We begin the new year by recapping some of our favorite menu items over the past few years. Our short list of "must try" items might be the restaurant's signature or iconic dish, but not always. Everyone's taste is different, but most of these dishes are a good bet and each one keeps us coming back to the particular restaurant.
For starters, it is hard to top the eggplant frites at Poppy (622 Broadway E., Seattle; 324-1108; poppyseattle.com). The nicely spiced and honey-drizzled frites are addictive. They are great happy hour or after-show bites to accompany the very interesting craft cocktails from Poppy's bar.
There is no shortage at all of other flavorful items to try while at Poppy, but the eggplant frites are likely something you will order every time you are there. They could also double as dessert. Simply put, try them, and odds are you will come back for more.
The marrow bones at Terra Plata (1501 Melrose Ave., Seattle; 325-1501; terraplata.com) are another favorite starter. The dish arrives as two canoes of pure decadence. Slightly charred on top, gelatin underneath, Terra Plata's marrow bones are a perfect way to begin a dinner of locally grown vegetables and raised meats.
The marrow is best scooped with the accompanying crostini followed by a taste of the citrusy pairing fruit, cleansing the palate before the next tantalizing bite. Whether you are browsing the restaurant's dinner or late-night menu, the marrow bones are a must-try option at Terra Plata.
One of our favorite small-plate restaurants, Lark (952 E. Seneca St., Seattle; 323-5275; larkseattle.com), recently moved to new and very impressive digs, and our recount of favorite foods brings to mind many of Lark's plates. The new space is much more expansive and well lit, and the updated menu offers more main courses, but we found all of our small-plate favorites remain.
Lark's preparation of Penn Cove mussels, with apple and bacon in a creamy broth, is our favorite. Forget manners, don't hesitate; soak up every last bit of the broth with the whole-wheat bread. The eel with potato salad, aioli and saba is special. The flavors are perfectly complementary and the presentation is lovely; and the saba, a grape juice reduction dotted on the plates, naturally leads this diner to call it "polka dot food" - and who doesn't love polka dots?
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