Traipsing around Kirkland’s cuisine

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Epicureans and the epi-curious gathered Wednesday evening as part of Dishcrawl Kirkland to sample delicacies from four centrally located restaurants. Think of it as a pub crawl with the pursuit of great local food as the goal. En masse, the Dishcrawl participants made a procession from bistro to tavern to café, sampling some of Kirkland’s finest cuisine along the way. SONY DSC

One of the best ways a restaurant can distinguish itself is by wowing the patrons with their signature dishes. In the case of a Thai restaurant, diners will usually expect a selection of curries and of course, Pad Thai. Lai Thai did just that. Their noodles delicately balanced savory flavors with a medley of textures to keep it all interesting. All I could do was nod in approval when I sampled their Red Curry. I like a little spice but I don’t want a blowtorch. They balanced the coconut milk with the heat of the peppers as deftly as a Cirque du Soleil acrobat.

With whetted appetites we were ready to venture to the next restaurant. The weather was forgiving as we hopped across Lake Street and entered Top Shelf Broiler (formerly Olive You). Newly remodeled after a change of hands, Chef Miguel Estrada was brimming with pride over the menu selections. Whereas Lai Thai was able to showcase itself with tried-and-true traditions, Top Shelf Broiler can be counted on to amaze patrons with the unexpected. Tucked away on their side dish portion of the menu is, in my opinion, a main attraction contender: the black truffle macaroni and cheese. My knees buckled after tasting that Top Shelf take on comfort food. I asked Chef Estrada how he resists adding truffle oil to every dish. His response to my amateurish question was gracious and revealing of his breadth of cuisine knowledge. He also works wonders with prawns and Dungeness crab cakes.SONY DSC

Vista Lago, our third destination, took us on a virtual tour of Italy. My plate proudly displayed the colors of the Italian flag with sprigs of basil, white mozzarella in the Caprese and copious amounts of tomato on the bruschetta and pizza. I commented to the chefs that the pizza that really revved my engine was the Ferrari. They responded, “Wait until you taste our Lamborghini pizza!” I couldn’t resist checking the menu to see if they were pulling my leg. A word of advice; don’t be shy about venturing into the primi and secondi categories of the menu. Vista Lago has a good handle on their mushrooms and sausage pasta in creamy tomato sauce.

Just when we thought we’d have to order a Genie Lift to hoist our stuffed selves out of the restaurant, dessert arrived. Good news, we don’t have to walk to the fourth restaurant. Not so good news, we have to figure out a way to eat more. Good thing Thanksgiving wasn’t so long ago. Sweet Cakes offered cute and tantalizing cupcakes, with flavors for every palette. The salted caramel cupcake did a good job of mimicking a truffle (in a cake-like fashion). The red velvet lived up to its reputation. However, the hands-down favorite at our table was the coconut cupcake. Aloha!

Dishcrawl Kirkland was a chance for likeminded foodies to gather as a group and try traditional dishes and fresh approaches to local cuisine. The event successfully displayed a few of the mouthwatering restaurants within walking distance of each other.

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