One of the city’s top tables is across Lake Washington in the Eastside suburb of Kirkland. Here, chef Holly Smith’s northern Italian cuisine has a Pacific Northwest bent; with the exception of a few artisanal products from the old country (like truffles from Piedmonte), most of her ingredients come from nearby organic farms. The roasted saddle of Oregon lamb is a must no matter how it’s prepared (it might be offered drizzled with a huckleberry reduction or paired with a chickpea purée, fava beans, and spicy yogurt); so is an appetizer of pears with Parmigiano Reggiano and white truffle oil. The dining room has hardwood floors, dove-colored walls, and banquette seating that ends in a cozy corner nook facing a small fireplace (perfect for couples). The best tables are next to a row of windows overlooking the verdant backyard. As you dine, you can eavesdrop on moneyed Eastside regulars as they discuss the tribulations of running their own restaurants and wine shops.
Tip: Save room for dessert—especially the house-made gelatos in unusual flavors like avocado.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.