Auld Lang Dyne

Eat, drink, eat some more, and be merry.

The popping of corks may be the sound most closely associated with New Year's Eve, but unless the quieter sound of chewing accompanies it, a small army of overboozed, underfed Seattleites will find themselves greeting 2005 with monstrous headaches and very little depth perception. To spare you the anguish of needing New Year's Dayquil, we humbly suggest the following dinner options for Friday, Dec. 31. Everybody loved Capitol Hill's Cassis, but dry your tears: The late French eatery has lately been replaced by XO Bistro (2359 10th Ave. E., 206-328-6444). XO may need some time to endear itself to the Cassis crowd, but if the New Year's Eve menu is any indication, it won't need much. Lobster bisque, bouillabaisse, and seared duck breast with wild mushrooms are among the choices at XO's prix-fixe feast ($45), which concludes with either orange Grand Marnier cake or chocolate marquise. (Dinner from 5 p.m. until "nobody's left.") The folks at Maximilien (81A Pike St., 206-682-7270) know that eating French is as much a state of mind as a way to fill the plate, so they're continuing a New Year's Eve tradition: Parisian cabaret music to accompany a menu of salmon tartare, wild-mushroom bisque, crab salad, escargot, and seared salmon or duck breast ($69). (Seatings from 6 to 6:15 p.m. and 8:45 to 9 p.m.) For a more casual bistro bash, drop by Le Pichet (1933 First Ave., 206-256-1499) for live music and food and dessert specials modeled after traditional French New Year's Eve goodies. (The regular dinner menu is also available.) Best of all: No cover! (Dinner from 5 to 10 p.m.) Fish Club (2100 Alaskan Way, 206-256-1040) is putting seafood aside; their menu features entrée options like rabbit lasagna, stuffed quail, and venison. Your game dish of choice is served as part of a five-course feast ($75), with a festive glass of champagne in the bargain. (Dinner from 5 to 11 p.m.) Hip downtown Thai place Toi (1904 Fourth Ave., 206-267-1017) is trotting out its most popular dishes for a $35 prix-fixe affair; starters like marinated chicken wrapped in banana leaves lead the way to cilantro-tinged chicken salad, lemongrass-scented tom yum soup, one of several entrée choices (e.g. phad Thai, pineapple fried rice, seared prawns, three-flavored fish), and a traditional Thai dessert. (Dinner from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.) This year's à la carte menu at Serafina (2043 Eastlake Ave. E., 206-323-0807) is full of fancy Italian fare, including fettuccini with prawns, saffron, leeks, tomatoes, and herbs ($19.95), gnocchi in black truffle cream sauce ($19.50), roasted rack of lamb with flageolet beans and juniper-wine sauce ($32), and seared scallops in prosecco-blood orange sauce, with baby arugula and garlic mashed potatoes ($24.95), among many other equally gorgeous-sounding choices. (Dinner from 5 to 11 p.m.) Green Lake's fashionable BluWater Bistro (7900 E. Greenlake Dr. N., 206-524-3985) checks in this year with a $36 prix-fixe menu: field greens with sherry vinaigrette, spiced pecans, and gorgonzola; butternut squash soup with truffle oil; beef tenderloin and roasted lobster tail with root vegetables; and panna cotta with fruit for dessert. (Dinner from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.) If it's varied vintages you want, join the celebration at Flying Fish (2234 First Ave., 206-728-8595), where the wine list boasts more than 200 bottles. Planned specials include giant Mexican sea scallops with shaved Parmesan and lemon-butter sauce ($24.75) and grilled lamb chops with truffle potatoes and morel sauce ($25.80); various items from the regular menu will also be served. (Dinner from 5 p.m. to midnight.) Ragin' for some Cajun? Sazerac (1101 Fourth Ave., 206-624-7755) is open 'til midnight on New Year's Eve, serving chicken and sausage gumbo ($9.50) and the fresh catch of the day (market price) while a live band loosens up diners and the barkeeps do their part as well. (Dinner from 5 p.m. to midnight; bar open from 2:30 p.m. to close.) Finally, Monsoon (615 19th Ave. E., 206-325-2111) greets 2005 in elegant fashion with a tasting menu full of breathtaking Vietnamese-inspired fare. Choose between lobster bisque with black trumpets, grilled quail in coconut milk, and lobster wontons for the starter course, then cleanse your palate with lotus-stem salad before diving into seared ahi with poached banana blossoms, roasted pork with poached mango, or grilled rack of lamb with tamarind sauce. For $48, it could be the steal of the (new) year. (Seatings at 5, 6:45, and 8:30 p.m.)

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