Padded black booths surround grills beneath gleaming hoods, which reflect the glow of sunset-orange walls as they sweep away rising warm air and spice-steeped aromas. On Palace Korean Bar & Grill's tabletop skillets, chefs sizzle menu items such as pearlescent curlicues of kimchi and cuts of seafood as well as bulgogi, spicy slices of brisket also known as Korean barbecue. During the all-you-can-eat special, silverware jangles endlessly like a knight looking for his car keys as diners tuck into bottomless helpings of marinated beef short ribs, tender marble brisket, spicy pork belly, and jumbo shrimp.
Coho Cafe's two locations help their diners fight the weather—whatever that might be. In the winter, large rock fireplaces send heat bouncing off curved architecture and metal art while stomachs warm with Southwestern spices. In the summer, cool Pacific breezes fan guests on the outdoor patios while they sip cocktails and sink into cod tacos. But no matter what the temperature outside, there's an undeniable flair to the restaurant's Northwestern seafood. It's something viewers of KING 5's Evening Magazine have noticed too—they've lauded Coho for having the best New American cuisine in western Washington four times since 2008.
The cornerstone of these accolades is the kitchens' culinary restlessness. The executive chefs of both locations revamp the Fresh Sheets menu of weekly specials every two weeks to make use of seasonal ingredients and flavors. What results are bold plates such as pit-roasted salmon cooked over apple wood, and stir-fried coconut green curry with prawns and ginger-jasmine rice. Each bite pairs with a Northwestern wine as well—a fitting drink for any season.
At Flat Iron Grill, executive chef Jeff Olsen puts an international twist on traditional steak-house staples made with locally sourced organic ingredients. Small doses of chorizo, chimichurri, or chili-spiked truffle sauce lend distinctive Latin and South American flavors to the menu?s grilled steaks, black cod, and clam pappardelle. To accompany the rustically roasted entrees, the bartenders pour tipples from their selection of more than 180 whiskeys, which include rich bourbons, smoky scotches, and locally distilled creations.
Echoing the menu?s rustic elegance, the Western-themed dining room surrounds guests in warm-colored walls and metal work from Gagnon Welding. A spotlighted longhorn skull hangs on a terra-cotta red wall alongside local artists' black-and-white photographs of Washington landscapes. Patrons can also dine on an outdoor patio shaded by light-tan umbrellas and clouds lassoed into place by helpful cowboys.
When crafting his signature maritime dishes at KC's Seafood Restaurant, chef and owner KC Lam draws from years of experience as the chef at Chinatown-staple Sea Garden. But mostly, he enjoys the creative control he now wields over his culinary creations, a fact evidenced in each dish’s presentation. An appetizer sampler, for example, features sashimi arranged in concentric circles, encouraging groups of diners to attack the dish from all sides and nosh their way toward the center. Oysters are equally impressive, served on the half shell with sides of soy sauce and wasabi, while entrees win taste buds over with flavorful creations like salt and pepper pork chops, honey walnut shrimp, and a whole fried fish served with a zesty soy sauce.
One wouldn’t normally think of fish as having cheeks, but at Fins Bistro, they’re on the menu. The mildly sweet halibut medallions are indicative of the restaurant’s offerings: though mostly seafood, it’s a diverse balance of local and exotic flavors. The Northwest Trio touts the aforementioned cheeks with crab cakes and wild salmon, whereas sashimi-grade ahi tuna is seared and complemented by sautéed spinach. Beyond seafood, the staff cooks meaty entrees such as lamb shank braised in chianti, hinting at Fins' extensive wine list. The selection presents more than 100 varietals culled from near and far locales such as Washington, New Zealand, and Chile. Fins Bistro welcomes guests to sup in the yellow-hued dining room adorned with blue curtains or outside on the patio with large-enough table umbrellas to be used as tarps for baseball fields.
Regent Bakery & Cafe's authentic Chinese flavors couldn't be contained to just one meal. The restaurant started as a bakery specializing in Chinese pastries and cakes. As its popularity grew, so too did its menu—the staff began serving beef-stew and salted-fish hot pies, roast duck, and ma-pao tofu. Regent Bakery & Cafe now sports two full locations; the newest features a full bar that mixes up a selection of adult beverages and bubble teas, served inside a restaurant whose modern decor is lit by chandeliers and neon track lighting.