Review of Dahlia Lounge

Dahlia Lounge may have moved down the block to the corner of 4th and Virginia, but the food is better than ever. Tom Douglas, the chef and owner, has an intelligent touch. Dahlia Lounge serves Pacific Northwestern food with Asian influences. This means an emphasis on seafood and fresh ingredients, but unlike many "Asian fusion" chefs, he has some respect for both cuisines and is willing to take his influences from anywhere.

To start with, try out the selection of fish plates. You can make a whole meal out of these, or order them as appetizers. Our favorite is the fresh octopus in lemon oil with parsley, but we also love the smoked salmon with mustard sauce, the albacore tuna with ponzu and the anchovies with capers. There are some oriental influences here, but also Greek and Italian.

They still have their usual wonderful appetizers including two of our favorites, the richly flavored shrimp and scallion postickers and their amazingly satisfying Tuscan grilled bread salad with tomatoes, onions, mozzarella, and olives. The potstickers, pan fried Peking ravioli are better than any we have had at any Chinese restaurants. The bread salad is both hearty and complete, redolent of Italy. Of course, we sometimes just punt and split an order of garlicky Belgian fries up front and dip them in aioli and cinnamon ketchup.

For the main course, there is always the steak, perfectly grilled or pan fried, but we've also worked around the world here. Last week the steak was tenderized and prepared mid-eastern style with pita bread, a baby greens salad and a yogurt dip and tabouleh. In honor of the season, we had this with the fettucini with cippolini onions and seasonal wild chanterelles. There is even a solid American influence - consider roast salmon with red, white and blue potatoes. (That is, three different kind of potatoes, not stars and stripes spuds). Or consider that neglected classic, the Cobb salad, an American favorite with roast turkey, blue cheese, chewy bacon, cherry tomatos, avocado and hard boiled eggs.

Save room for the creme caramel. This is an ultra-flan made with who knows how many egg yolks and heavy cream. It is served with spicy Mexican wedding walnut cookies, but it can stand on its own just fine.

Check out their website with menus and links to their other restaurants.

Also, check out their streetsite where the Tom Douglas empire seems to be growing. The executive offices are next door to the restaurant and they have added a small gourmet shop as well. This latter sells baked goods, preserves, ice cream and other goodies.

Review: 22 September 2001

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