donnelly's place, named for his favorite fishing hole in Montana. Oyster lovers should plan on coming in for weekend brunch and the ultra-rich version of the classic Benedict. Fried oysters are the star of this dish while strips of crispy bacon play a supporting role, smothered in a vibrant citrus hollandaise sauce. Start the meal with a Baller Bloody Mary, topped with shrimp and an oyster on the half shell.

Aerlume's kitchen gets an A for its scallop-searing skills.

Aerlume's Seared Scallops

This lovely new spot near Pike Place Market debuted with a knockout menu starring King salmon gravlax, halibut ceviche, grilled octopus nestled against some brilliant green hummus and truly magnificent sea scallops. These sweet morsels are seared in a cast iron skillet, turning a deep shade of gold. Your server might say these large plates are suitable for passing around, but you're probably not going to want to share the succulent scallops.

Hawaiian-style poke is a big deal in this seafood-loving city, and Go Poke in the International . [+] District gets its right.

Custom Bowls at goPoke

In a city stuffed with poke possibilities, this sweet shop in the International District gets bonus points for having the direct connection to family fishing boats in Hawaii. So that means their ahi and tako (octopus) are island fresh. The signature poke bowls and "pokerritos" are amazing, but adventurous eaters should definitely create their own combo from the long list of topping options: fried garlic, shallots, furikake and more. In keeping with the aloha spirit, they serve Kona Lager and Dole Whip.

Pike Place Fish in the historic Pike Place Market serves seafood cocktails, and lets customers try . [+] oysters before they buy.

Seafood Cocktails at Pike Place Fish

Yes, most visitors to the city know this as the famous fish-throwing landmark, but it's so much more than a good spot to snap a photo. Step right up and talk to the savvy, kinda salty crew about the extensive selection and order up a crab cocktail, or ask for a sample of one of the oysters before you make a purchase. The entertaining fish mongers are happy to ship it, or pack up your catch for the plane ride home.

Every meal at White Swan Pub should begin with the seafood-topped deviled eggs.

Deviled Eggs at White Swan Pub

Who knew deviled eggs made such a terrific platform for fish? The team at White Swan Pub's big sister restaurant, Matt's in the Market, that's who's been wowing diners for years with those seriously delicious starters. This cozy venue on Lake Union is packed when the sun's out, more mellow when the skies are gray. No matter what the weather, those exceptional eggs make every day a little brighter.

Elliott's executive chef Robert Spaulding does an amazing job of standing back and letting the . [+] pristine ingredients like Dungeness crab legs be the star of a dish.

Dungeness Crab at Elliott's Oyster House

Elliott's Oyster House sits over the water on Pier 56, and is often jammed with out-of-towners, pushing it off the radar of many food-obsessed locals. That's a shame because chef Robert Spaulding's seasonal specials are some of the most impressive in the city. Just get a load of that Neah Bay halibut, basted in l emon-herb butter, and served alongside Yukon potato hash, spiced chickpeas, nettle pistou and crispy prosciutto. Every meal should begin with some oysters and an of Dungeness crab legs. So sweet and tender and tasting of the sea.

Matt's in the Market does everything so well, especially this impressive catfish sandwich on the . [+] lunch menu.

Matt's in the Market's Catfish Sandwich

Cornmeal-crusted and pan-fried this Southern staple gets a fresh mighty finish in between sambal-mayo-smeared Macrina Bakery potato bread, shredded romaine adding some additional crunch. This lunch menu staple comes with soup or salad on the side, and the kitchen's going to come through no matter which direction you go. (But the soup's always spectacular.)

Rachel Yang's wood-fire grilled trout at Revel is exceptional.

This popular spot located in South Lake Union is beloved for its modern approach to Korean classics with Northwest ingredients. Think savory oyster pancakes and Dungeness crab noodles and albacore tuna bowls. A beautifully butterflied trout lands on its Grill Shack section of the menu, the wood fire crisping up the skin. A spicy chimichurri sauce on top complements the farm-raised fish rather than overwhelming it. Cool off with one of the rotating flavors of housemade shrubs.

Experiments with Ham Powder

W hat do you do once you win a James Beard Award? Is it kick-back-and-enjoy-the-ride time, or an opportunity to take even bigger risks? To find out, we caught up with Johnathan Sundstrom, whose work at Lark, an earthy Seattle neighborhood restaurant, won him 2007’s Best Chef: Northwest in May. At Lark, he cooks dishes atypical for the region (salmon, in other words, often takes a back seat), like roasted baby carrots with Italian sunflower honey, and duck egg omelet with Serrano ham and piquillo peppers. Sundstrom’s branching out further with Licorous, a late-night cocktail and small bites lounge he opened last year as a way to handle the overflow of Lark.

Between running two restaurants (luckily, they’re next door to each other) and preparing for an event for 800 people, Sundstrom managed to talk a little shop with CHOW. He dished on how winning the James Beard Award changes things, what he cooks when he wants to impress a mentor chef, and his newest invention: ham powder.

There are six different categories on Lark’s menu: cheese, vegetable/grains, charcuterie, fish, meat, and desserts. What’s the easiest one for you to tweak?

Cheese is really easy because we’re trying to work with a lot of different people. Like this week, we have this bittersweet Evangeline, a really great little goat cheese from Louisiana. We were only able to get 15 of them, so those’ll be gone by the time we change our menu next Thursday.

But is there one category that’s easiest for you to change because of your natural affinity for it?

Not necessarily. My sous-chef and some of the cooks in the kitchen who are very talented, we’ll sit down and talk about things every night. We usually have a little meeting at the end of the night, just to say, “How did everything go?”

What was the meeting like last night?

We talked about a group of 14 coming in tonight. They’re good friends from the Oystercatcher [restaurant] on Whidbey Island, and [include] Susan Vanderbeek, the godmother of a lot of chefs in Seattle. She was, if not the opening chef, then nearly the opening chef of [Café] Campagne, and lots of talented people came out of the kitchen after working for her.

So what are you planning for her?

Well, we know it’s a special occasion because she will be retiring within six months or a year, so we [thought], “We need to do something really great.” We have just enough scallops in-house left over from our special last night, so we’ll do seared scallops with corn, peas, and a little lobster emulsion sauce. We have just enough orders of our abalone dish to give to that party. We’re putting together a rabbit loin, bacon-wrapped, probably with lobster mushrooms. Have you ever had those? They’re really great—bright coral-colored mushrooms, and they just started. When you get to the very beginning of a season, everyone’s superexcited to use the newest thing.

What’s the newest thing on the menu?

We actually changed several dishes entirely last week.

Oh, let’s see. It’s funny, with two restaurants and a three-year-old, last week seems so long ago to me. And I’m also getting ready for the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Oregon, just south of Portland. We’ve been invited to go there and cook for 800 people. I have 350 squab coming in on Tuesday, cases of mushrooms, cases of corn, so I’ve got a lot in my head right now.

How did you come up with that course?

It’s a very discerning crowd they love to travel, they love great wine and great food, so we wanted to do something that would be special and impressive. We chose squab because most of the dinner is paired with Pinot Noir, and I just felt that that would be a good match. And because it’s summer, we’re doing a corn and sweet onion relish on the side, and a little teeny corn cake, [along with] a morel confit. I found a [morel mushroom] forager who drives for three hours and hikes in four hours and packs out 70 pounds. So they’re very fresh, and someone worked hard for them.

Now that you’ve won the James Beard Awards, what has changed for you?

A lot of times people will say, “We read about you, and we’re coming because you’re doing great things.” So of course we don’t want to disappoint. I would say that yeah, we feel more than ever that we gotta be on our game, really pushing hard to do a good job. We’re already seeing a little bump in our summer business, and we’re getting even more calls and invitations to go places and do things.

Is there any cross-pollination that occurs between your restaurants—say, with an idea that starts at Licorous and winds up at Lark?

Yeah, definitely. We decided that Licorous would be a little more playful and international in style. I almost think of it as a place to test things out—maybe we’ll try a new technique or do something that’s a little edgier, and if it works and we like it, then maybe when it’s run its course at Licorous we can do it at Lark.

For example?

We were doing a ham powder. After you’ve sliced the whole leg of Serrano or prosciutto, you always have some pieces that are hard to use up. Sometimes we can dice it and put it in a stuffing or make a stock out of it, but you can also dehydrate it and then grind it up and use it as is or mix it with salt. We were doing something with that at Licorous last summer, and now we’ve adopted it at both restaurants as this great little condiment.

It’s great with just barely warm asparagus, and we were [using it with] poached eggs, or a soft-boiled egg. A little sprinkling of the Serrano ham powder gives it this meaty richness—not like a slice of Serrano, just this meaty hint. My sous-chef there, Aleks Dimitrijevic, he’s worked in some really great places, and definitely some edgier places [like Mugaritz in Spain], so we’re learning some good techniques from him.

Are you interested in anyone else’s cooking right now? Or have any new favorite cookbooks?

I always have a strong interest in Japanese food that was one of my first jobs. There’s a book that’s been out for a few years, the Shunju cookbook. It’s a restaurant in Tokyo, but the book itself is great—it has incredible photos—and there’s a picture of this feast that the restaurant does in the spring right before the bamboo shoots pop up. They actually get their whole restaurant crew to go out and harvest them in the forest, because you need to pick them and eat them that day. So what they started to do is bring the restaurant to the forest. They set up a table for 20 and have this whole menu based on bamboo shoots that they pick and serve within a few hours. To me, that’s just such a great ideal to work toward someday—to be able to be that connected to your food source is amazing.

We Need to Stop Caring

That doesn’t mean we stop trying to achieve our goals or striving for personal growth. It just means that we no longer base our happiness on fleeting, semi-permanent things.

There are obviously some situations where not caring may have serious negative consequences (see paying your rent). Excessive caring, however, is likely to make you miserable.

The reason caring too much can be detrimental to your health, is you’re so focused on the future. Your identity is too attached to outcomes. If something does, or doesn’t go your way, it will likely have an enduring effect on your mood for the rest of the day.

Instead, we should base our happiness on permanent things. Things that don’t change. Desires that don’t shift from moment to moment. We choose to find our happiness in living. In life itself. In fact, we don’t even need to “find” happiness. We can be happiness.

So stop searching. You can’t find something that’s already there.

North America

Everyone loves a good sarnie, especially ones piled with worldly (aka chichi), fresh, artisan ingredients including English cucumber, German pickles, and Fourme d’Ambert blue cheese—precisely the kind of sarnie available at this tiny Belltown sandwich shop. Owners Jessica Prince and Alisa Mann craft lunchtime goodies, many of them starring the avocado—otherwise known as an alligator pear. Get the No. 1, Prince’s fave, with roasted turkey, New Mexican green chiles, sharp white cheddar, mayo, and some of that creamy alligator pear, all layered on a roll and grilled. Note to big eaters: Some sandwiches, such as the vegetarian, are a bit small. If you’ve got a monster appetite, order a supplemental cup of soup (selections change daily the chicken noodle is pure comfort) or a cookie for dessert. MOLLY LORI

Serves: lunch. 2523 Fifth Ave., 206-728-5897. BELLTOWN $

Cafe Flora continues its long reign as Seattle’s best vegetarian restaurant. The quality of its food has not flagged since it opened in 1991. The kitchen keeps putting out imaginative haute cuisine without dead animals, like the Oaxaca tacos (who knew mashed potatoes would taste so good stuffed in a corn tortilla?), sage polenta (grilled cornmeal cakes with roasted vegetables, pomegranate molasses, and fig balsamic reduction), and portabello Wellington (grilled ‘shrooms, leeks, and other delightful things enhanced by a Madeira wine sauce and sitting in a puff pastry). Even though the menu sounds hoity-toity, the atmosphere is unpretentious. If you are lucky enough to be seated in the glassed-in patio with the bubbling fountain, all your senses will enjoy the evening. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.

Serves: weekend brunch, lunch, and dinner. 2901 E. Madison St., 206-325-9100. MADISON PARK $-$

Saveur magazine recently named the Original Canlis Salad one of the 100 best dishes in America. It’s the mint that really puts it over the edge. The other ingredients are crisp romaine lettuce, equally crisp bacon, sultry Romano cheese, oregano, and a lemony olive oil dressing made with lightly cooked egg. The salad is 10 bucks, which I point out because people tend to think that Canlis is for millionaires. (It is indeed for people with sports coats, but if you haven’t got one, they’ll spot you one for the evening.) I’m not telling you that Canlis is a bargain basement in the sky, but all things considered, some small plates and a couple of cocktails—and an hour’s worth of 󈨊s classics from the piano player/singer—in the lounge add up to an excellent deal. Bottom line: Canlis is among the top three splurge-worthy joints in town. You will not get better service anywhere, and the mostly Northwest-sourced food sits exquisitely between inventive and scientific. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: dinner. 2576 Aurora Ave. N., 206-283-3313. QUEEN ANNE $$


It’s like a Cinderella story: If you focus on the gussied-up, two-story Belltown sister in the Casuelita family, you might miss the real princess secreted away in the Judkins area. Thing is, the fabulous Caribbean menu’s almost the same at both, albeit the Judkins restaurant is booze-free. (But does your Belltown waitress have intricately hand-painted psychedelic fingernails?) The atmosphere is neighborly and casual at Island Soul, but you’re still guaranteed the best cornbread in the city—almost like coconut cake, really—and jerk chicken and plantain tostones that will make you want to move to the Dominican Republic. SARA NIEGOWSKI

Serves: lunch and dinner. 2608 S. Judkins St., 206-329-1202. JUDKINS PARK. 81 Vine St., 206-770-0155. BELLTOWN $-$

Crave seems like a 1950s luncheonette because it’s small, street-facing, and everyone seems to know one another—and also because of the counters, which are underneath two perpendicular open windows through which you can watch the fry cooks. But instead of gristly, greasy burgers or cheap cheese melted between slices of white bread, those cooks are preparing crab melts made with fontina cheese and a tangy, zesty remoulade, and their grilled cheeses include New York’s best sharp cheddar, crisp apple slices, and maple-dijon mustard on sourdough. At dinnertime, the pork chop comes with braised greens in a port glaze, and the closest thing to mac and cheese is goat cheese gnocchi. (If you’d rather, there’s duck confit with savory bread pudding.) The real kicker is that chef-owner Robin Leventhal serves only organic, free-range, grain-fed meats, and the components of her dishes are either made in-house or procured from regional artisans. When you think about it, that’s pretty old-fashioned, too. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 1621 12th Ave., 206-388-0526. CAPITOL HILL $-$

Eating at the bar is always a great idea, especially when you’re at Crow. Now that it’s settled into the neighborhood and the crushing throngs of diners have streamlined themselves into a more navigable steady flow, it isn’t necessarily a necessity, but it’s still a fine idea. You can choose between the booze bar in the front and the kitchen bar in the back either way, you get the sense that you’re on the front lines of Northwest cuisine and cocktails. My only beef: Crow needs a Web site. Seriously, the menu changes often, and I need to be able to log on and, at the very least, pretend that I’m watching the cooks prepare the season’s freshest seafood and produce. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: dinner. 823 Fifth Ave. N., 206-283-8800. UPTOWN $

Because this restaurant is in a quaint house, you might expect needlepoint pillows, loads of knickknacks (an animal salt-and-pepper-shaker collection, perhaps), and a cutesy “kountry kitchen” type of feel. We thank our lucky stars that supersleek Crush offers exactly the opposite vibe. Its mod white-on-white anti-color scheme and matte Verner Panton “S” chairs make you think you’re in L.A. From the kitchen, chef Jason Wilson, an alum of Aqua in San Francisco, serves up fresh, inventive dishes such as stinging nettle and Penn Cove mussel stew with chorizo and saffron. The menu changes frequently, so you’ll want to come quarterly at least. Oh, and don’t wear a turtleneck/cardigan combo here—this place has sex appeal. MOLLY LORI

Serves: dinner. 2319 E. Madison St., 206-302-7874. MADISON VALLEY $-$$

I don’t want to put too much stock in the fact that Dandelion is a female-run operation—no, wait, I do. The vibe at Dandelion is inclusive and familial. You’re allowed to ask questions—dumb ones, smart ones, challenging ones. You’re allowed to watch. You’re allowed to hover around the kitchen and take notes (just don’t get in the way while dinner is moving and shaking). You’re going to be remembered when you come back, and you’re going to be rewarded if you make Dandelion a habit—and I wouldn’t be surprised if that “reward” involved a quick turn at the grill. (Confidential to the Health Department: I’m just kidding!) Owner Carol Nockold, chef Zephyr Paquette, and the rest of the crew have created an energy that feels co-op-ish, but not in a weird, creepy way. Cementing that mood is, of course, the food. Sourced rigorously from local, mostly organic purveyors and then prepared with extremely high regard for what the ingredients naturally taste like, their signature rosemary chicken dish and the seasonal menu items might make a person actually want to move to Monroe and live on a communal farm. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: dinner. 5809 24th Ave. N.W., 206-706-8088. BALLARD $

Dinette almost makes me want to be single again, and to live on Capitol Hill again, because it’s just such a perfect place to fall in like and then in love. The room itself is romantic the gold leafing sends the candlelight bouncing in every direction, and the soft blue-green walls and rough hardwood floors remind you that the perfect person is both sensitive and resilient. On select Thursdays, when Casey McGill and the Blue Four Trio play 󈧢s-era swing and jazz, Dinette takes on an energy that I’ve never felt before, probably because I was born 40 years too late. And the food: Seasonally appropriate pot pies, made with decadent pastry shells, are common—but totally uncommon. Pastas, too, often include a twist (recently, lentils) that render them wonderfully anomalous. Another plus, lead server Talon won’t make you, or your guests, feel like a dork if you need help selecting a bottle of wine. As perfect as it is for romance, Dinette is just as great for friends call ahead and make reservations for your best friend’s birthday. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: dinner. 1514 E. Olive Way, 206-328-2282. CAPITOL HILL $


Celebrating its 13th year as the queen of Madrona’s little restaurant strip, Dulce’s hasn’t fiddled with its formula for success: fine, fragrant Latin- and Mexican-inspired dishes from Julie Guerrero’s kitchen and amazingly varied wines from Carlos Kainz’s enormous, Canlis-challenging cellar. This is the kind of place with a barely varying menu, so be sure to get the advice of your server (or the chef) about what’s at its very best right now you may get your main dish customized to the season. And don’t be daunted by the sheer size of the wine list. Just tell Carlos how much you want to spend on a bottle that goes with your order, and he will astonish you. ROGER DOWNEY


Hotel restaurants rarely manifest distinct personalities, so a hotel restaurant that consistently takes an individual route to tickling the curiosity and pleasing the palates of its patrons deserves special credit. Don’t let the restaurant’s name lead you to expect surf ‘n’ turf. Salads are a solid standout, and chef Maria Hines plays with the seafood-earthfood dichotomy like a virtuoso, pushing the envelope of the expected while providing knockout satisfaction without fancying up the food. (Hence, her recent invitation to cook at the James Beard House.) The showbiz department at Earth & Ocean is reserved for dessert, with chef Sue McCown whipping up eye-dazzling constructions with comic names that are downright fun to eat. ROGER DOWNEY

Serves: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 1112 Fourth Ave., 206-264-6060. DOWNTOWN $-$$


Proof that Italian grandmas aren’t the only grandmas who make great meat sauce: Bubbie’s Bolognese at this West Seattle nook owned by Evan Handler and Toby Matasar. Over plump shell pasta, Bubbie’s sauce is hearty, chunky, and just ever so slightly restrained (you’ll probably salt it a little). Proof, on the other hand, that East Coast kosher butchers do make the best corned beef: the Market Reuben. The butcher in question is Handler, Bubbie is his grandmother, Matasar is responsible for the incredible desserts and baked goods. Some people are put off by the cafe’s atmosphere (or lack, they say, thereof). If you find the space hinders your ability to enjoy the chicken soup with matzo balls or the homemade and highly addictive ice-cream sandwiches, call ahead and arrange for takeout the staff does a great job of making it neat and easy for you to do so. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: brunch and dinner. 2600 S.W. Barton St., 206-933-1200. WEST SEATTLE $-$

First this Beacon Hill storefront housed a cheap Japanese spot, and then a cheap Vietnamese joint, and now it’s a cheap Mexican restaurant. But El Quetzal’s menu is not your typical cheap Mexicali mix of beans, rice, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. Yes, you can get a $1.50 taco with a double flour tortilla, but you can also order an enormous, overstuffed sandwich filled with flank steak, Mexican sausage, or scrambled eggs or a Gigante Huarache—a sort of Mexican pizza, with your choice of meat or egg or cactus toppings, artfully arranged on a sandal-shaped corn-dough crust. The proprietors say the style of cooking is straight from the streets of Mexico City, but whatever its origin, it’s all delicious. The salsa is muy picante, service is equally warm, and need we mention . . . ? The prices on the menu top out at $10. LYNN JACOBSON

Serves: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 3209 Beacon Ave. S., 206-329-2970. BEACON HILL $

In every cuisine, there are certain benchmarks. My idea of the perfect quick-serve Mexican restaurant must have (1) sublime carnitas, (2) crispy and substantial sopes (superthick tortillas), (3) menudo (kinda like pozole, but with feet! and tripe!), and (4) homemade flan. All this just puts them on my radar. El Rincon may be a converted school bus with only 12 chairs, but it’s a giant of a restaurant. The slow-cooked pork tacos get a last-minute flat grill treatment to add texture to their cumin-spiced goodness. Toasted enriched white bread buns filled with crema, avocado, jalapeño, and your favorite meat make for a mean and filling $3 torta. And the freakishly moist pollo asado is an entrée I would pay $12 to eat. Alas, it only costs a Lincoln. Everything is muy auténtico, and ending with the flan brings you close to renouncing citizenship. MAGGIE DUTTON

Serves: lunch and dinner. Southwest 112th Street and 16th Avenue Southwest, no phone. WHITE CENTER $


Life is indeed grape at Eva, a Northwesty neighborhood eatery with an internationally influenced menu. Dried grapevines, enlivened with strings of white lights, snake around the cozy dining area, and a grapevine logo decorates the menu. These cues get you thinking that a selection from the well-edited wine list would really hit the spot. Order up a glass of grenache and then something from the “Firsts” menu—we highly suggest the Cabrales flan, served with pear relish and a walnut crisp, and the sweet potato and ginger bisque with peanut sambal. Many rave about Eva’s rabbit dishes why not see if the menu’s roasted rabbit loin entrée with chorizo bread pudding and sherry jus makes you hoppy? In the date-friendly dining room, tables are well monitored (you’ll never have to ask for more water), and the staff is warm and patient (after all, they get asked about Aunt Voula’s taramasalata, a Greek dip made with carp roe, olive oil, and bread, on a nightly basis). If you can’t score one of the few tables there, head to the adjacent bar area, where a superb bar menu—with upscale bites like lamb burgers—awaits. MOLLY LORI

Serves: dinner. 2227 N. 56th St., 206-633-3538. WALLINGFORD $

Chefs must love leaving their regular kitchens from time to time to work with the homeless and formerly homeless student chefs and service-industry pros at FareStart. Diners certainly love it Crush chef Jason Wilson’s dinner, scheduled for the end of May, has been sold out since just after it was announced. At FareStart, you have the opportunity to help foster growth and change while enjoying the cooking—three courses’ worth—of Seattle’s most respected chefs for just $19.95. So much growth has been fostered, in fact, that FareStart is closing in on its goal of raising $8 million for its new location in South Lake Union. When (not if) they move in, they’ll also be celebrating 15 years of excellent food and opportunities. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: lunch and dinner. 1902 Second Ave., 206-267-6210. BELLTOWN $-$


There was a minute there—when was it, 2002?—when it felt like Flying Fish had fallen out of favor. Folks I knew dismissed it as a tourist spot, and acted as though they’d become—gasp—Eastsiders just walking past. It seems like that nonsense is, thankfully, over, and the dining crowds are once again recognizing that Chris Keff is tireless in her pursuit of fresh, eco-friendly, incredibly delicious fish and produce. While she was one of the first chefs in town to go totally organic and among the first to go (almost) totally local, Keff and her kitchen can’t be praised without calling out the exotic Asian ingredients she scores (I’m still not over the satsuma potatoes I raved about last year), nor the preparations she borrows. If you go with a group, get the whole fried rockfish from the “platters” menu. Your rockfish will indeed be fried and whole, and you’ll receive rice papers and, get this, pineapple-anchovy dipping sauce to enjoy it with. It’s interactive eating, and it’s fantastic. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: lunch and dinner. 2234 First Ave., 206-728-8595. BELLTOWN $

This new New American neighborhood restaurant is a great home for your favorite dish, because depending on what becomes available, menu items change ever so slightly from one night to the next—not a lot, but just enough to keep you really interested. For instance, the “faux fish and chips” might consist of halibut and fingerlings on one visit, seared striped bass and nouveau home fries made with duck fat on the next. It’s fun—and at Fork, pretty delicious—to be kept guessing. To that end, and to take advantage of seasonal specialties and nifty food science, Scott Simpson’s menu changes almost completely every so often as well. Recently added to the appetizer menu: General Tso’s sweetbreads (sweet and spicy glazed veal organs), an example of Simpson’s signature blend of levity and luxury. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: dinner. 806 E. Roy St., 206-325-7400. CAPITOL HILL $


When I moved here from the San Francisco Bay Area, I knew I’d love Seattle for its incredible coffee culture, but I had no idea I’d be so taken with its delish vegetarian and vegan scene. With its wonderful menu and raw Seattle energy (no frills, a bit quirky, but total quality), my fast favorite became the Globe. Even carnivores relish the kitchen’s gyro sandwiches, made with grilled tofu, sumac, onions, and tahini the legendary biscuits and gravy and the savory scrambled tofu with vegetables. (And be sure to check the board for specials you wouldn’t want to miss the veggie pot pie.) Order at the counter and then settle among your eco-friendly neighbors. After eating at the Globe, you’ll realize all the national food mags have it wrong—they should be raving about Seattle’s vegan food instead of its overhyped salmon. MOLLY LORI

Serves: breakfast and lunch. 1531 14th Ave., 206-324-8815. CAPITOL HILL $


Lines of anxious, hungry patrons often spill onto the street around lunchtime outside Harvey’s Tavern on Leary Way. One problem: Those lines are for brunch at the Dish, which sits next door to owner Audrey Grant’s 31-year-old pizza-and-pitcher dispensary. While Grant does a fair amount of takeout, her restaurant’s spartan interior remains largely devoid of in-house patrons until sunset, at which point a loyal group of regulars—most of whom work at a postal warehouse down the street—sidle up to the bar for a little Vitamin R (as in Rainier). But, oh, the pie: Piled high with sausages the size of pool balls, droopy cheese, and more black olives than you can count, Harvey’s house special defies categorization in the pizza lexicon. Discovering it is like taking a metal detector to a rocky beach on an overcast day and unearthing buried treasure. MIKE SEELY

Serves: lunch and dinner. 4356 Leary Way N.W., 206-782-9799. FREMONT $


Not too long ago, Hattie’s Hat was regarded as a dingy Ballard Avenue “bar bar” that catered almost exclusively to a crusty cadre of daylight drunks. Food took a backseat to rail liquor, and youngsters shied away. Still, there was a charm beneath this layer of grit, which owners Kyla Fairchild, Ron Wilkowski, and Dan Cowan wisely preserved after buying and spit shining the joint in 1996. Gradually, they smartened up the jukebox and hipsters supplanted yellow-haired lushes at the circa-1904 mahogany bar. Most recently, the owners have widened the booths near the entrance, installed a giant fish tank in Hattie’s rear dining room, and revamped the menu. Sushi, however, has not replaced the Hat’s famous country fried chicken as the down-home menu’s most inviting dish. Hattie’s still fits like your favorite snap-button flannel and serves as the de facto preconcert fueling station for the neighboring Tractor Tavern’s always stellar lineup of Americana’s who’s who. MIKE SEELY

Serves: weekend brunch and dinner. 5231 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-784-0175. BALLARD $

Here’s the thing: I pay $35 for a big ol’ filet mignon at JaK’s. To get my same meat fix at the Met or El Gaucho, it’d cost $50 or $54, respectively. Granted, I’ve never conducted an official side-by-(juicy)-side taste test between this somewhat humbler steak house and its stuffier competitors, but I know JaK’s aged, corn-fed Nebraska beef tastes good. With my extra $15, I can get a candied-walnut salad, warm sourdough bread, garlic mashed potatoes, and seasonal veggies—oh, wait, those are already included, so I pocket the cash. Admittedly, I need French onion soup and chateaubriand sometimes but when my blue jeans and I just hanker for super steak (or even a burger), JaK’s fits the bill. Literally. SARA NIEGOWSKI

Serves: dinner. 3701 N.E. 45th St., 206-985-8545. LAURELHURST. 4548 California Ave. S.W., 206-937-7809. WEST SEATTLE. 14 Front St. N., 425-837-8834. ISSAQUAH $


There’s usually an energetic mezcla, or mix, of people slurping soup and eating fish tacos at this Ballard favorite. As soon as the place opens (5 p.m.), families with small children show up—it seems La Carta’s soft, homemade corn tortillas are kid tested, mother approved. Next, you get a handful of social Latin American men for happy hour (the tequila selection is top-notch), and then couples and groups of friends arrive by 7 and end up waiting ages for a table. Once you’re seated in the small, black-and-white-photograph-bedecked space (most photographs are of Oaxacans), order the chips and fresh guac, but don’t fill up because you’ll want to try some of these options: fish soup, enchiladas, and pretty much anything with mole sauce. The portions are small plates, so it’s best to get a few and share—an annoyingly overused concept, but we’ll excuse La Carta because it’s hard to stay mad at such a charismatic charmer. MOLLY LORI

Serves: dinner. 5431 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-782-8722. BALLARD $-$

The Belltown legend’s sense of style isn’t evident at first—the L-shaped dining room is lit warmly enough, but certainly not sexily, and the atmosphere can seem a mite stiff. But then the menus arrive, and you realize why you’re here. Nowhere else in town does it feel so much like you’re eating art. Recently on offer were a gorgeous stripe of sashimi-grade hamachi dotted with mussels, morsels of crabmeat, and oysters on the half shell a steaklike piece of hen duck, done medium rare, “lacquered” with saba (grape syrup), and served with macerated fruits and, for dessert, the richest, most delectable tapioca pudding imaginable or “ravioli” made of poached pineapple sliced paper-thin and wrapped around fresh raspberries. You hear that chef-owner Scott Carsberg is a minimalist, and the presentation—lots of white space interrupted by geometric bursts of color—supports that claim. But once you’ve eaten your way through the mind-blowing menu—and you can, even on one visit, because Lampreia is not-so-secretly a small-plates restaurant—your senses should feel lavishly satisfied. NEAL SCHINDLER

Serves: dinner. 2400 First Ave., 206-443-3301. BELLTOWN $$

Johnathan Sundstrom’s Capitol Hill buzz magnet is spendy because each dish is small, nudging rather than pushing you toward fullness. Yet Lark’s accessibility might convert you to fine dining. The service is sharp and witty without oozing unearned familiarity. The place resembles one of those gaily lit Santa Barbara barns Miles and Jack visit in Sideways. And whether you call Lark’s dishes tapas or small plates, they’re nothing less than exquisite. Light yet flavorful, a salad of blood orange, endive, and hazelnuts with Roquefort vinaigrette awakens the palate without compromising the appetite. The yellowtail carpaccio’s North African accents—preserved lemon and green olives—manage to bring out the delicate flavor of the fish rather than smothering it. Even a simple plate of sautéed mushrooms with garlic, olive oil, and sea salt shines. Sundstrom uses local ingredients to exotic effect, and Lark takes the edge off the fanciness with an atmosphere of old-fashioned, festive warmth. NEAL SCHINDLER

Serves: dinner. 926 12th Ave., 206-323-5275. CAPITOL HILL $$


Among the eclectic types who turn out on Tuesday nights at this Columbia City joint, there’s always someone I recognize from the neighborhood, including my daughter’s piano teacher. Lottie’s Lounge is that kind of low-key, funky neighborhood place. Except that my daughter’s piano teacher is the nationally known composer and singer Robin Holcomb, who on Tuesday nights performs with her renowned jazz pianist husband, Wayne Horvitz . (The two are taking a break during the month of April.) So Lottie’s feels like a neighborhood joint in, say, New York City’s artsy East Village. The coffee shop turned bar/cafe has recently added a full dinner menu, allowing you to polish off a plate of zesty, caper-studded linguine carbonara as you listen to Horvitz’s dynamic improvisations and Holcomb’s extraordinarily soulful voice, which introduces jazz to Appalachia. Musician friends always seem to drop by, including, on a recent night, a bluegrass duo and a clogger energetically tapping her heels to the beat. The cover charge is a paltry $5. The cosmopolitans are flavorful. The experience is like few others you’ll find in town. NINA SHAPIRO

Serves: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 4900 Rainier Ave. S., 206-725-0519. COLUMBIA CITY $

No, we didn’t misplace this one. Yes, Mashiko’s menu offers plenty in the way of traditional Japanese fare, but we think of it as a very American—and moreover, American neighborhoody—little place. Witness the toddlers eating California rolls, the mob of twentysomething dreadlocks at the bar, the pop-up fly ball soaring across the TV screen, the late-󈨞s grooves on the stereo. Hajime Sato certainly isn’t the only chef in town procuring gorgeous fish, but among sushi chefs, he’s my favorite because he’s created a setting wherein enjoying it isn’t like just being a kid in a candy store, it’s like being a grown-up in a candy store. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: dinner. 4725 California Ave. S.W., 206-935-4339. WEST SEATTLE $


A total of 23 people can eat at Matt’s in the Market at any given time, and that’s including the handful of seats at the counter. Once you get inside—and then especially after your order is put before you—you feel incredibly lucky. In fact, you feel a little giddy, which is why, visiting at lunchtime, you notice that every table is occupied by diners who are either visibly falling in love or visibly about to miss their afternoon meetings. (It doesn’t help—or would that be “hurt”?—that Matt can be awfully convincing when he suggests a glass of sauvignon blanc.) The menu is small—about four main-dish options for lunch and for dinner—but understand that Matt and company are among the most in-the-know Market shoppers, so whatever you order will represent the best of what’s available downstairs, and across the region. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: lunch and dinner. 94 Pike St., Ste. 32, 206-467-7909. PIKE PLACE MARKET $

You know those theme-parky faux-󈧶s restaurant chains, like Johnny Rockets or Mel’s in the Bay Area? The Mecca, a Lower Queen Anne fixture since 1929, is what they all wish they could be. With divey authenticity to burn, and so archetypal it could be an installation in the Smithsonian—”The American Diner, 1920–60″—it’s particularly beloved for its breakfasts. Cozy leatherette booths and round swiveling counter stools, clubgoers eating omelets and chili fries at 3:45 a.m., Little Orphan Annie cartoons and vintage menus on the wall, and no-nonsense waitresses all add to the atmosphere. Sure, go and enjoy those upscale big-white-plate restaurants—but when you need succulently greasy hashbrowns, or a wand-mixed malt, or an open-face turkey sandwich on egg bread topped with an ice-cream scoop of mashed potatoes and a ladleful of gravy, they’ll be at the Mecca waiting for you, God willing, for at least another 77 years. GAVIN BORCHERT

Serves: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 526 Queen Anne Ave. N., 206-285-9728. QUEEN ANNE $


Operated in the same brick building at the base of the Ballard Bridge for over 80 years by a succession of Greek guys named Mike, this institution’s signature dish is called, simply, “Big-Ass Bowl of Chili.” That “ass” appears in this description provides a not-so-subtle clue as to what sort of post-meal havoc Mike’s all-meat, no-beans chili is about to wreak, but it’s so worth it. In fact, screw it—go whole hog and order the beefy brown delicacy over a wiener, patty, or fries whilst enjoying a cold, cheap pitcher of subpremium beer. Just don’t order a grilled cheese sandwich, half-jokingly priced at $53.50 because Mike Jr. loathes making them, for some reason. One thing Mike Jr. doesn’t mind is doling out shots of ouzo, the national liquor of Greece that is best consumed after chanting, “O-U-Z-O . . . OUZO, OUZO, OUZO—GO!” MIKE SEELY

Serves: lunch and dinner. 1447 N.W. Ballard Way, 206-782-2808. BALLARD $

Among the growing number of venerated chef-owned restaurants in town, Nell’s hangs tough as the one where the chef-owner really does circulate kindly and quietly—and nightly, making himself available but not uncomfortably so. Phil Mihalski is, in fact, a lot like his food: humble, sophisticated, and very present. He may well introduce you to new ingredients, but he’ll do so in such a way that you feel like you’re meeting an old friend. I still think about the matsutake mushrooms I had there a few years ago they were new to me at the time, but the very next day I was out shopping for my second serving. Menus change with the seasons, but some dishes are constant. Among them, a Dungeness crab salad, polka-dotted with apples and red radishes, is one of the most beautiful plates in town. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: dinner. 6804 E. Greenlake Dr. N., 206-524-4044. GREEN LAKE $-$$


You can’t get a New York slice of pizza outside of New York. Even Jersey’s pizza isn’t New York pizza. Duh. Nonetheless, I like A New York Pizza Place for trying. While the joint is no longer owned by the Bronx native who opened it, the Midwesterner who bought it didn’t change a thing, although some believe Doug Armatage has improved the service. Moreover, the sauce isn’t bossy, the cheese isn’t pushy, and the crust is thin, floury, and cracks nice and bubbly brown. Toppings range from traditional to not so much try the Lady Liberty if you like pesto, Canadian bacon, and artichokes. Most important, ingredients are natural and fresh you can tell because Whole Foods, PCC, and a few of the smarter QFCs carry Armatage’s frozen pies, which I absolutely love on busy weeknights, and which are made and packaged during the day at the restaurant. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: lunch (Saturday only) and dinner. 8310 Fifth Ave. N.E., 206-524-1355. NORTH SEATTLE $


Like Harvey’s, Northlake pizza doesn’t fit into a convenient little New York– or Chicago-style box. It is a creation unto itself, primarily because Northlake’s proprietors make their own pepperoni from an age-old recipe. What you can say about Northlake pizza is: (a) It’s friggin’ delicious, and (b) bypass surgery is an inherent hazard, what with its meat eaters and logger specials stacked with as much meat as can be cooked in a stainless-steel oven. Yep, toppings are densely packed, so patience is a virtue here. That’s where the “tavern” part comes in handy. Thankfully, the jukebox is good and the confines are reminiscent of a sports den, which makes the Northlake a favorite of Husky fans. MIKE SEELY

Serves: lunch and dinner. 660 N.E. Northlake Way, 206-633-5317. WALLINGFORD $


Loftlike and typically thronged, with big picture windows, cozy little booths and nooks, and a bar elbow-to-elbow with bobos and hipsters, the Palace is like a second living room for the Belltown set. Though the fish dishes are what chef Tom Douglas is most known for, I go there for the Palace Burger, brought on an imposing tiered stand reminiscent of the Westin towers. Such a wealth of perfectly prepared fries, too. Unless you take your beef as red as Uma Thurman does in Pulp Fiction, you might request a more medium sizzle. Nobody serves better bread and olives, and the company is as piquant as the cuisine. TIM APPELO

Serves: dinner. 2030 Fifth Ave., 206-448-2001. DOWNTOWN $-$$

Steel drums pace your steps into the airport and sweet tropics play the mind. (Was that whispered “Smoke . . . Blow” an offer?) Drug-sniffing German shepherds feign disinterest. You sigh at the end of vacation high. Still, you have carryout aromatherapy of sandwiches—midnight Cuban slow-roasted pork, grilled chicken, or prawn (all on a toasted bun with cilantro, seasoned mayo, lettuce, sautéed onions, and jalapeños). The dinners warm your knees through the containers—pulled pork, scallops in red sauce, tofu con gusto (all with black beans, basmati rice, house salad, and corn on the cob). Wait! A uniformed man tries to take your containers, tugging, chanting: No food leaves the island! You tug back. Noooooo! But you’re overpowered . . . you fall . . . and wake from that nightmare. Find comfort at Paseo. Shake hands with the monkey again. JOANNE GARRETT

Serves: lunch and dinner. 4225 Fremont Ave. N., 206-545-7440, FREMONT $


I’m a former barbecue worker from Texas, and I almost didn’t leave my house the other day when the Food Channel was running a show dedicated to the four spots in the U.S. that do the ‘cue up best. I don’t think that any of you will be surprised to learn that Seattle is not on the list. My buddy from North Carolina (another verifiably great barbecue state) and I recently revisited the Pig Iron and gorged on what they do best—sides. The meat is pretty fantastic (the spareribs are tasty the brisket is delish), but it’s the extras that really make this my favorite barbecue in Seattle. Make sure to get the cornbread dressing with gravy, creamed corn, and jalapeño spinach casserole. Pig Iron also serves up the best bottled drinks in town (Bubble Up, Green River, Grape Nehi), and you can even get a “Hard Fountain Soda” made with Big Red and vodka. LACEY SWAIN

Serves: lunch and dinner. 5602 First Ave. S., 206-768-1009. SODO $


Whenever my nose follows the sweet hickory smell to this charismatic little joint, I bring cash and quarters. No credit cards allowed here, and the only soda in the place comes from a Pepsi vending machine. But after 54 years of business, it’s owner Mary Collins-Davis’ prerogative because the meat is still tasty as ever. (Does the name imply anything else?) Nothing beats the pulled-pork sandwich, swimming in mild, medium, or hot barbecue sauce, hugged by soft white bread, and topped with a pickle. From ribs to chicken to sliced beef, everything’s smoked fork- tender. And as much I dig the laid-back Southern hospitality that emanates from the cornbread, homemade curtains, and wood-laminate walls, it’s nothing compared to the sweet-as-potato-pie woman behind the counter who smiles and says: “It’s so good to see you today, hun. If you need anything at all while you’re here, anything at all, you be sure to let us know, OK?” SARA NIEGOWSKI

Serves: lunch and dinner. 1816 E. Yesler Way, 206-322-0271. CENTRAL DISTRICT $


The decor is modern and well composed note the light wood beams and supertall windows. The same can be said for chef Scott Staples’ fresh, seasonal menu. It’s simply divided into “small plates,” “charcuterie,” “soups and salads,” and “fish and meat.” You could eat your way through the plant and animal kingdoms if you choose one dish from each—grilled spicy octopus, Oregon rabbit pâté, parsnip and pear soup, and braised Korobuta pork cheeks. Don’t overlook Zoë’s inventive cocktail menu, part of the reason the bar area packs such a crowd on Friday and Saturday nights. Navigating your way to the bathroom through the weekend mobs can be a touchy experience. MOLLY LORI

Serves: dinner. 2137 Second Ave., 206-256-2060. BELLTOWN $


I guess I do feel a little guilty for lying to my 6-year-old charge and telling him not to worry, “it’s just a quesadilla.” Pupusas aren’t just quesadillas, of course—they aren’t quesadillas at all, but thick, handmade tortillas made with maize flour and filled and fried with the Salvadorian cheese called quesillo and, most deliciously, loroco, an edible flower. (Second place in the most-delicious-filling category goes to ayote, or zucchini, but you might also like beans, pork, or chicken—cheese is a given.) The 6-year-old ate up his heavenly (and yes, slightly heavy) pupusa like a champ, and I rewarded him with some powdery chocolate cookies from the vast and colorful sweets racks. Oh, you can order any number of Salvadorian entrées and side dishes at this jewel of White Center. Any visit now, I resolve to order the deep fried plantains, served with refried beans and sour cream, at breakfast time instead of my beloved pupusas, but try these babies once and you’ll find yourself as addicted to them as I am. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 1719 S.W. Roxbury St., 206-762-4064. WEST SEATTLE $


Eastern religions and cultures believe that food is best when it’s served and prepared with good intent. Nifty concept, huh? I think of that and cringe whenever I hear cooks growling at each other and tossing plates around. And I think of it whenever I’m at Silence Heart Nest, which is as often as possible. Operated by the Sri Chinmoy Center, devotees of a Bangladeshi guru, Silence Heart Nest does have a New Age vibe, but I love it. The menu is vegetarian, with vegan options as well, and includes plenty of vegetarian “meats.” The eggs Benedict are perfect even though the bacon is fake, and the macaroni and cheese is especially incredible if you opt in for the phony sausage. The “meatloaf” sandwich makes me want to move to Fremont. Seriously. Silence Heart Nest also serves some interesting stir-fry curries, and peanut sauce crops up from time to time, but what it feels most like is an American diner with heart—yes, in a quiet, peaceful nest. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: breakfast and lunch. 3508 Fremont Pl. N., 206-633-5169. FREMONT $


By golly, put on that vintage bowling shirt and scoot down to industrial Georgetown for hearty pizzas and Italian-American food at Stellar. Giving off a funky 1950s vibe, the restaurant boasts red-polka-dot light fixtures, plastic yellow chairs, walls decorated with multicolored diamonds, and roomy booths. We usually order pints of Manny’s Pale Ale and humongous calzones and dish about the dreamy, tattooed artist types at the bar, but you could do the same over a generous pie. Pizza options include the Hawaiian Homer, topped with Canadian bacon and pineapple, and a decadent four-cheese pie that your arteries may find cringe-worthy. A groovy extra: There are always free lollipops at the end of the meal. MOLLY LORI

Serves: lunch and dinner. 5513 Airport Way S., 206-763-1660. GEORGETOWN $


Last year, chef Seth Caswell arrived in Phinney Ridge from New York City, which might sound either terribly exciting or terribly terrible, depending. If you were like Caswell, and you valued organic produce, locally raised meats, and wild seafood the way he does, you’d probably be pretty excited. Together with owner Erin Fetridge, Caswell creates a new small menu each week. When I see them, I can’t help but think of an incredibly benevolent off-duty chef opening up his personal kitchen cupboards and asking you what you’d like, knowing that whatever he prepares for you is what he’ll be having as well. As of this writing, Caswell’s offering fresh nettle pasta, new season halibut, and, among a few other items, roasted cauliflower with foraged mushrooms, watercress, and a toasted walnut vinaigrette. Can’t you just imagine a country-starved New Yorker grubbing on that? LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: dinner. 6722 Greenwood Ave. N., 206-784-3535. PHINNEY RIDGE/GREENWOOD $


Step through the door of this Roosevelt neighborhood staple and travel back to a better time: Seattle circa 1977. Here, you can enjoy that quintessential American cuisine, hippie vegetarian, served in complementary surroundings. Enjoy great nut burgers, stir-fries piled with fresh veggies and tofu, the legendary lemon tahini sauce, the unique salad topping of sprouts and seeds, fresh soups made daily, and steak-sized slices of sweet brown bread. Some of the servers may even have been working at the restaurant in the 1970s, although, sadly, they no longer sit down at the table with you to take your order. The tunes are mellow, local artists have shows on the walls, and the vegan cheesecake rocks for dessert. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.

Serves: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 6403 Roosevelt Way N.E., 206-522-9060. ROOSEVELT $

Who do I think I’m fooling? The bus comes at 6:05, and if I’m still crossing t’s and dotting i’s at 6:02, I’m not going to make it. “Well, the old man’s out of town again, and there’s no sense in cooking for one . . . and since I’m already late, I might as well just stop at Union, grab a table in the bar, and see what’s in the risotto or under the truffle oil tonight,” I’ll tell myself. But you and I both know that I dawdle on purpose, and that I relish those 45 minutes between the 6:05 and the 6:50. If you’re one of those people who think, like I did for too long, that you can’t afford chef Ethan Stowell’s expression of Northwest luxury, try missing your bus one evening, and “wasting” some time at the bar, where dishes like perfect house-made rigatoni and decadently rich crab salad are laid elegantly in front of you for about 10 bucks. LAURA CASSIDY

Serves: dinner. 1400 First Ave., 206-838-8000. DOWNTOWN $-$$


For all y’all snobs who consider Thousand Island, bacon bits, and crumbled Goldfish to signal salad hell, consider your match met in the clientele of northeast Seattle’s Wedgwood Broiler. Comfortably ensconced in the red rubber booths, Broiler faithful take their Manhattans up and prime rib rare from a wait staff that favors personable service and hearty USDA portions over taut tummies and in-the-moment Icelandic-Nicaraguan fusion plates. Not that there’s anything wrong with Icelanders or Nicaraguans it’s just good to have a restaurant or two around town where they serve your great-aunt’s favorite brand of Scotch next to a nice plate of liver and onions. Special bonus: The Broiler offers a 72-ounce sirloin dinner challenge rumored to have been completed by Wayne Cody and Wayne Cody only. MIKE SEELY

Serves: lunch and dinner. 8230 35th Ave. N.E., 206-523-1115. WEDGWOOD $

West 5 co-owner Dave Montour told me he and his crew have seen about nine new restaurants pop up around West Seattle since they opened, and that was just back around the turn of the last century. With all the culinary hubbub in these parts, you might think that a menu sporting simple, American, eat-at-the-bar dishes like nachos and mac and cheese might not have staying power. But because the former are topped with salty, delicious cotija and a fantastic ancho chili sauce, and because the latter is from another planet (in a good way)—and furthermore because West 5 has a great retro-future feel and the drinks are actually designed for drinkers—West 5 has all kinds of staying power. Best dish on the menu: roasted corn and green chili tamales. Best retro dish on the menu: the sloppy Joe. LAURA CASSIDY

Follow the Scent of Cranberry ­Ginger Upside ­Down Cakes from Baking at the 20th Century Cafe by Michelle Polzine

Follow the scent of these Cranberry ­Ginger Upside ­Down Cakes from Baking at the 20th Century Cafe 'Iconic European Desserts from Linzer Torte to Honey Cake' (Artisan Books, October 2020) by San Francisco baker extraordinaire Michelle Polzine all the way to the kitchen.

Cranberry-­Ginger Upside-­Down Cakes

These cakes have a warming, homey quality that fits perfectly into the Christmas season. With lots of spice from fresh ginger, bitterness from blackstrap molasses, and brightness from tart cranberries, the cakes produce a smell while baking that will surely put you in the holiday spirit (even if you’re like me and can’t have a Christmas tree because your crazy cats will break all of your antique ornaments). Just the batter baked on its own—without its cranberry-­caramel topper—makes a damn fine cake, and it’s practically healthy with the good amount of iron from the molasses.

Be sure that all the cranberries have popped and deflated before you pour the batter over them if they are not fully popped, the berries will lift from the bed of caramel, up and into the cake. Serve with Meyer Lemon Cream if you like.

Makes 8 to 12 individual cakes, depending on the ramekins you use


4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter

2 cups (210 grams) fresh cranberries

½ cup (118 milliliters) grapeseed or vegetable oil

¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons (222 milliliters) blackstrap molasses

½ cup (118 milliliters) boiling water

One 2½-­ounce (71-gram) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (about ¼ cup)

1¼ cups (150 grams) all-­purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter eight 8-­ounce (237-­milliliter) or twelve 6-­ounce (178-­milliliter) ramekins.

Make the caramel: Heat the sugar in a medium heavy-­bottomed saucepan over medium-­high heat. As the sugar begins to melt at the edges, use a heatproof spatula to pull the melted sugar into the center, then continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the caramel is a deep reddish-­amber color. If at any point it looks grainy or clumpy, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter the mixture will foam vigorously.

Divide the caramel among the ramekins, then top with the ­cranberries. Set the ramekins on a sheet pan and transfer to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cranberries are popped and deflated. Remove from the oven and stab the cranberries with a fork to ensure that they’re fully popped. Return the ramekins to the oven and bake for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let the ramekins and caramel cool completely before proceeding. (You can pop the ramekins into the fridge to speed the process, or even do this step a day ahead.)

Make the cake: In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, oil, molasses, and honey. Combine the boiling water and baking soda in a measuring cup, then pour into the sugar mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the ginger. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cloves, and cinnamon, then add to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in the egg until the batter is homogeneous.

Divide the batter among the ramekins. Bake until the cakes are puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack set over a baking sheet for 5 minutes, then run an offset spatula (with its tip pointed outward, so it doesn’t cut into the cake) around the edge of each cake, turn out onto the wire rack, and let cool completely. (Or, if you are making these cakes ahead, let cool completely in their ramekins—do not turn them out—and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

When you’re ready to serve, warm the cakes in a 350°F/175°C degree oven until the cakes and the ramekin bottoms are hot, then invert onto plates.)

(*Excerpted from Baking at the 20th Century Cafe by Michelle Polzine -Artisan Books-. Copyright © 2020. Photographs by Aya Brackett.)

Cooking Classes

Education has always been a significant part of my life, both as a student and as an educator. In high school, I tutored math and quickly learned that being able to explain a subject to someone was actually the best way for me to learn the information myself. I also learned that there was no one single right way to teach – what worked for one student, didn’t work for the next. From that point on, I worked really hard to develop a customized and personal approach to teaching, that I carry on to this day.

Math tutoring, quickly turned to tutoring Economics at the University of Washington and later working with elementary and middle school students across many at-risk schools, most often in math, English, and reading. Fast forward a few years, I started my career as a Culinary Instructor, at Whole Foods Market in Plano, TX. There, I had a great opportunity to create my own classes, develop recipes, and device lessons plans.

Back in Washington, I have taught at Kaspars Special Events and Catering (summer cooking camp for kids), Sur La Table in Kirkland and Whole Foods Market in Redmond. As a Culinary Center Director forSalud! at Whole Foods Market, I designed monthly calendars, promoted and marketed classes and taught. Being surrounded by eager-to-learn and, most often, eager-to-listen children and adults has been one of the most fulfilling experiences.

I now teach private group classes (small and large) at my own kitchen, or yours! Ready to get cooking and learn yourself? Please contact me to schedule a class. You can also find out what my students have been saying after attending one of the classes (most come back for a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th class!)

I would strongly recommend that before signing up for a cooking class, you sign up for a Knife Skillsclass, which is the foundation you need to become a more confident and capable chef in your own kitchen.

Here’s selection of some of the of cooking classes I have taught. Feel free to pick from the list. Otherwise, I’d be more than happy to design a class especially for your needs, interests, and level of expertise!

One Grain at a Time – Cooking with Whole Grains, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
You know they’re good for you, they’re delicious, but cooking with whole grains can be intimidating and challenging at times. Do they need more liquid? Do they cook for a longer time? Find out answers to these and more questions in this class.

MENU Bulgur with Arugula, Pomegranate Seeds and Toasted Hazelnuts – Quinoa Salad with Mustard Lemon Vinaigrette – Rustic Farro Soup with Sausage and Mushrooms – Barley Salad with Fresh Mint

Health Starts Here: New Year Resolutions, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
We all make New Year’s resolutions to improve our health. While we can’t come to the gym with you, we’d be more than happy to help you in the kitchen. Join us to learn about our Health Starts Here program, and learn to make these great healthy recipes!

MENU Butternut Squash and Kale Salad Eggplant Bolognese – Roasted Tomato and Bulgur Soup – Walnut and Date Lemon Balls

Cooking with Kids – Roll Around the World, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Get your kids rolling in the kitchen. We’ll take a tour around the world starting in Vietnam, making our way through Italy, and ending with sweet dessert from France.

MENU Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce – Italian Pinwheel Pizzas – French Crepes with Chocolate Hazelnut Spread and Fresh Berries

Cooking with Greens, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Let’s take the Green Revolution to the kitchen. Step aside Romaine and Boston lettuces — we’re taking Cooking with Greens to the next level! Step into our kitchen to learn these creative and healthy recipes with kale, chard, escarole, arugula and spinach.

MENU Raw Kale Salad with Carrots and Avocado – Sautéed Swiss Chard with Sundried Tomatoes, Feta and Pine Nuts – Winter Salad with Pears, Walnuts and Roquefort Croutons – Get Your Greens Smoothie

Italian Supper, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Expand your Italian repertoire beyond spaghetti and pizza and find out why Italian Wedding soup has nothing to do with a wedding.

MENU Mozzarella and Tomato Napoleons with Homemade Pesto – Italian Wedding Soup with Carrots, Orzo and Meatballs – Baked Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells – No Bake Tiramisu

A Bowl of Soup, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
There are few things that are more comforting than a bowl of soup. These hearty soups can be a meal on their own. Make a double batch to freeze or enjoy for lunch.

MENU Better than Chicken Soup – White Bean Soup with Kale and smoked Ham Hock – Roasted Tomato Soup with Poblanos, Oregano and Goat Cheese – Moroccan Spiced Chickpea and Lentil Soup

Dress Your Salads – No Oil Salad Dressings, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Salads are healthy, unless they are covered by ladles of Ranch or Creamy Italian dressings. Find out about healthy alternative ways to dress your salads that include nuts and fruit.

MENU Rainbow Kale Slaw with Balsamic Mustard Orange Vinaigrette – White Bean and Spinach Salad with Apple Cider Dijon Vinaigrette – Broccoli and Pepper Salad with Almond and Chile Dressing – Arugula Salad with Strawberries and Creamy Walnut Dressing

Rethink Vegetarian, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
When it comes to vegetarian cooking, people often use soy and other products as meat substitutions. Instead, in this class, we will focus on the bounty of textures, colors and tastes provided mostly by vegetables that will please both vegetarian and meat eaters alike.

MENU Chipotle Vegetable Stew – Pasta Alla Norma – Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Ravioli in Sage Broth – Portobello and Pineapple Teriyaki Veggie Burgers

It’s All Greek to Me, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
If the last time you’ve considered cooking your own Greek meal was back in the day when “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was a hit, then it’s definitely time to cook again! Come and rediscover the bright flavors of Greece from salad to dessert. Opa!

MENU Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad – Lamb Sliders with Dill Tzatziki – Roasted Greek Potatoes with Lemon and Garlic – Baklava with Honey Syrup

Gluten Free Baking, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Gluten free doesn’t have to mean a dessert-free existence. In fact, you can have your cake and eat it too! Find out how in this sweet class.

MENU Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Cookies – Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Mint Cookies – Orange Scented Ricotta Italian Cornmeal Cake – Flourless Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze

Heart Healthy Dinner, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
February is American Heart Month. According to CDC, heart disease is the number 1 cause of deaths in America. Let us take a stand against the disease by preparing these delicious recipes that are good for your heart.

MENU Roasted Spiced Salmon – Mango, Avocado and Spinach Salad – French Lentils with Vegetables in Red Wine Sauce – Berry Almond Crumble

Cooking with the Season, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Let’s celebrate seasonal cooking and all it has to offer! Once a month, we’ll gather in the kitchen and cook with seasonal produce. February in the Northwest brings cauliflower, squashes, apples, pears and citrus.

MENU Butternut Squash SoupRoasted Cauliflower and Broccoli with Garlic, Pine nuts and Olives – Baked Lemon-Thyme Chicken with Shallots – Spiced Apple and Pear Crisp

Knife Skills 101
A great class for a new or a seasoned cook! Learn proper cutting technique that will save you time in the kitchen. We’ll also save you some tears and cuts while teaching you how to slice, dice, chiffonade and julienne. We will also talk about taking care of your knives and keeping them sharp.

Global Pizza 101, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
It’s one of America’s favorite foods, but pizza is enjoyed all over the world. We’ll bring the global flavor to our favorite savory pie!

MENU Basic Pizza Dough Recipe – Chicken Taco Pizza – Greek Pita Pizza – Curried Mashed Potato Pizza on Naan

Cooking with Your Valentine, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Skip the reservation line, the bill and the tip on Valentine’s Day! Spend the evening with your loved one in your kitchen preparing a delectable and romantic meal for two.

MENU Heart of Palm SaladHalibut and Vegetables en Papillote – Wild Mushroom Risotto – Flourless Chocolate Decadence

Cooking with Kids – After School Snacks, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Empower your kids to eat healthy! These easy to prepare recipes will keep your children happy and hunger-free before dinner.

MENU Homemade Hummus with Vegetable Sticks – “Pigs in a Blanket” with Mustard Dipping Sauce – Apple Sandwiches with Peanut Butter and Granola – Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

Moroccan for Beginners, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Discover the flavors of Morocco in this introduction class. Bring your appetite and questions!

MENU Carrot and Date Salad – Chickpea and Lentil Soup – Stuffed Peppers with Lamb – Mint Tea & Almond Honey Balls

Supper Club – Salads as Mains, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA

MENU Avocado Mango & Shrimp Salad – Black Bean Fiesta Salad – Celery Citrus Salad with Balsamic & Feta

Italian Feast, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
We ran out of spaces at our last Italian dinner, so we’re hosting another one in March! Come join us at the table and share in the Italian appreciation for good food and good friends.

MENU Tomato, Basil & Parsley Bruschetta – Roman Style Chicken Saltimbocca – Caponata Linguine – Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Cooking with the Season, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Let’s celebrate seasonal cooking and all it has to offer! Once a month, we’ll gather in the kitchen and cook with seasonal produce. March in the Northwest puts a spotlight on Jerusalem artichokes, arugula and mussels.

MENU Arugula and Radicchio Salad – Steamed Mussels with Tomatoes, Capers and Olives – Sunchoke and Potato Puree with Caramelized Onions – Orange & Ricotta Italian Cake

Cooking with the Season, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Let’s celebrate seasonal cooking and all it has to offer! Once a month, we’ll gather in the kitchen and cook with seasonal produce. April in the Northwest puts a spotlight on asparagus, artichokes, strawberries and mangoes.

MENU Steamed Artichokes with Lemon Butter Sauce – Strawberry & Arugula Salad – Spring Risotto with Asparagus & PeasSautéed Shrimp with Tomatoes & Basil – Mango Aqua Fresca

Cooking for the Holidays: Passover, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Come celebrate this holiday and learn about the history and food symbolism. We will use recipes from Joan Nathan’s “Jewish Holiday Cookbook.”

MENU Chicken Soup with Matzah BallsTurkish Baked Eggplant & Cheese Casserole – Persian Cucumber-Yogurt Salad – Passover Apple Blintzes

Let’s Do Lunch – Soup & Salad, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Let’s do lunch! We’ll go the traditional route with soup and salad and something decadent and delicious for dessert.

MENU Sonoma Chicken Salad – Creamy Spring Asparagus Soup – Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

Healthy Mediterranean, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Mediterranean cuisine is known worldwide for its flavors and health benefits. Let’s try a few recipes in our own kitchen.

MENU Lemon Thyme White Bean Hummus – Mediterranean Crunch Salad – Baked Salmon with Olive and Tomato TapenadeNo Bake Almond & Date Dessert

Southwestern Made Healthy, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
Enjoy a delicious and healthy meal prepared just for you! During the meal we will talk about how the dishes were prepared, why we chose certain ingredients and have a discussion around healthy eating topics. Bring your appetite and your questions!

MENU Layered Vegetable Enchiladas – Pico de Gallo Guacamole – Mango Smoothie

Cooking with Kids – Breakfast, Whole Foods Market, Redmond, WA
You make breakfast for your kids all the time. How about letting them making you breakfast for once? Let us show them how.

MENU Cheddar & Chives Scones – Make-Your-Own Omelets – Yogurt Parfait with Homemade Granola – Brown Sugar & Vanilla Challah French Toast

French Bistro Cooking, Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
Don’t be intimidated by the name of the class, classic French cooking is no problem with the help of our expert instructor. We’ll show you tips and techniques the pros use to save time and energy preparing authentic and amazing classic French favorites like onion soup, a soufflé, bourguignon and a crème brulee.

MENU Soupe a l’Oignon – Cheese Souffle – Boeuf Bourguignon – Crème Brulee

5 Fish Recipes Every Cook Should Know, Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
In this series we show you how to prepare five foundational dishes our experts think every chef should master. This class focuses on helping cooks learn how to take advantage of the fruits of the sea. We’ll walk you through this menu full of tried and true globally inspired favorites that are a necessary addition to everyone’s culinary repertoire.

MENU Crispy Skin Salmon with Shiitake-Cream Sauce – Sesame Crusted Tuna Steaks with Ginger-Soy Sauce – Classic Fish and Chips – Grilled Fish Tacos – Pan Fried Sole with Lemon-Butter Sauce

Bon Appetit: Lessons in French Technique, Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
The prevailing wisdom is that once you feel comfortable with the rules of French cuisine, you can tackle just about anything in the kitchen. This class will give you the secret to a perfect vinaigrette, classic roast chicken, luscious soufflés, and much more.

MENU Classic Gougeres – Salad with Herb-Dijon Dressing – Classic Sole Meuniere – Roast Chicken with Herb Butter, Onions and Garlic – Chestnut-Armagnac Soufflé with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

Late Summer Celebration at Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
Quick, before it’s gone! Summer always seems to melt away faster than ice cream, but in this class we’ll show you how to make the best of it with the fabulous flavors of the season. You’ll learn techniques for grilling that maximize the potential of summer’s amazing bounty with this menu full of light and satisfying recipes that are perfect for parties, family dinners, quick lunches and more.

MENU Grilled Peach Salad with Pancetta and Arugula – Summer Tomato Spaghettini with Basil and Fresh Mozzarella – Grilled Chicken with Salsa Verde – Grilled Nectarines with Mascarpone Ice Cream

Date Night: Seattle’s Great Restaurant Recipes, Kirkland, WA

Bring someone special and join us for a culinary tour of Seattle’s great restaurants. You’ll learn how to plan an exciting and flavorful meal for two with local and seasonal ingredients selected by some of the area’s renown chefs. Our instructor will share secrets these celebrated chefs use, and teach you how to successfully recreate these dishes in your own kitchen anytime.

MENU Oysters with Frozen Red Wine Mignonette (Ethan Stowell, Union) – Pan-Seared Wild King Salmon with Sautéed Apples and Cider Reduction (Brian Scheeser, Trellis) – Butter and Sage-Braised Chanterelles (Jason Wilson, Crush) – Grilled Asparagus with Hazelnut Aioli (Holly Smith, Cafe Juanita) – Cherry Clafoutis with Lemon Verbena Custard Sauce (Johnathan Sundstrom, Lark)

Easy Summer Cooking at Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
This class promises to expand your summer culinary repertoire by exploring fast and easy dishes that celebrate the flavors of the season. Our instructor will show you how to prepare this menu full of classic summertime dishes with a gourmet spin that are great for barbecues, family dinners and much more.

MENU Grilled Chicken Salad with Peaches, Arugula and Ricotta Salata – Turkey Burgers with Tomato Jam – Grilled Mahi Mahi with Cool Cucumber Sauce – Watermelon and Raspberry Sorbet

Global Kitchen: Moroccan at Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
Moroccan cuisine is one of the most diversified cuisines in the world. A result of the centuries-long interaction with the outside world, the cuisine of Morocco is a mix of Berber, Spanish, Portuguese, Moorish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and African cuisines. Spices are used extensively, and we’ll show you how to bring these rich and exotic flavors to prepare an amazing authentic Moroccan feast from start to finish.

MENU B’stilla Bites – Chicken and Date Tagine with Golden Couscous – Tomato and Preserved Lemon Salad – Saffron Ice Cream with Candied Rose Petals – Moroccan Mint Tea

Summer Vegetarian Cooking at Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
Let us guide you through some of the many wonderful options available to vegetarians this summer. We’ll take advantage of the bounty that is in season now, with tips and techniques that will open up a variety of salads, pizzas and fritters for you to serve for both vegetarian and meat-loving crowds.

MENU Quinoa Salad with Pickled Radish and Feta – Roasted Cherry Tomato Pizza with Pesto and Aged Gouda – Summer Squash Gratin – Fritters with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

Four Classic Asian Dishes at Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
This class is designed for those interested in mastering the basics of a variety of Asian favorites. Learn how to prepare popular and flavorful meals many people think they have to go out for. You’ll create appetizers, soups and entrees that will be easy to whip up in a snap at home.

MENU Gyoza (Japanese Steamed Dumplings) – Tom Kah Gai (Thai Lemongrass and Coconut Soup with Chicken) – Sweet and Sour Pork – Pho (Vietnamese Beef and Noodle Soup)

Knife Skills Workshop at Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
Get comfortable at the cutting board with the chef’s most important tool. Hone basic knife skills and practice the fundamental cuts for vegetables — mince, dice, brunoise, batonnet and julienne — as well as a few advanced techniques. Plus, learn how to select a knife that fits your needs, and tips for keeping all your knives sharp and well maintained at home.

International Appetizers at Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
A variety of appetizers and small plate it,ems that are good for a first course, party buffet or late night snack. Learn new seasoning combinations and cooking techniques.

MENU Mini Corn Pancakes with Jalapeno-Lime Cream – Soy-Ginger Glazed Beef Skewers – Fried Mozzarella Balls with Pomodoro Dipping Sauce – Sesame Wontons with Smoked Salmon, Radish Sprouts and Wasabi – French Semolina Flatbread with Lemon. Rosemary, and Olive Oil

International Passover at JConnect, Seattle, WA
Passover dishes from around the world.

Baking with Eggs at Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
The simple egg is so much more than it is cracked up to be. It is the driving force behind creamy custards, luscious puddings and savory souffles. This class will give instruction on how to create all of these temptations and more.

MENU Lemon Creme Brulee with Fresh Berries – Chocolate-Mint Pudding Cakes – Vanilla-Orange Custard with Caramel – Arugula and Bacon Quiche – Goat Cheese and Herb Souffles

Crepes at Sur La Table, Kirkland, WA
Savory or sweet — morning, noon or night — it’s easy to add crepes to your cooking repertoire. You’ll learn the secrets to making perfectly thin, lightweight crepes and we’ll show you the many ways to fill, assemble and top this delicate French treat.

MENU Basic Savory Crepes – Basic Sweet Crepes – Chicken and Mushroom Crepes – Crepes with Apples and Calvados – Herbed Crepes with Smoked Salmon and DillCream – Crepes Suzette

Kaspars Summer Kids Cooking Camp, Seattle, WA

Better Bacon: Chef Recipes & How to Make Your Own

From pig to plate, upgrade your bacon. Watch 20 video tutorials from master butcher Tom Mylan on how to make your own, and then dip into 31 original recipes from the top bacon-obsessed chefs in North America. You can even learn the history of bacon while preparing your own delicious cured pork.

•• TIME OUT NY “With its stunning visuals and smart layout, this bacon-lover’s bible offers a glimpse into how tablets are reinventing the cookbook genre.”

•• CBS NEWS “I was mesmerized from start to finish while watching Tom Mylan demonstrate the process of where each cut of pork comes from.”

•• COOL HUNTING “Ramp up your cured meat game… Open Air has upped its game in this app, including a feature to allow users to zoom into pig parts.”

•• APPADVICE “Those familiar with the developer’s other apps will know how easy this app is to navigate. If you love bacon (and why wouldn’t you?), reach down into your bacon wallet and buy this app.”

•• VICE “We are happy to see that Tom Mylan and Ari Weinzweig have come together to smash pure pig skin down into tiny ones and zeros to create the no-BS app that stands as the definitive place for all things concerning bacon.”

•• GIZMODO “This week's best apps for iPad.”

• Tom Mylan
Tom is co-founder and executive butcher of The Meat Hook, a Brooklyn-based supplier to many of NYC’s top restaurants that specializes in local, sustainable meat. Tom has written for New York magazine,, and, and he is a former editor of Diner Journal magazine. He makes 150 pounds of bacon a week.

Bacon is not just for breakfast. Make it an integral part of your lunch, dinner, snacks and even desserts and cocktails. With 31 recipes from bacon-obsessed chefs and bartenders across the USA and Canada, including:
• Heather Carlucci, Print, NYC
• Michael Scelfo, Russell House Tavern, Boston
• Stephen Collucci, Colicchio & Sons, NYC
• Paul Kahan, The Publican, Chicago
• Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow, The Meatball Shop, NYC
• Tom Mylan, The Meat Hook, Brooklyn
• Fred Morin, Joe Beef, Montreal
• Marco Canora, Terroir, NYC
• Linton Hopkins, Holeman & Finch Public House, Atlanta
• Zakary Pelaccio, Fatty 𠆌ue, NYC
• Stephanie Izard, Girl & The Goat, Chicago
• Gerard Craft, Taste, St. Louis
• Johnathan Sundstrom, Lark, Seattle
• Sean Brock, Husk, Charleston
• David Bull, Congress, Austin
• David Katz, Mémé, Philadelphia
• Bryce Gilmore, Barley Swine, Austin

• HOME SMOKER — Step-by-step guide and detailed video on how to make a home smoker to smoke your own meat
• BACON-INFUSED COCKTAILS — Learn how to infuse bacon into spirits like bourbon, rye, and kahlua (yes!)

• Zingerman’s co-founder, Ari Weinzweig, curates a list of the highest quality bacon that can be delivered straight to your doorstep. Made in the USA at select sustainable local farms.

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Caramel Pots De Crème With Whipped Crème Fraîche by David Hawksworth

This was one of the original desserts on the Nightingale menu and it’s still going strong. So simple, but so good.

NOTE If vanilla bean is unavailable, use good-quality paste or essence.

Crème Fraîche
300mL (1¼ cups) heavy cream
100mL (7 Tbsp) buttermilk

Pots de Crème
415mL (1⅔ cups) cream
160mL (⅔ cup) milk
5g (1½ tsp) salt
¼ vanilla bean, split and scraped
100g (½ cup) sugar
6 egg yolks

Vanilla Breton
60g (½ cup plus 1 Tbsp) pecans
200g (1½ cups) pastry flour
12g (scant Tbsp) baking powder
3g (1 tsp) salt
¼ vanilla bean, split and scraped
130g (⅔ cup) sugar
130g (½ cup plus 1 Tbsp) butter
3 egg yolks

Butterscotch Sauce
45g (3 Tbsp) butter
145g (¾ cup) brown sugar
120mL (½ cup) cream

Whipped Crème Fraîche
200mL (¾ cup) cream
15g (2 Tbsp) icing sugar

Combine the cream and buttermilk in a stainless-steel bowl. Cover with cheesecloth and leave to culture and thicken in a warm spot in your kitchen for 24 hours, then refriger- ate overnight.

Bring the cream, milk, salt, and vanilla to a simmer in a pot over low heat. Place a thick-bottomed pan with tall sides over medium heat. Add the sugar in 3 additions, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, allowing it to melt between addi- tions. Cook until dark amber in colour, then add the cream. Be careful as the mixture will bubble violently. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to 40ºC (105ºF). Place the egg yolks in a large bowl. Slowly pour the hot caramel and cream into the egg yolks while constantly whisking to create a custard. Refrigerate overnight.

Grind the pecans to a fine powder in a food processor. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the pecan powder. Rub the vanilla into the sugar to free the seeds, then sift together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar with the butter on medium speed, then add the egg yolks in 3 additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the dry ingredients and blend to form a soft dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.

Preheat the oven to 135ºC (275ºF). Strain the refrigerated custard through a fine-mesh sieve. Fill six 240mL (8 oz) jars with the custard to the halfway point. Place the jars in a shallow baking dish and fill the dish ⅓ full with simmering water. Transfer to the oven and cook until the custards are just set and jiggle when gently shaken, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven, then the jars from the dish, and allow to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Increase the heat of the oven to 175ºC (350ºF). On a lightly floured work surface, roll the chilled pastry into a rectangle that is 0.5cm (¼ in) thick. Transfer to a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the sugar and about 50mL (3 Tbsp) of the cream. Stir to dissolve, then bring to a simmer and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the remaining cream. Chill over an ice bath, stirring occasionally.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cream, 90mL (about ⅓ cup) of the crème fraîche, and the icing sugar. Whip until the cream holds medium peaks. Refrigerate the remaining crème fraîche for up to 1 week.

Spoon the whipped crème fraîche into the custard pots. Top with shards of Breton pastry. Drizzle with butterscotch sauce.

Buy this book
Hawksworth: The Cookbook
£33.99, Appetite By Random House

Go Inside and Outside the Test Kitchen with Chef Anne

My name is Anne Haerle (pronounced “Hurley”) and I have the greatest job in the world. As Sur La Table’s Corporate Chef, I design the themes and menus for many of the cooking classes taught in our 23 culinary programs around the country. I also write the recipes for these classes and test them in our corporate kitchen. Each week feels like a culinary trip around the globe. So far I’ve written and tested recipes for Italian, French, Thai, Spanish, Korean, and Latin American cooking classes, as well as baking and pastry. I use our test kitchen as my lab and playground where I’m constantly exploring new flavor combinations, cooking techniques, culinary products, and regional cuisines. From time to time I’m also asked to develop recipes for special events and cook on TV on behalf of Sur La Table. I started this blog to take you behind the scenes into the exciting and endlessly fascinating world of professional cooking.

My former career didn’t always provide so much excitement. After graduating in 1987 with a bachelors in graphic design, I took two whole seconds to decide to move from Kentucky and go to New York City to earn my masters. During grad school I got my first graphic design job and didn’t look back. I worked as a designer for agencies in midtown Manhattan for over ten years, working with Fortune 100 companies on tons of high-profile projects.

In between hammering out annual reports and slick brochures, I taught myself how to cook by immersing myself in New York’s bustling culinary scene. I prowled the food shops of Chinatown, marveling at the bins of ingredients I have never seen (no fresh turtle eggs in Kentucky!). I bumped into Little Italy and tried my first bite of still-warm mozzarella. I enjoyed amazingly vibrant Greek food in Astoria, ate my way through Indian Restaurant Row on East 9th Street, and grilled short ribs at my table in midtown’s Korean food palaces. And while earning my MBA (yes, I am woefully overeducated) and working over 60 hours a week at the agency, I sopped up as much food knowledge as possible through cookbooks and by cooking elaborate meals in my home kitchen.

But a decade of the Manhattan pressure cooker took its toll and I needed a change of scenery. I got another agency job in Seattle and left the East Coast in the dust. But after a few more design and marketing jobs, I finally torched my love for the industry and wanted a new challenge.

My husband helped me rekindle my love of food and cooking when he suggested I become a personal chef. I launched my business while keeping my marketing day job. But when you start cooking professionally, you become acutely aware of what you don’t know. So my husband encouraged me to go to culinary school. I packed up again and returned to the East Coast to attend the Culinary Institute of America.

After yet another graduation ceremony (my friends were getting tired of the invitations), I returned to Seattle and worked as a rounds cook at The Herbfarm. This venerable fine-dining restaurant features menus crafted from the finest ingredients the local soil and waters could produce. After this culinary grad school of sorts, I joined the Sur La Table team as as an Assistant Culinary Manager and later became Culinary Manager. I got to teach cooking classes and run the culinary program in a local store. Now I could combine my love of cooking with my passion for teaching and put my business skills to good use. How great was that?

In my current role as Corporate Chef, I get to share my culinary knowledge and discoveries with a growing audience. And it’s a great opportunity to create recipes and gain new insights in the test kitchen. To keep my skills sharp and gather additional culinary inspiration, I regularly volunteer to work in restaurant kitchens to keep one foot in that crazy, addictive world which makes for some great stories. And when I attend special culinary events, visit chefs and producers, and uncover new cooking tools and techniques, you’ll get a special behind-the-scenes look on this blog.

I’m extremely fortunate to have a job where I can combine my cooking skills and knowledge with my passion for teaching and learning. I’m excited to share these amazing culinary experiences with you.

Watch the video: Russian Food Party!! SMOKED BEEF BORSCHT by Russias Best Chef!! White Rabbit, Moscow, Russia! (August 2022).