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R’s mom got to Seattle on Monday after taking a little over a week to drive here from Maine.  We are both so excited to have her in our city; she visited last fall and is an exceptional guest, a savvy traveler.  She is independent, confident enough to ask directions and talk to strangers about where to go and how to get there, but also content to spend an evening with us at home.  As such, we (okay, R) cooked for her Monday night; during dinner, she asked if there was a nice restaurant we could go to Tuesday.  A nice restaurant in Seattle?  I thought we could probably find something suitable.  (The real problem there is narrowing down.)  We talked about which neighborhood to go to, what kind of food we wanted to eat… But truthfully, the choice was easy: we celebrated with dinner at Kingfish Cafe.

Kingfish is a special place for R & I.  We’ve been there on date night and with groups, to celebrate new jobs and birthdays, and it’s inevitably a spot we recommend to out-of-town guests.  My sister has been; my Mom still talks about the fried green tomatoes and hush puppies we ate there during her visit in 2005.  I’ve done brunch, I’ve done lunch, I’ve done dinner.  And almost everything I’ve ordered or tasted from the kitchen at Kingfish has been spectacular, the kind of food that makes me plot all through dinner how I could recreate the meal at home, wondering if I have the skill and the soul to make it taste even half as good as they do.

Southern food is on this menu: blackened catfish or salmon, fried chicken, hoppin’ john, gumbo, duck or ribs if you are lucky, etc.  Mmm mmm mmm!  R had a braised pork shank with honey sauce; one touch of his fork caused the meat to languidly disintegrate off the bone, almost a swoon.  His mom & I had crab cakes with no bread crumb filler in sight, sides of roasted yams, cole slaw and slow-cooked greens.  I hope you’re not imagining a styrofoam clamshell container with greasy food slopped in; this is high-class, pretty food, but man! does it taste like someone’s grandma has been in the kitchen all week long.  The bar is well-stocked; drinks are strong but taste good.  R ordered his standard Kentucky lemonade, the perfect ratio of sweet-tart lemonade and good bourbon.  The ladies opted for white cosmos, made with white grape juice instead of cranberry, and there may have been more than one of those brought to our table…

Dessert gets its own paragraph.  The clever servers test your familiarity with the dessert menu by “forgetting” to mention portion-size.  An uninitiated diner might order his own slice of chocolate cake, but those in the know understand that said slice will feed the entire table and leave enough to take home for the next day, and maybe the day after that.  Chocolate cake with mint frosting was our choice: rich, moist cake, frosting that had just the right amount of mint flavoring, luscious dollops of whipped cream to tie it all together.  There’s still half a piece in my fridge if you want to run over for a bite.  (But you might want to run fast.)

A good time was had by all.  We are thankful to have a restaurant like Kingfish Cafe in Seattle, glad to have had the opportunity to share a meal there with a lovely woman we both love dearly, and eager for the next excuse to go back.  My sister will be here in November…