Christmas Dining

Bring a fork, Jeanette isabella: Holiday dining without tears Crisp winter air stinging your nose, brightly lit Christmas trees lining crowded downtown streets, inexplicably long concerts at every elementary school in town, and a seemingly endless supply of food—like it or not, the holidays are here. Your present to yourself? We suggest a festive, low- maintenance meal. Order by Dec. 22 If fighting restaurant crowds sounds like a hassle, stay home and feast on wild rice soup, garlic mashed potatoes, baby broccoli, fresh rolls from Macrina Bakery, and beef tenderloin ($155 for six hungry people) from Pasta & Co., which has outposts in University Village (2640 N.E. University Village, 206-523-8594) and on Queen Anne Hill (2109 Queen Anne Ave. N., 206.283.1182). There's even peppermint cheesecake for dessert! Dec. 24 Prodigal chef Walter Pisano has lately returned to Tulio (1100 Fifth Ave., 206-624-5500), and his first big comeback project is a seafood-rich holiday menu. Cod stew ($9), tuna carpaccio ($12), and crab ravioli ($19) are among the Italian standbys gussied up, Northwest-style, for the Christmas Eve menu, served from 5 to 9 p.m. Seemingly left behind when its Kirkland sister restaurant turned high-concept, serving meat-garnished cocktails and food organized by "speeds," poor little Szmania's (3321 W. McGraw St., 206-284-7305) still has plenty of love to give this Christmas Eve between 4:30 and 8:30 p.m., including roasted grain-fed goose and traditional German sides like red cabbage ($23.50). In a similar vein, Kaspar's (19 W. Harrison St., 206-298-0123) wants to be your Continental oasis on the night before Christmas. The prix-fixe menu ($45), served from 5 to 9 p.m., ranges from smoked salmon and Penn Cove mussels with lemon-pepper aïoli to sweet-potato gnocchi and pheasant-and-duck terrine with cranberry sauce. At meal's end, expect a lavish dessert sampler. (Children's menu also available.) Dec. 25 Each year on Christmas Day, one of the best meal deals at town is at Northgate's Masala of India (539 N.E. Northgate Way, 206-417-1118), where Americana and Subcontinent meet in a lavish, Indian- influenced holiday buffet ($13.95). From 11:30 a.m. until 8 p.m., enjoy turkey baked in tandoor ovens, curried turkey, veggie pakoras, saag paneer (spinach and cheese in a savory sauce), and even a free cup of eggnog—alcoholic or non-, depending on your preference. Seattle Weekly's dining out guide changes every week, has nothing to do with advertising, and is compiled from reports by staff writers. E-mail comments/beefs to

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