Want Fries With That?

Out with the old, in with the new; ketchup in a squeeze bottle, please.

THE BIG NEWS in West Seattle this week is that Luna Park Cafe now serves French fries. Seriously, folks, this is huge. How on earth the very echt, kitschy old-school diner (tabletop jukeboxes, ketchup in red squeeze bottles) has gotten by for all these years without a deep fryer, I really can't say; I suppose those infamously thick, decadent hand-dipped milk shakes are at least partially responsible. At any rate, a former part-owner of the Avalon Way landmark is now the owner-owner, and among the various cute boy waiters (this is where preteen girls go to learn how to swoon) is a new management team, and they're really pushing the Brand New French Fries and the burgers. According to our research, however, you'll do better with the burgers a few blocks east at the recently reopened Madison's Cafe on Delridge Way. Longtime West Seattle favorite Madison's became Steel Sky Bistro about three years ago; when its owners threw in the towel, a group with fond memories of the Madison's swooped in and reinvented the atmosphere and menu that gave the space its solid reputation. They're the kind of folks who speak of West Seattle as a distinct little city; when they say they're "going downtown," they don't mean First Avenue and Pike Street, they mean they're headed up to "the Junction" (that's the junction of California Avenue and S.W. Alaska Street, gringo). They're also, apparently, the kinds of folks who really believe in steak; they put it on pizza and in salads and they offer about six or seven varieties at dinnertime. At breakfast (weekends only), the house-made corned beef and roast beef hash are huge draws, and at lunch, you'd be hard pressed to find a better burger on their side of the bridge—served on an Essential Bakery roll with a cup of their fabulous Anaheim chile–spiked creamy tomato soup. While we're on that side of the bridge, let me take a minute to say, yes, this is my hood of choice, and since recreational demographics suggest that 87.4 percent of Seattle residents identifying as "foodies" also live on that side of the bridge, I've always felt justified in slanting my coverage ever so slightly toward this neck of the woods, and many of you have written in support of that. Of late, however, we've also received a lot of feedback from readers that we're not doing a good job of covering the outer nabes and the burbs. We want to do better, but we need your help. I've told you before: I like it when you tell me where to go (and an upcoming column will feature my reviews of your most recent directives), so speak up, Kirkland, Shoreline, Issaquah, Lynnwood! Tell us about your favorite out-of-the-way spots and who knows, maybe they'll become our favorites as well. Au Bouchon in the Wallingford Center has closed. Where, oh where, will you get your cassoulet now? I suggest you try one of the two now on the menu at Madison Park Cafe, specifically the somewhat nontraditional version by chef Brian O'Connor, who likes to veer his classic French cuisine just slightly to the left of center. We were angling for O'Connor to get a nomination for this year's James Beard "rising star" award (given to promising chefs under 30), but it went to some guy named Christopher Lee in Philly. Oh well. This year wasn't a banner one for local chefs in general: Scott Carsberg of Lampreia, Joseba Jimenez de Jimenez of Harvest Vine, Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita, and Johnathan Sundstrom of Lark were all nominated for a James Beard award as Best Chef in the Northwest/Hawaii region, but Vitaly Paley of Paley's Place in Portland took the prize. lcassidy@seattleweekly.com

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