Postcard From Tom: Seattle

Sunday, January 2, 2005

Here's what's hot, right now, in Seattle, one of the country's most delicious dining destinations:

CROW (823 Fifth Ave. N., 206-283-8800)

Fear not: The bird of the title appears only in some metalwork in this former warehouse, a rustic bistro where the best seats await at the rear counter, behind which the cooks prepare your meal. Aim for codfish fritters, curry-fragrant mussels, prosciutto-bound roast chicken and a surprisingly light lasagna circled in a bright tomato sauce. Ward off any winter chill with the most elegant hot chocolate and cookies around. Entrees $13-$19.

LARK (926 12th Ave., 206-323-5275)

Fans know to show up early for one of too few tables at chef-owner Jonathan Sundstrom's soulful tribute to what's luscious and local. Among just a few explanations for the crowds: a silken chanterelle flan crowned with a tiny lobster salad, crisp duck leg served with Asian pear and balsamic vinegar, and tender beef cheeks nestled with roasted root vegetables. All this in a space made cozy with rafters overhead, flickering candles and a sheer, S-shape curtain that snakes through the middle of the dining room. Small plates $9-$18.

LOLA (2000-B Fourth Ave., 206-441-1430)

Tom Douglas, the city's burly ambassador to Pacific Northwest cooking, sets his sights on Greece with this, his fourth restaurant, off the lobby of the Hotel Andra. The long and modern menu encourages grazing -- and sharing. Start with a dip (perhaps cauliflower mashed with anchovies and spread on warm pita bread), continue with a kebab (squid spiked with chilies is one of several hits) and make room for whole fish or cumin-spiced leg of lamb. Entrees $8-$26.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company