Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Wild Ginger: The Bar

Wild Ginger
1401 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
Reservations 206.623.4450
Wild Ginger on Urbanspoon
OK. We heard that this was the quintessential cougar den (translation: meat/meet market for mature unattached ladies). So we went for happy hour on a Monday at around 5 p.m., with friends, to check it out. The afterwork downtown crowd for sure. What did we find ? Well.....

More well dressed architect wanna-be single/married men on the prowl than we expected. A far far cry from the Allegro crowd. No hippies. No academic posturing.

We were hungry. It was happy hour. We ordered fancy shmance drinks - of course with potato vodka, which they have at Wild Ginger. Hurrah. But only one brand. So, how about those precooked shrimp in curry sauce? They sucked donkey, and we told our waiter. He kindly took them off the tab. The pork potstickers, however, rocked. Satisfying. Not too salty but salty enough. Nice firm dough, well cooked. Halibut with lemongrass was amazing. Not overcooked (or precooked..thank God). I can't figure out why a restaurant of Wild Ginger caliber would have pre-cooked shrimp lying around...waiting to be doused in whatever sauce happens to be ordered. For shame.

Well, after ordering upwards of 50 dollars in finger food, these two sassy chicas were still hungry but not willing to plunk down more cash in this overpriced candled joint. The table across the way, surrounded by 4 suits ordered a large plate of sexy green beans, steaming and glistening.

When we asked to taste their spicy green beans, naturally the suits thought we were talking about something else ...something that needed large doses of viagra to function. But no, ‘tasting the green bean’ is not a euphemism. We just wanted a taste of an actual green bean. Of course, the only thing the suits heard was "we want... your...." So naturally they beckoned us to their table. Since it was my idea to taste their beans, I had to go. Trying to look as if I did this all the time, I sauntered over to have a nibble. Biting my lip [this was my first time ...] I slowly pulled one out, trembling but excited all the same. What in the world was a [formerly] respectable girl thinking by putting his green bean in my mouth? And so early in the evening too. A green bean, goddamn it. It was so long and smooth. But as with many veggies past their prime .... it was limp. Not so sexy. The bean had been steamed a bit too long although it still had some flavor. Limp beans can’t stand up to a spicy schezwan sauce. Plus, they weren’t steaming, they were tepid. Not the restaurant’s fault. The suits barely touched them. Apparently green beans are bait here. It worked... but not the way the suits expected. I got what I wanted. See ya suits.

I would go back to try more green beans though. They were lightly coated in the schezwan sauce - not drowning in it. A properly steamed green bean is firm, long, lucious and knows exactly how to take on a little hotty sauce.

Would I go back to Wild Ginger? Yes, but only with a large rowdy group. The drinks were expensive but worth it. They have an impressive cocktail menu serving old standards, such as the Sidecar, alongside trendy yuppie-in-denial drinks like mojitos. Added plus: our server man was fun and thought the suits were wankers. Thank you server. It's basically hit or miss with this one though and for the price the food should be out of this world. While the pot stickers and halibut were amazing, the pre-cooked bland shimp and overcooked beans were no excuse for any restaurant for any price. In the restaurant biz? Stick to what you do best. If that means having a smaller menu, then so be it. It's worth it. If your food is consistantly good, no, great, then people will flock to your place even if you only have a few items to offer. There seems to be this pressure to offer everything to everyone.

This is not a cougar den at all. It’s a manther cave. Ladies, if you’re that desperate [and who isn’t at some point], leave your dignity at home. Manthers look somewhat respectable when blurry. But don’t get too close unless you’ve had more than a few of Wild Ginger’s sidecars. Unlike cougars, manthers do not age well. The manthers/suits had mini grand canyons etched into their faces. I thought if I got any closer I would fall into one of their crevasses. Amazing how a guy at any age thinks he’s all that and more to the ladies. Got to hand it to you guys, you’ll still try even if you are obnoxious and/or spineless twits.


926 12th Ave Seattle, WA 98122
tel: (206) 323-5275

Hours Tuesday through Sunday 5:00pm to 10:30pm
Lark on Urbanspoon

The sassy critics met at Lark on at around 7:45 on Tuesday, Election Day, November 6th. We sat among 40 somethings, most of whom seemed carelessly wiling away a Tuesday evening drinking wine and sampling delectables. There were a few ethnically diverse "groups" that reeked of Microsoft, but other than that, a pleasant environment for a couple of ladies in their prime.

Our waiter was cute in that I'm-in-a-band-but-I'm-really-sensitive-and-smart-and-read-a-lot kind of way. He also had sexy teeth and was pleasantly accommodating to all of our (my) incessant questions. There is a lot to learn on the Lark menu and I just gotta ask. Sorry. I got the feeling though that when HE asked me how the duck was, and when I was honest about the beautiful tang of the huckleberries being drowned out by the vinegar, and the meat being dry and not doing it for me, cute waiter turned off a bit and wasn't as attentive anymore. Maybe I annoyed him?

The Muscovy duck salami (not to be confused with the Crispy Liberty Farm duck leg with huckleberries and Walla Walla onions - the one I griped to the waiter about) with Ginja cherry and cinnamon preserve kicked our asses. Rocked our worlds. Last piece of salami had to be cut into two pieces to share. Divine balance of salty and sweet tang. Cinnamon preserve was honey like and a perfect complement to the rich deepness of the duck.

The seared Sonoma foie gras with poached quince and pain d'epice (aka sweet spice bread...) was divine. Pure liver, seared ever so rare,, buttery, flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth amazing. We found that the spice bread overpowered the beauty of the liver and had to be savored separately - alternately between bites of foie gras and the mini quince cubes, to cleanse the palate. Perhaps the spice bread provides those less adventurous souls with something to mask the flavor? Whatever.

The quince tart tatin was by far the highlight of the evening though and had I been hungry enough I could have eaten 3 or 4 servings myself. Our sweet waiter recommended the Tokaji - a Hungarian dessert wine - as a nice accompaniment to the tart. Perfect. He was spot on with all of his recommendations. I regret not taking him up on the pork tenderloin, however. The Tokaji was light and fruity without any syrupy sweetness. Perfect perfect.

Chef John Sundstrom definitely has his shit together, providing the interesting and the truly unusual in a town where people still seem excited by ye old standards: cantaloupe and prosciutto or anything seared. We thoroughly enjoyed Lark.