If the name didn't already give it away, you might notice a theme at Saffron Grill?that is, of course, the presence of saffron in just about every dish. Considered one of the world's most precious spices along with cinnamon and Sporty Spice, saffron makes its presence known at this Northgate restaurant through its alluring fragrances and signature yellow-orange hues. It pops up in rice, salads, tandoori chicken, and yes, even half-pound burgers.
That consistent culinary theme is the brainchild of owner Mohammad Bhatti and his chef, who designed the menu by tweaking authentic Indian and Middle Eastern recipes handed down to them. The result: signature butter chicken, garlic naan, and rich coconut curry that coats tofu, lamb, prawns, and paneer. More than 100 types of imported beer?including a dozen on tap?pair perfectly with the well-spiced meals, served amid Saffron's exposed brick columns, golden walls, and Indian artwork.
Fresh seafood mixes with the flavors of Peru at Mixturas. There, chefs create an array of traditional dishes, from Peruvian-style sandwiches to the purple corn pudding common to pre-Inca cultures. Chefs layer chicken salad between two yellow-potato rounds to create causa de pollo, and toss together rice and fresh seafood for the arroz con mariscos. Their signature dish is ceviche, in which the acidity of lime juices takes the bite out of raw seafood without making diners wear protective shark-tooth amulets.
Formed from about 17,000 islands that stretch from the coast of Thailand to the border of Papua New Guinea, the nation of Indonesia encompasses many climates and cultures. Recognizing that diversity, Indo Cafe's chefs strive to serve up an authentic sampling of the country's eclectic cuisine. The smartly curated menu ranges from daging tuturuga?a curry beef stew from Manado, on the northern island of Sulawesi?to bakmi goreng jawa?a Javanese-style egg-noodle stir-fry. If you're stopping by for the first time or have had your memory wiped since the last time, Seattle Weekly's 2012 Voracious Dining Guide recommends the ayam goreng fried chicken, a pan-Indonesian specialty which Seattle Weekly calls "extra-crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and best topped with fiery chili paste and paired with cooling, slightly sweet coconut rice." Indonesian produce stars in the desserts; the chefs fill whole coconuts with their savory-sweet pudding and make their own avocado- and durian-flavored ice creams.
Framed Indonesian art accents Indo Cafe's main dining space as well as three private rooms that can each host a party of up to 30 people or two giants on a romantic dinner date. Strengthening the restaurant's international ties, its owners are also active supporters of the Children's Foundation of Southeast Asia, which rallies local business owners to help build children's homes and schools in Southeast Asia.
Dinner options at O'Asian Kitchen and Lounge range from simplistic stir-fried snow peas to complex dishes such as the spicy golden Maine lobster that's flavored by dried shrimp, chinese sausage, dried black beans, bread crumbs, and hot pepper. Along with tons of traditional lunch options, the culinary team handcrafts more than 60 dim sum items every day, including chicken feet in black bean sauce and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves. Imported and domestic beers, traditional and signature cocktails, and rare Asian teas wash down meals, which unfold in a warm, sophisticated space with an attractive dining area, cosmopolitan lounge, and six private rooms. High-end Japanese vodkas are also available, as well as a selection of sake, which pair well with O'Asian's signature wasabi prawns dish.
Chefs ready the blasting heat of Mehak Indian Cuisine's clay oven for a smorgasbord of authentic Indian curries, breads, and baked meat and veggies. The tandoor's fire rages seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., searing pillowy naan, lamb boti masala, and chicken goa curry. The chef carefully balances spices and flavors to create recipes far more refined than the hastily prepared meals found in the roadrunner’s tiffins.
At locations dotted all over the Pacific Northwest, Black Rock Coffee Bar’s baristas dazzle patrons' taste buds with their simple and elaborate coffee creations. Served in ink-black cups emblazoned with their understated lowercase logo and red stars, their hot drinks range from brewed coffee to chai-tea lattes to flavored mochas. The baristas infuse the mochas with extras—including white chocolate and caramel to create the caramel blondie and hazelnut to concoct the blackout mocha, which, unfortunately, will not make you black out for the entire workday. On the chilly side of the menu, their blended drinks include shake-like delights made sweeter with Oreos, mint chips, and chai, as well as smoothies and icy coffee granitas.