Hot Dish

Toes uncurled The Kirkland branch of Ludger Szmania's two-restaurant mini-chain always struck us as one of the area's most down-to-earth eateries. No longer: As if possessed by the Chichi Demon, Szmania's Lakeside has morphed into Jäger—"where the kitchen meets the bar!" The new era isn't so noticeable kitchenwise, though dishes are no longer divided into appetizers, main courses, etc., but into "speeds": fast, medium, and slow. You can snack on smoked-trout salad (fast), crab cake (medium), or seared ahi (slow; don't ask us why tuna is slow and salad is fast—we didn't come up with this). It's the bar offerings devised by Ryan Margarian of Cathy Casey Food Studios that suggest the cocktail lineup at Jabba the Hut's Mos Eisley Cantina. We don't have room to list all the drinks Jäger's "liquid chefs" are eager to whip up for you, but a few will give you the general idea. Consider, for example, the Summerthyme, composed of "hand-crushed pineapple" with gin, passion fruit, lime, fresh thyme, and Angostura bitters. Or perhaps you thirst for a Hemingway: rum, pureed cherries, maraschino liqueur, lime, and bitters, sprinkled with rum-soaked dry cherries as a garnish. The Health cocktail features fresh basil and yellow bell pepper with lime, grapefruit, and vanilla vodka. The Katana is vodka and sake trimmed with cucumber and raw tuna. But the scariest item of all—devised, perhaps, for an Atkins dieter with a mighty thirst—is Jäger's specialty cocktail the Hunter: "Ice cold Horseradish-infused vodka with a suggestion of Grand Marnier garnished with a grilled beef tenderloin tip." It may well be that, as the menu promises, a taste of any of the above drinks "will excite your palate and curl your toes." But how, short of two liquid chefs holding you down while a third pours the drink down your throat, are you going to work up the courage to find out? Goat world King Conservation District (KCD) envisions a time when goats coexist with the clippers and the lawn mower in every garden shed. (Note to PETA: We don't mean that literally.) The agency is currently seeking urban property owners willing to take on a pair of goats for a two-week trial in August. Last year, KCD successfully deployed 120 weed-eating goats to rural areas south of Seattle. This season's goats will come from two natural vegetation-management firms: the Eastern Washington–based Healing Hooves and a Seattle enterprise called Goat Busters. Goats eat a wide variety of weeds—including blackberries, knotweed, morning glory, and English ivy. Organizers will do their part to help prevent the goats from bingeing on nonweeds by setting up temporary electric fences in the designated areas. If you're interested in hosting goats this summer, call KCD at 206-764-3410, ext. 103, or e-mail Wurst-case scenario Pino Rogano, the man behind the sausage at Matt's in the Market, Dandelion, Serafina, and many other eateries around town, has teamed up with Salvatore Lembo of Ristorante Firenze to open a restaurant in Renton. Their joint venture, Ristorante da Pino, inhabits the edifice that once housed Gene's. How Ristorante da Pino will fare, with entrée prices ranging from $10 to $20, remains to be seen. One thing's for sure, however: Rogano's passion for the culinary craft, which resonates all the more when explained in his charmingly thick Italian accent, recalls the age-old culinary maxim "Never question a man and his sausage." Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at

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