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Lark, Seattle

Located in the Capitol Hill area, Lark is primarily a walk-in restaurant but they do take a FEW nightly reservations which you must make the day you would like to dine.  When our flight from Denver to Seattle (or SEA-TAC as the locals call it) was delayed, we had just enough time at the Denver airport to grab our first vacation beer and make a 7:30 reservation at Lark.

The Capitol Hill area in Seattle seems to be the hip place to live and eat.  There are about 1 million coffee houses (What else do you expect in Seattle? It’s the birthplace of Starbucks!) as well as restaurants, bars and clubs.  Apparently Capitol Hill was the neighborhood most associated with the Grunge movement in the 1990s, and it’s currently the “it” place for the counterculture scene (which appeared to be mainly hipsters) and the gay and lesbian population.  It’s somewhat surprising that it’s such a popular place for the counterculture scene because it’s also the most expensive place to live in Seattle.

After a drink at a Capitol Hill speakeasy, Needle & Thread (which is located above Tavern Law on 12th street) we arrived at Lark for our 7:30 reservation.  

The restaurant is warm and cozy with only about 30 seats, and the woman who greeted us at the door was incredibly friendly.  Our table was not yet ready, but there were two seats at the bar so we decided  eat there.  (That’s two seats total.  It was the cutest little two seat bar)

I knew this place was going to be good when I noticed that the first page of the menu consisted entirely of cheeses. Oh Jesus, all the Cheesses!  We decided to reserve the cheeses for dessert and move straight into the “meat and potatoes” of the menu (so to speak).  The menu consists of small plates, and our waiter recommended we choose 2-3 dishes per person and share them.  The hostess felt bad about our seating (which we were delighted with) so she brought us a small plate from the charcuterie section of the menu.  It was La Quercia prosciutto with truffled green peach and Parmigiano Reggiano.  I don’t usually like prosciutto, but this dish was so delicious, we didn’t even remember to take a picture of it until we’d polished off the last bite!  The sweetness of the peach mixed with the saltiness of the pig really worked well, and the parmesean gave the dish a little bit of a firmer texture which I appreciated.

Next we shared the Carpaccio of Yellowtail with lemon oil, fennel and green olives.  When I was in Paris a few years ago, I ate a fish crudo at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon that was truly the most wonderful fish I’ve ever eaten.  After extremely careful consideration, I’ve decided that it was not only the high quality, VERY thinly sliced fish, but the perfect marriage of olive oil and lemon juice mixed with salt that made this raw fish dish so amazing.   I had high hopes for Lark’s fish Carpaccio, but it didn’t quite make the Joel Robuchon mark.  I did, however, think they used high quality fish with a good balance of acid and salt.  I wish they had sliced the fish thinner, and perhaps used a bit more oil, but the green olives were a nice touch.

Our next course was the all star of the night.  It was Penn cove mussels with chorizo, piquillo pepper broth and a garlic crouton.  It was so good, I wanted to drink the broth from the pot when the mussels were gone, and we fought over who got the last delicious, butter soaked garlic crouton! 

I am NOT a huge chorizo fan, and it often overpowers a dish, but it was perfectly used in the mussels.  It added a smoky spice, but didn’t make the shellfish taste like sausage (which I appreciated).   The broth was comforting with a kick of spice, just as I like it!

 The fourth course had two of my favorite foods in it: mushrooms and eggs!  The eggs were from a duck, which was a new variety for me, and the mushrooms were baked with onion, bacon and red wine, which really accentuated their earthiness.  My husband ADORED this dish.  He is still talking about it.  Again, the bacon didn’t overpower the mushrooms, but just added a hint of smoke.

The red wine and egg made the dish so rich and hearty it was something I would want to eat after being outside building a snowman!  And since Seattle was pretty chilly and wet, it was the perfect dish to warm us up…and make me feel ready to crawl into bed!





We ended the meal with the Mishima Ranch waygu hanger steak with gnocchi and veggies and a side of

Robuchon potatoes.  This was my least favorite dish of the night, though the meat was perfectly cooked.

The gnocchi seemed more like a polenta cake, and the Robuchon potatoes, though delicious, were really just mashed potatoes with a butter to potato to cream ratio of about 1:1:1.  Good, but not worth ordering again.

Unfortunately, we had to forego the cheese course because, seriously, I was so full I couldn’t breathe.  If I had 3 meals in Seattle, I would definitely eat at Lark again.   The food was thoughtful and delicious, the staff was friendly, and the wine was unique and well priced.

Moules Frites, Relay Style!











Last weekend, as my husband (who is still pondering his username…right now it’s between “buns of steel”, “sticky buns” and “honey buns”) was eating takeout pizza for the second night in a row when we decided we were really sucking at cooking at home.  We both love to cook, but it’s tough to do after work…and the gym (hopefully!)…and feeding/loving/cleaning/rocking Foodie Baby (FB).  Usually, if we can plan meals ahead of time, and I go to the grocery store at the beginning of the week, we do a great job of cooking.  Lately, we’ve been walking to the grocery store after work and getting enough food for that night’s meal (plus snacks for the walk home) or just buying coconut water (our new obsession) and ordering takeout.  But NOT this week!  We have a menu planned…at least until we leave town on Thursday.  And we are having friends over for dinner on Wednesday.  So we’re committed…unless we order pizza.  (ha!)

Last night we made Moules Frites, complete with homemade french fries!  I started prepping the meal while “honey buns” (using that name while referring to my husband makes me a little nauseous) played with FB outside.  Prep was pretty easy.  I chopped garlic, shallots and parsley for the mussels, cut the potatoes using the mandolin, and let the mussels soak in water.

Buy your mussels as fresh as possible.  I made a special trip to our “fishmonger” to purchase the mussels this afternoon.  They really do taste better fresh, and I feel like there’s less chance you will get some weird shellfish related food sickness if you buy from a fishmonger.  That may just be my paranoia talking.

The guy at the fish market told us to leave the bag of mussels open instead of tying it shut.  I think it’s so that the little dudes can breathe, but that’s kind of sad to think about so I decided it was to “air them out”, and that’s the story I’m sticking with.

Some people/recipes told us to brine the mussels prior to cooking them.  Last time we did, and this time we didn’t.  We just scrubbed the “beards” (ew) off of them and let them soak in water while we did the rest of the prep.  They were better than last time, but we also used a different broth recipe so I can’t say if the lack of brine had anything to do with it.

The guy at the fish market also threw in a few cockles because I said I’d never had them before.  Oh. My. Goodness.  They were AMAZING!  They were saltier than the mussels and much smaller.  They had a rich taste and I think they would be delicious in a pasta dish.  

I digress…I finished prepping the mussels and potatoes and began heating the oil to fry the potatoes.  I threw the potatoes in the oil for their initial fry.  (Did you know? The secret to deliciously crispy fries is to fry them twice!  More on that later.)

By then it was time for FB’s bath (this is where the relay comes into play) so TAG! Honey Buns (barf) took over the frying while bathed and pajamaed FB.  By the time he was asleep, HB (ok, I can live with that) had started the broth for the mussels and put the potatoes in for their second round of  fryin’.

TAG!  I took over the fries, added salt, plated them and set the table while HB finished the mussels.  We grabbed some crusty bread and Tah Dah!  A delicious dinner in less than 30 minutes.  We probably should have added a salad, but instead we added a glass of Fallia pinot noir.  Delish!

Moules Frites

The Mussels
Serves 2
  • 2  lb. mussels
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or any other crisp, herbal white wine *
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Good-quality crusty bread, sliced or torn into pieces, for serving

Rinse the mussels well under cold water. Pick them over, pulling off any beards and discarding any mussels that are broken or gaping open.

In a large pot with a lid, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, shallots, and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant and soft but not colored, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the mussels, wine, and half of the parsley. Increase the heat to high, and cover the pan. After 2 minutes, remove the lid and toss the mussels well with a large spoon. Cover the pot again and cook until the mussels have opened wide, another 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining parsley, give the mussels a final toss, and divide the mussels and the broth among bowls. Serve the bread alongside.

*We used a 2006 Merryvale Starmont because it was already open in the fridge.  Apparently there is no such thing as Merryvale Starmont anymore…it’s just Starmont now.  So this chardonnay was probably past its prime.  It worked just fine for the mussels.

The Frites

  • 3 potatoes, scrubbed (I used 2 last night and HB said I always “deprived” him of adequate potato supplies.  So make your guest happy and use 1.5 potatoes per person.
  • Canola oil for frying.
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Pepper
Pour oil into a 6-qt. Dutch oven to a depth of 2″, and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375°. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fries to a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet; chill (I put them in the fridge while the oil heated up, but I’ve heard some people freeze them before refrying.)
Increase oil temperature to 385°. Working in batches, add chilled potatoes and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, return fries to rack; season with salt and pepper.