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Dahlia Lounge

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For more than 20 years Dahlia Lounge has been sitting in downtown Seattle on the corner of 4th and Virginia, doing its local/organic thing. I’m not a big fan of that thing, and frankly of the dozen Tom Douglas restaurants there are to visit, Dahlia would come in low on the list.

The place is pretty, the service is awesome, but I’ve never left there and thought “Wow, that was amazingly good and I enjoyed paying $20 for one tiny crab cake.” I’m not a local/organic/sustainable idiot, I know those foods cost more and so do high rent locations like the corner of 4th and Virginia. Ok, I understand. But what I don’t understand? Are women who come out to eat on a very busy Saturday morning and bring their baby’s Cadillac stroller in with them, and then proceed to undress baby, herself, and grandma, folding coats and scarves into the behemoth baby wagon, stuffing shopping bags and re-organizing the gobs of whateverthehell, while the hostess, who is giving deeply apologetic eyes to the crowd waiting their turn to be seated, politely accommodates this completely oblivious mother.

Not one single time did this entitled mother glance in the waiting crowd’s direction to apologize for the incredibly long time she took. Finally the hostess was able to flag a passing server to seat some of the crowd that had accumulated. Babies are great. I love babies. I do not love completely oblivious women who believe that they are the center of the universe because they have just had a baby. One expects to wait for seating when visiting a crowded restaurant for brunch on a Saturday, but one certainly shouldn’t have to expect the Spanish Inquisition. Or this stroller crap. Ahem. Where was I?

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Pay close attention to those hours, they’re all over the place. Brunch from 9-2 on Saturday and Sunday, lunch from 11-2 Monday through Friday, and dinner from 5 – 10 through the week, 11 on Friday and Saturday. The thing is, if you accidentally arrive between 2-5? Head straight across the street to Lola, which should’ve been your first choice anyway. I’m not bitter! $11 for oatmeal.

Yeah, I said it.

I would love to try that, actually, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pay that price for oatmeal. Maybe Tom could try a brunch happy hour….

James wasn’t starving that morning, so he went with the Dahlia Bakery breakfast sandwich ($11) with an English muffin, fried egg, crispy bacon, baby arugula, and cheddar. That was the softest English muffin I’d ever put in my mouth, and if they all tasted like this from the grocery store, I’d be a fan. When the server brought it out, he immediately asked James if he wanted any Tabasco with it. My first thought was “Who are you and how long have you known my boyfriend?” and my second thought was “Damn, does it need Tabasco to kill the taste?” In the end I had to chalk it up to excellent server skills, because the overall service during the entire brunch was great.

The market salad comes with the breakfast sandwich. I thought it would’ve tasted better if it had been heated, but there it was, the pickled dish that inevitably finds its place in any meal I’ve ever had from Dahlia. While the prices are my main issue with the place, the reason is that I’ve never left the restaurant without having at least one dish that suffered from too much vinegar.

I had the dungeness crab cake with remoulade, fingerling potatoes, and grilled asparagus ($18).

The thin asparagus was grilled perfectly–still firm, not too mushy, and the fingerlings were full of flavorlings. I don’t know if vinegar was left completely out of this dish, but I can say that it was not overwhelming the flavors of the veg.

Probably the best damn crab cake in all of Seattle.  This restaurant has perfected the art of the cake–which is easy to do when you make quality dungeness 85% of the dish.  I know I bitch about the price, but it is excellent and that’s a whole lotta flavor in that plate right there. The remoulade could’ve been a bit spicier, but it was pretty good, too.

A visit to Dahlia just doesn’t seem right without the triple coconut pie ($9). Yeah, I said it, $9. But I’m not bitter! Who could be, when even a person who doesn’t like cream pies, or coconut, would order this dessert and love it?  Seriously, this creamily delicious pie with all its toasted goodness has got it going on.  Coconut in the filling, coconut garnish, and what? Coconut in the crust? Not the dreaded soggy crust of most cream pies, but a flaky, flavorful crust that makes you wonder if elves are cooking in the bakery. The tripled must be hidden in the crust.

You want that bite, don’t you?

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