This week, Seattle Times restaurant critic Providence Cicero slaps three stars on Matt Dillon's The London Plane. The Pioneer Square deli-bakery-cafe-pantry-florist serves buttery pastries and fancier brunch options, like "baby beets, chopped roasted rhubarb and crunchy toasted emmer" over "an ivory pool of house-cultured whole-milk yogurt."
Lunch is also beyond spectacular, including roasted leg of lamb, "served cold with a dollop of luxurious tzatziki," and savory pork meatballs. Although the albacore was a little dry, Cicero says it's "nothing a lube job with lemon and charmoula sauce couldn't remedy."
Let's keep going: Nettle and herb pesto star in "a glorious pasta salad composed of roast chicken, feta, walnuts, lentils and tiny quills of trofie noodles." Radicchio plays well with "an opulent chickpea-studded chicory salad" and homemade sourdough is even awesomer when topped with raita, red pepper hummus, and "bright beet hummus tart with pomegranate syrup."
After asking, "what the hell is a Brimmer & Heeltap?" The Stranger's Bethany Jean Clement wonders, "what the hell is a Babirusa?" in her latest review. She says Eastlake needs a spot like Babirusa—it's busy in the middle of the week, 70s music might be playing, and on a recent visit a dude was sporting a t-shirt that said, "I like pig butts and I cannot lie." Fun stuff.
The sharable, snack-y menu changes all the time and ranges from $3 to $14. Options include a perfectly cooked Painted Hills burger with a "glossy and light" bun, a kimchi octopus pancake, greasy Marcona almonds and chickpeas, fried tostones (less greasy,) and smoked arctic char hush puppies. The critic writes, "the pretty fuchsia beet-pickled eggs ($4) with sweet pickled vegetables are worth a trip by themselves." A couple of misses included rainbow trout with overly blackened skin and a spiceless meat pie.
By the way, the stripmall spot next to Blind Pig Bistro (and from the same owners) is named after a tusked Indonesian pig.
Seattle Mag's Julien Perry checks in at Liam's in University Village. In spite of being U Village-y, the restaurant from Kurt Dammeier (Beecher's, Bennett's, Pasta & Co., Maximus/Minimus) is good for a date and a reprieve from kids (which is sort of a head scratcher since Dammeier named the place after his youngest.)
A nice touch: dinner starts with a sample swig of local wine. The long menu from chef de cuisine Robin Posey (ex-Toulouse Petit) includes bright spots, like "unbelievably fresh citrus prawn salad" and a mushroom tart (even if it is "a little cruise-shippy in appearance.") Would the restaurant succeed outside of a fancy mall? "Probably not," Perry writes. "But Liam's isn't trying to be anything other than a place that caters to wornout shoppers and parents who just want some solid food and downtime."
· London Plane: Inventive cafe also part deli, bakery, florist [Seattle Times]
· What the Hell Is a Babirusa? [The Stranger]
· New Date Night Spot: Liam's in U Village [Seattle Mag]