Restaurants come and restaurants go, but few do either so spectacularly as Stars Restaurant & Bar, which opened in November 1998 with the declared aim



Falling Stars

Restaurants come and restaurants go, but few do either so spectacularly as Stars Restaurant & Bar, which opened in November 1998 with the declared aim of being the highest of high-end downtown Seattle dining rooms and announced its closing last week with an ignominious note Scotch-taped to the door. Stars, modeled on Jeremiah Tower's legendary San Francisco eatery of the same name, had trouble living up to its ambitions from the beginning. Its landlord, the just-opened Pacific Place shopping center at Sixth and Pine, "wanted a big-drawing top-floor tenant to build traffic," says one longtime restaurant scene observer, "someplace with a high-end look but a moderate price point. Instead, they got the real thing. The people who can afford to pay Stars' prices don't shop a lot at J. Peterman or the Body Shop." Stars, in turn, expected to benefit from the Convention Center expansion and quick completion of a luxury hotel across the street. When neither development moved ahead as scheduled, red ink accumulated faster than expected. The restaurant's owners asked to renegotiate their rent downward; the owners of Pacific Place declined. "Our owner was considering his options when he heard about your earthquake," says S.F. Stars Operations Manager Lori Regis. "He may have just said to himself, 'Life happens,' and made his decision." Down under delights Apart from WTO Secretary General Mike Moore, New Zealand's most famous export is undoubtedly its lamb, which has been a staple of the British table since the first refrigerated freighter arrived in 1882. Chances are, you've dined out on N.Z. lamb even when the menu didn't mention it, but these days, the fresh imported product is so good it's worth boasting about: lean, tender, and flavorful. Issaquah-based New Zealand Pure is importing both fresh and frozen free-range, chemical-free lamb, along with farm-raised venison under the Cervena label, 14 handmade organic sheep- and cow-milk cheeses from Whitestone of Oamaru, and premium wines from Vavasour, Jackson Estate, Vidal Estate, and Nga Waka, including four exempla made from sauvignon blanc, a varietal that seems to take on a unique character down under. New Zealand Pure products are available at most specialty food markets and wine merchants in the Seattle-Eastside area. For information about an outlet near you, call Jennifer Sheath at 425-922-2832. Oscar madness If you're one of those folks always bemoaning the fact that Seattle affords you no chance to break out the long dress, the tux, and the patent-leather pumps, don't miss your chance Sunday, March 25, when W Seattle Hotel presents the fourth annual FilmAid Oscar Night to benefit local AIDS service organizations. The sumptuous buffet's by earth & ocean's Johnathan Sundstrom and Kyle Nelson, with desserts by Sue McKown designed to recall lobby-candy-counter joys of old. Tickets are $125, $250 for patrons, who get valet parking and a private lounge—apart from the expected madding crowd of 800—to view the Oscars in. Reservations and more info at 517-0529. Tidbits to share? E-mail

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