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Lark


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  • 4 weeks later...

My husband and I went to Lark for the first time tonight. Due to the no rez policy we arrived at 8:30ish and were told there would be a 30 plus minute wait. The first person (a server) who greeted us was nice said that the host would tell us how long of a wait and bring us drinks - the host with the bad news seemed like a person who had been telling people they were going to have to wait for 45 minutes for a table all night. Nothing close to apologetic. More like civil.

I was more prepared for some waiting than my husband so I acted as if she were being more polite than she actually was but it didn’t really help. I would sure hate to have to tell people that all night so I felt some sympathy. Still, I expect a more friendly vibe from a host under what are, for them, normal circumstances.

We decided that we would go elsewhere and she said she would take a swing around the floor and see if anything had changed. I thought that was nice and said we would wait while she did that and talk about where we would go if there was no change. She never came back but waved and shrugged when we left.

It seems like a restaurant with a bar with only four or five seats would figure out how to take some reservations and leave some seats for walk-ins. We would have been able to sit on the couch in the waiting area but I'm sure that's not the case at 7:00.

I was looking forward to Lark and I will go back (at 6:00, the hosts suggestion, or when I feel like a relaxing wait 8:30 or 9:00) because I really liked the feel of the place and the food sounds fab. But I am not so sure how I feel about the whole no rez thing.

Okay, now that I have gone on and on I remember why I originally came in here to post. The host told us that they only take two tables a night for 6 or more (which is not news) but also that they are thinking about doing away with that too and making it completely no reservations. Thoughts?

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I have been thinking of this no rez thing and trying to figure out what I would do in Lark's shoes.

If you open a restaurant that people are excited about (especially if it turns out to be worthy of it) your reservation book fills up fast and no one can get in when they want. You start out your restaurant's existence with people thinking it’s good but it’s hard to eat there.

If you don’t take reservations people have to wait for 30-60 minutes for a table.

But I think when the buzz dies down, which from the sounds of the place it might take a little while, the waits will get shorter and I will be glad (instead of whining) that there are no reservations because we (my husband and I) like to decide where and when to eat out about 45 minutes before we feel weak from hunger. Until then, if I head to Lark again I will be a trooper and wait patiently like the rest of you.

I do think in the meantime the servers/hosts might want to try be patient/compassionate with patrons looking forward to a great meal and feeling a little disappointed when they have a long wait or have to go somewhere else. Even when it gets old after a long night.

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The way you do it, IMHO, is hold open a certain percentage of tables for walk-in guests. If you really want to make it feel spontaneous and devil-may-care, then set aside just 1 or 2 tables for parties who *choose* to make reservations. That way, if people want to plan ahead, they have that option. Can you imagine if you were driving to Lark from a long way away, and arrived only to discover that every 2-top was booked for the next 90-120 minutes? Would you wait? I doubt it.

FWIW, I am *still* peeved about our visit to Lark and the (mis)treatment we received -- and that was 2 months ago. Having at least a few tables available for reservations might 'cost' them something in terms of staff effort, but it would save them from all the negative publicity they're getting. I figure I've told at least a dozen people of my displeasure, not including the 1,188 pairs of eyes who (at last count) have accessed this thread. As they say in the biz: "You can't buy publicity like that."

A bit of tact and grace would have gone a long way toward solving the problem. But so would a reservations book.

~Anita

Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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I should mention that Laurie and I have had exactly one real meal out since Iris was born, and it was a couple of weeks ago at Lark with MsRamsey and husband. We loved it. The thing that really sticks in my mind is the rosti potatoes, a perfect disc of crispy, buttery browned potatoes served in a little cast iron pan. Other highlights included the duck leg, the charcuterie plate (especially the boar prosciutto), and the chocolate madeleines. My kind of food, in a big way.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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The way you do it, IMHO, is hold open a certain percentage of tables for walk-in guests. If you really want to make it feel spontaneous and devil-may-care, then set aside just 1 or 2 tables for parties who *choose* to make reservations. That way, if people want to plan ahead, they have that option.

Yes, I think the best way would be to take some reservations and leave some room for walk-ins. (I was trying to be more generous in my second post on the subject but this really is the way to go.) With only a few reservations per night it may be hard to get one sometimes but you would have two much more appealing options: make reservations somewhere else or go in knowing you will have to wait. I would much prefer not going there than over a long wait or having to leave and go somewhere else.

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This weekend I ate at A.O.C., one of Suzanne Goin's semi-big-deal restaurants in Los Angeles. The menu is startlingly similar to Lark's menu, but the food is not made or presented with as much care (A.O.C.'s wine selection is superior, however). In comparing these restaurants, if A.O.C. serves what passes for the best, most cutting-edge small dishes in Los Angeles, Seattle has really lucked out with Lark.

"Save Donald Duck and Fuck Wolfgang Puck."

-- State Senator John Burton, joking about

how the bill to ban production of foie gras in

California was summarized for signing by

Gov. Schwarzenegger.

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Can you imagine if you were driving to Lark from a long way away, and arrived only to discover that every 2-top was booked for the next 90-120 minutes? Would you wait? I doubt it.

If you were coming from a long way away especially to dine at Lark, I think you would know about the no-rez policy and be prepared to wait a while, if necessary. Or you could go very early, or very late. While I understand the complaint about host behavior, I'm puzzled by the complaints about having to wait when you go to a restaurant that doesn't take reservations. You go knowing that you might have to wait a while. If that's not acceptable, you go somewhere that takes reservations. I can think of two restaurants--Kingfish Cafe and La Rustica--that I've been to several times that don't take reservations. At both I have sometimes waited a long time for a table, and I have also chosen to go to a different restaurant if they were busy and I didn't want to wait. That's how it goes. When we had dinner at Lark we decided to go at 5:30, when they opened, to avoid waiting.

And, as Matthew said, we LOVED the meal. I think my favorite dish was the Arctic char served with rich, creamy lentils. And those madeleines got me interested in madeleines. tsquare's comment "This was a meal I enjoyed prior to ordering, while eating it, and long into the night" is very apt.

Hungry Monkey May 2009
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I thought it was interesting that on the menu list of cheeses, they had tasting notes for each cheese.  I thought this was a good idea, but I wonder how many people order the cheese described as grassy and barnyard.

I don't know what this says about me--but the first thing I said upon examining the cheese list was, "We definitely want the one that's barnyard." And it was good.

Hungry Monkey May 2009
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I thought it was interesting that on the menu list of cheeses, they had tasting notes for each cheese.  I thought this was a good idea, but I wonder how many people order the cheese described as grassy and barnyard.

I don't know what this says about me--but the first thing I said upon examining the cheese list was, "We definitely want the one that's barnyard." And it was good.

It would be my first reaction, too.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...
My mom is convinced that the weather in Washington is too wet and mild to grow good potatoes. She always complains that they are too gluey. I don't know if there is any validity to this but I thought it was interesting that you used the same word as a description.

YOur Mom hasn't tasted the extraordinary potatoes offered at the U District & Columbia City Farmer's Mkts. I've grown German butterballs in my backyard & think they're fine. I wouldn't describe them as "gluey" but I do notice a texture that could be described that way. To me, the potatoes are moist & delicious. To another, I guess they might be called "gluey."

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I thought it was interesting that on the menu list of cheeses, they had tasting notes for each cheese.  I thought this was a good idea, but I wonder how many people order the cheese described as grassy and barnyard.

I don't know what this says about me--but the first thing I said upon examining the cheese list was, "We definitely want the one that's barnyard." And it was good.

It says that you have good taste. But we knew that already.

Steve

"Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon." --Dalai Lama

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Four of us ate at the Lark last night and I would agree with all that has been said: it is not to be missed. We proably tried a dozen plates and all were impressive.

I dropped off some "false morels", or Verpas, this afternoon so they won't have to list "half wild mushrooms" on their menu. (Kept the true morels we found for our own supper.)

Would definetly go back. but do hope they get a curtain or shade for the front window before the late Summer sun takes over. It was very warm last evening in the front of the resturant.

dave

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I should clarify.. (from my field guide, David Arora's Mushrooms Demystified, on V. bohemica):

Edibility: Edible with caution. Although eaten by many people, it can cause severe stomach cramps and loss of muscular coordination, particularly when consumed in large amounts or on several successive days.

So on second thought maybe they wouldn't be a problem at Lark! :smile:

I assume you've eaten them before? How are they? Those warnings always scared me off so I've never actually bothered to collect or try them (I could have brought home a full basket of them today if I did).

Alex

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So on second thought maybe they wouldn't be a problem at Lark! 

I assume you've eaten them before? How are they? Those warnings always scared me off so I've never actually bothered to collect or try them (I could have brought home a full basket of them today if I did).

Few mushroom guides agree on much. Most, though, will tell you that all in the morel family contain a chemical compound similar to rocket fuel; they all need to be cooked to be rid of the compound. They will also pretty much agree any wildl mushrooms should be cooked.

It is interesting to meet immigrant mushroom pickers when hunting. They relish many wild mushrooms we wouldn't touch. When we were out Thursday there were pickers specifically looking for verpas. Different cultures, different mushrooms.

Yes, I eat verpas but only if I can't find morchela. My 82-year-old friend, who I hunt with, has ate them for 50 or 60 years and thinks they are great. To me they are watery and without much flavor. I guess I would put them in an edibility class with oyster mushrooms. Their claim to fame is that they are one of the first Spring mushrooms.

I have also had them off a restaurant menu in Hood River where they were listed as “Spring morels with salmon”. I pointed out to the chef that verpas aren't true morels. I also pointed out, - as I did to John at Lark - that some people can have a reaction to them.

John was aware of what he had.

Dave

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I'm pretty sure it's John, even though he was previously Jonathan.

Johnathan, so John would be correct, I believe. My dad is a Jon/Jonathan.

"Save Donald Duck and Fuck Wolfgang Puck."

-- State Senator John Burton, joking about

how the bill to ban production of foie gras in

California was summarized for signing by

Gov. Schwarzenegger.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Barb and I went to Lark last week; it was outstanding. We were greeted like long lost neighbors by J M Enos. This was actually based on a misunderstanding. We had never been her neighbor, but we had eaten at the Dahlia Lounge enough when she was there that she vaguely recognized us. (We still enjoy the Dahlia, but not as often.)

The morel mushrooms were wonderful. Also outstanding were the duck leg and the pork belly. As you can see, I love fatty food. The sea bass and the salad were very nice but less to my taste. The foie gras terrine was good but a little disappointing. It had a very heavy layer of fat on top, fat that was no longer in the liver.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This place is just so good.

Had a white aspargus salad with watercress and lemon oil. The aspargus were peeled, and perhaps roasted, slightly carmelized. Very different from typical green ones. Cress had some small flowers attached.

Elk chops with creamed nettles and porcini mushrooms. Served rare, very rare. Tender and flavorful. Many mushrooms.

Lovely glass of white Austrian wine - a stag on the label.

Rhubarb, huckleberry and pecan crisp with vanilla bean ice cream - served in it's own little Staub baking dish.

w/ tax and generous tip = $50!

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Pommes de terre Robuchon - a reincarnation of Joel Robuchon’s famous mashed potatos.  Being the unabashed name-dropper that I am, I mentioned to the server that we had been to Robuchon’s restaurant in September.  The chef actually brought the potatoes out to us and we talked Robuchon and Paris briefly.  Alas, I have to say these didn’t measure up to the original.  Robuchon manages to remove any trace of glueyness from his potatoes and Lark’s don’t quite manage it.  Good, but not exceptional.

Those taters are glutinous because the otherwise extremely talented chef at Lark is using the wrong damn potatoes to make Robuchon's signature dish. He's using Yukon golds. Should be using a good baking potato, a russett.

From time to time, we’ve discussed/debated here why/if Seattle falls short of other cities in terms of the quality of restaurants at the top end.  So here the question I’ve been pondering since going to Lark, “is the revolution upon us?”  With Union and Lark opening at the same time, and both being so much better than most places in town (IMO at least), is this the leap forward that some of us have been hoping/waiting for?

What in the world are you talking about. Nothing is passing you by, it's sitting there right under your nose. Get thee to Lampreia.

You shouldn't eat grouse and woodcock, venison, a quail and dove pate, abalone and oysters, caviar, calf sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, and ducks all during the same week with several cases of wine. That's a health tip.

Jim Harrison from "Off to the Side"

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