Each December, around the time that bonuses are handed out at my job, I like to treat Robert to a nice dinner out. Nothing outrageously expensive or anything, just a great meal in a fancier restaurant than we normally go to. That really isn’t saying much because, most of the time, we are pretty cheap. What can I say? We like our pubs and budget Thai restaurants. But, every once in a while, it is fun to splurge and dine out in the restaurants where foodies like me are probably supposed to be eating.

Last night, on a whim (or, on a “lark” you could say) we decided to head down the street to Lark. It was completely unplanned, but it turned out to be the perfect place for our special occasion dinner. Located in the uber-popular 12th Avenue area of South Capitol Hill, Lark has been getting plenty of acclaim ever since it opened for business several years ago. We tried going there once before, a while back, but it was slammed (they don’t take reservations.) Last night, the winter cold seemed to be working in our favor as we were able to get a table right away.

As is typical of many of Seattle’s newer upscale restaurants, Lark has a very casual, understated elegance. White tablecloths and candles are about all you get in terms of decor. Tables are situated close together in the big, open dining area, and you practically have to walk through the kitchen to get to the restroom. Very casual, very comfortable. I think the emphasis here is more on the food, less on the surroundings.

Lark’s menu is broken up into Cheese, Vegetables & Grains, Charcuterie, Fish, and Meat. Like so many places these days, the dishes at Lark are all small plates that are meant to be shared (to be fair, Lark was one of the pioneers of this movement in Seattle.) Our waiter explained that 4 or 5 dishes is usually sufficient for a couple like us.

We started off with Lark’s homemade crackers and a wedge of Echo Mt. Blue Cheese which is a cow and goat milk cheese from Oregon. We were also given a selection of homemade breads: a plain French bread and a very dark, slightly sweet bread that Robert especially liked. Our waiter informed us that it was dried cherry pumpernickel. Yum – I love pumpernickel!

Our second dish was ricotta gnudi (gnudi are similar to gnocchi.) This dish consisted of three ovals of pillowy soft ricotta dressed in a brown butter sauce and topped with currants, pine nuts and the tiniest cubes of winter squash. It was delicious; the texture of the gnudi was incredible.

To complete the meal, we ordered a couple of fish dishes. We were really tempted by the special of the night: seared scallops with porcini mushrooms and brussels sprouts (I love any restaurant that dares to serve brussels sprouts!) But, since neither of us is particularly crazy about scallops, we ordered the bacon-wrapped cod and the Spanish mackerel instead. The cod, which was wrapped in the thinnest slices of bacon I’ve ever seen, arrived in a subtle truffle broth sprinkled with diced celery root. The fish was cooked perfectly and the light & crisp bacon added just enough flavor to the dish without being overpowering. The cod was good, but the mackerel was our favorite dish of the night. Robert and I are big fans of mackerel, and this dish was a perfect example of why. It was pan-seared (again, cooked perfectly) and served with Bomba rice, chorizo, kale and marcona almonds. The briny, oily flavor of the fish matched so well with the spicy, rich chorizo. It was an outstanding dish that left me dreaming of mackerel all day today.

To drink, I opted for the 2006 Hiedler GrĂ¼ner Veltliner which proved to be a decent match for the wide variety of tastes throughout the meal. Everything about our experience at Lark was wonderful: the service was friendly and helpful, all of the dishes we tried were excellent and, although it was pricey, it wasn’t ridiculously so (and the food was definitely worth the cost – a rarity these days, in my opinion.)

Lark is located at 926 12th Ave and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 5:00pm to 10:30pm.

1 Comment »

  1. Mmm. Lark.

    I had a great meal there awhile ago, but haven’t been back since. Sounds like I may want to make the trek again…!

    Comment by Ole Jasers — December 17, 2007 @ 1:03 pm

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