Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dahlia Lounge

Dahlia Lounge
One of the "Tom Douglas" family of restaurants in downtown Seattle

The Dahlia Lounge was recommended to us by several people, and was in fact the first Tom Douglas restaurant we heard of. We made reservations for dinner and were seated right when we showed up.

We liked the interior, decorated in red wallpaper and fish sculptures that gave the place an Asian feel, but with Mediterranean-style mosaics. The ceiling lamps weren't too bright, and we were seated by a window that let us watch the people on the street walk by. If we were so inclined, that is, but you would be surprised how boring people on the street can be, at least, when you're being served dinner.

We started with vegetable samosas, large, muffin-sized pastries of thick fried dough stuffed with lightly spiced veggies. We tend to like them a little crispier, but we later learned that the chef is Tibetan and so that's her style, rather than the Indian we're used to. She also cooked for the Dalai Lama, who happened to be in town on the weekend we ate there (and, we learned later, accompanied him to Vancouver as well, so he must have liked the samosas).

The next course, a Tuscan bread salad, mixed tasty greens with a hearty Italian dressing and big chunks of bread. We don't often get bread salads per se, though we do often enjoy bread with salad, so we weren't quite sure what to expect. In this case it worked quite well.

To complement the Tibetan appetizer and Mediterranean salad, we selected an Asian entree: Five-spice duck with sauteed pea vines and curry fried rice, accompanied by sweet and sour rhubarb jelly. This was the highlight of the meal. The duck was tender and not too fatty, with a slightly sweet Asian spice. We loved the fried rice with the curry, a light seasoning that brought lots of flavor, and the pea vines added nice crunch and texture. We liked the rhubarb jelly as well, a sweet complement to the rest of the dish.

For dessert, Dahlia offers a good selection, and they offer three small dishes that can be ordered separately or as a trio. We ordered the milk chocolate and banana bread pudding, but the waiter brought us the trio, so we were forced--oh, the torture--to sample the passion fruit, lemon, and grapefruit mochi, as well as several small chocolates: White chocolate carrot & ginger, mocha and chocolate, and a small dark chocolate. Of the chocolates, the carrot and ginger was the most remarkable, a really interesting blending of flavors with the white chocolate. You wouldn't necessarily think that a carrot and chocolate combination would work, but you'd be surprised.

The mochi were all cold, sweet, and surprisingly tart, a little too much so for Mark, though just to my taste. The banana and milk chocolate bread pudding was delicious, warm and full of banana flavor with pockets of milk chocolate scattered throughout. Good texture, not too sweet.

Overall, the Dahlia Lounge was a terrific dinner. The staff were unfailingly polite and friendly, though our waiter was a bit distracted (perhaps due to it being a Friday night). We loved the location and the decor, and wish we could go back more often to try some of the other delicious-sounding entrees.

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