It's open! No, it's not! No, it is, really! No, sorry, now it's not. But it seems that Vivanda, the new Mediterranean-focused eatery in Pike Place that was supposed to open in May, is at last fully operational. Fish specials like gazpacho-dressed seafood in a martini glass, spot prawns in grappa-tomato cream, and fennel and tomato bisque with tiger prawns look tasty. But hasn't anybody in the kitchen heard yet that Chilean sea bass is an endangered species?
NEWS ON YOUR PLATE
Some restaurants are getting downright educational with their menus, recognizing that people aren't going to order what they've never had and probably can't even pronounce. Il Fornaio in Pacific Place has always done a monthly regional Italian menu, but new diners surveying the lineup of dishes also get detailed descriptions of each dish alongside the culinary Italian, a map showing the province of Italy whose specialties you're about to eat, a miniguide to the province's food resources, and an essay from the chef who created the menu. You'll never be afraid to order gnocchi al sugo d'agnello again.
Down Fourth at Sazerac in the Hotel Monaco, they're taking a homier approach. Wrapped around your breakfast, lunch, or dinner menu, you'll find a four-page minitabloid titled the Post-Picayune. In line with chef-partner Jan "Big Dawg" Birnbaum's motto "American food with a southern accent," the P-P has regional recipes like peach grunt and gumbo for you to read while waiting for your Cajun-style crab chowder or flash-fried catfish. (There's even a crossword, but hopefully you won't have to wait that long.)
THE LIST LIST
Seattle's doing all right, according to the editors of Food & Wine. Not only is Tamara Murphy of Brasa in their July restaurant survey as one of "America's Superchefs," Tova Cubert's wine list at Supreme in Madrona turns up as one of the magazine's 10 best new wine lists for '02. Cubert wins kudos for the simplicity and clarity of her 42-item list, carefully categorized and annotated.
July 15 Last chance to sample the barbecue magic of Tom Douglas at the Palace Kitchen—$25 gets you a platter of ribs, brisket, chicken, and salmon laved with Douglas' Redhook Beer-based sauces, plus samples of Red Hook brew to wash it down, starting at 5 p.m.
Don't throw out those dregs of sour, stale coffee: Turns out there's nothing like java for repelling slugs from the vegetables in your garden. USDA scientists in Hilo, Hawaii, have found that a 2 percent solution of caffeine (or just old, cold coffee) poured around your plants not only repels our slimy unwanted guests but often kills them.
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