Twenty five years ago, long before Tom Douglas had a 16-restaurant empire, he was just getting started with his flagship Dahlia Lounge. Seattle Times reviewer Providence Cicero paid the restaurant a visit to see how things have shaped up over the years and came away with an overwhelmingly positive impression. Cicero awarded the restaurant 3.5 stars for its sophisticated but approachable cooking.
Cicero says the retro decor is charming and doesn't hint at an outdated menu:
A pair of plump crabcakes made of sweet, fresh lumps of loosely packed Dungeness, sit like solitaires atop ruby beets. Celery root rémoulade, sliced celery stalk, toasted hazelnuts and mint trail them like a bridal veil.
Chinese five-spice seasons two duck leg-and-thigh joints. Their crisp mahogany-hued skin conceals moist, supple dark meat. Accompaniments continue the theme: a big, soft, steamed bun sweetly stuffed with caramelized onion and root vegetables; garlicky, pleasantly bitter gai lan (Chinese broccoli) sautéed with oyster sauce; and a brisk, fruity huckleberry sauce.
The one disappointment in an otherwise flawless menu was a bread salad with "too few chunks of grilled bread." But it was a minor misstep in an otherwise resounding success. Dahlia Lounge is still damn good, 25 years in.