Place KitchenPalace Kitchen

5th Avenue and Lenora
206 448 2001
Dinner only from 5PM to late

Palace Kitchen is located under the monorail on Fifth Avenue. It is sort of on the rapidly changing industrial edge of Bell Town, but only a block or two from the corn cob Westin.

As usual, we were starving when we stepped in, and the menu was a bit overwhelming. It took a few sips of a very nice limeade margarita to get the proper focus on the menu. Somehow, we managed, we ordered and we ate, and we ate.

We started with Tom Douglas's amazing chicken wings with chili and sesame and an amazing mix of spices. They were big wings, not those little greasy things, so they tasted like chicken under the spicy crust and the flavor fairly glowed through the coriander sour cream that was served on the side. We had hoped to try the headcheese, but the charcuterie of the day was the lamb soppresetta, a wonderfully intense compilation of lamb and Italian spices. It was served with a rich, creamy, flavorsome goat cheese the likes of which we long to taste again and pitted prunes soaked in balsamic vinegar. There were a lot of flavors on the plate, but they balanced. As the coriander sour cream balanced the spices of the chicken wings, the goat cheese balanced the flavors of the soppresetta. The prunes, both sweet and tart, brought out the salty notes of the dried meat.

Our next two appetizers (we did say we ate and ate) were the manila clams and the grilled octopus. The grilled octopus was a bit small, but richly flavored. We could smell the wood smoke of the grill as an undernote as we entered the restaurant, and that scent turns up in a number of the dishes. It was quite strong and delicious in the octopus, which was served with thin slices of Spanish chorizo, sparkling crisp cucumbers and toasted almonds. This dish was redolent of Spain. The manila clams, in contrast, were redolent of France, with a rich bouillabaisse that we had to sop up with the remainder of our bread basket. The crostini with rouille, while delicious, were just too small to do the stock justice.

There were a number of vegetarian dishes on the menu, but when one is very hungry, vegetarian fare is often a bit pale. We've been living on Copper River and marbeled for the past month, so we passed on that as well, and so we went for the cheeseburger with fries. Is it possible, but the beef tasted even better than at Etta's or at Dahlia Lounge. It has a certain tang. Was it Black Angus beef, or were we tasting the smoke from the grill? We weren't sure, but our burgers vanished rapidly along with the onions, lettuce and pickled tomatoes.

We couldn't face dessert, but we noticed some old Tom Douglas favorites on the menu. Besides, we had a ferry to catch.

All told, we had an excellent meal, and we are already planning our return. It is a pity that Palace Kitchen doesn't serve lunch. The restaurant has a big bar and the big appetizers menu cries out for a tapas like meal of many small plates. It is less formal than Dahlia Lounge, and a bit more formal than Etta's, which has that Pike's Place tee shirt ready ambience. It's a sort of after work place, and we are sure that if we had been there on a workday it would have been hopping.

Tom Douglas has been developing his brand of Northwestern Cuisine, and it has been evolving over the last decade or two. We love the bar bits at Dahlia Lounge, but Palace Kitchen takes these explorations into flavor intensity and contrast to a new level. This is the perfect restaurant to satisfy that craving for something powerful, especially if you aren't quite sure of your exact craving. The large menu, and the sheer strength of flavor, almost guarantee that you will be properly fed.

Review: 14 June 2004

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