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Friday, August 10, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Restaurant Review

New Edgewater restaurant earns its 'E' for enticing food

Special to The Seattle Times

The Edgewater Hotel had its 15 minutes of fame back in the '60s when four long-haired lads from Liverpool holed up there between concerts and fished off the balcony of their room. The red neon rooftop "E" has long been a navigational tool for ships and landlubbers alike. The hotel is a Seattle institution, but when was the last time you ate there?

If the answer is never, you are not alone. Heretofore, the restaurant at The Edgewater hasn't exactly been a dining destination. But the hotel's recent renovation extended to the dining room, recently reborn as Six Seven, christened after the pier on which it sits.

The less-than-inventive name hardly prepares you for the interior's flights of fancy involving tree bark, raw wood, stainless steel, glass, river rock, slate, fire and water. Bark-covered pillars posing as trees sprout bare limbs that bend at steel-hinged joints, creating an eerie forest stretching through the hotel lobby and into the bar and dining room.

Six Seven


Pier 67 (in the Edgewater Hotel), Seattle

**½

$$$

Reservations: 206-269-4575

Hours: breakfast 6:30-11 a.m. daily; lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily; dinner 5-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 5-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.

Prices: breakfast $8.50-$13.95; lunch appetizers $4.95-$11.95, entrees $8.95-$16.95; dinner appetizers $5.95-$15.95, entrees $16.95-$26.95.

Parking: discounted valet parking with validation.

Sound level: an excess of tree bark makes for great acoustics.

Contemplate this artificial Northwest woods while seated on a plexiglass chair balanced on springs, watching a wall of 16 video screens silently rolling national-park travelogues and you may wonder if you've stumbled onto the set of a Tim Burton movie.

More astonishing than the decor is the sea-level view through sliding-glass walls that open wide to the bustle and panorama of Elliott Bay. You are literally on the water, and boaters skim by so close to the edge of the outdoor deck they could almost snatch a lamb riblet from your sticky fingers.

Hold on to those full-flavored, faintly sweet, soy- and ginger-glazed bones, though. They're good, and they aren't cheap ($9.95/starter; $15.95/lunch entree). But even with a side of Asian slaw they won't fill you up like the $13.95 box lunch, combining soup, salad, noodles and your choice of salmon, sirloin or chicken.

If you are inclined to toss something overboard, send a tuna meatball sailing. Four of these thinly disguised balls of gefilte fish accompany "Peruvian-style" spaghetti ($16.95), which turns out to be linguine and crisp vegetables in a too-salty brown broth. It is one of very few items on executive chef Kevin Rohr's East-meets-West menu that I can't recommend with enthusiasm.

Appetizers inflate expectations of things to come. Buttery carrot essence kisses the soft cheeks of halibut pillowed on braised leek, shallot and scallions ($7.95). Thin scallops of salmon treated to a 20-second sauté merge beautifully with a tangy warm potato salad fragrant with dill and swathed in mustard-seed vinaigrette ($10.95). Mussels steamed in yellow Thai curry broth ($8.95) are guaranteed to tickle your tongue.

"Can you move your plates?" our server asks, arriving with the second course before the appetizer plates have been cleared. We obligingly adjust the handsome china to make room for seafood misto ($19.95), seared tuna ($23.95) and salmon "pot pie" ($17.95).

The bubbling earthy stew of salmon, mushrooms and black beans is spooned tableside over its crispy fried-noodle lid, a feat our server accomplishes with enough fumbling that we collectively hold our breath. Tuna steak, quickly seared and wearing a pungent spice rub, is in good company with long beans and asparagus cooked tempura-style and a rice cake that greedily soaks up all the wasabi and honey sauce. We can't wait to taste the tide pool of coconut milk perfumed with lemon grass and lime that moistens the seafood misto, an elegant catch of salmon, halibut, mussels, clams, rock shrimp and slices of lotus root, but we must. We have no spoons.

When the wine arrives, it is not the pinot gris we'd ordered, but pinot noir. Though friendly and sweet, Six Seven's inexperienced staff can be exasperating and certainly at odds with the sophisticated food and mood, not to mention the cost of dining here. If management hopes the natives will soon outnumber the tourists, some training is in order.

"Ooh, pretty sushi," says a server sauntering by, referring to our 10-piece sashimi plate ($15/chef's choice). The arrangement of tuna, yellowtail, salmon and sea scallop is indeed lovely and the fish is flavorful, but cut thicker than it should be. Sushi too is oversized, which makes for awkward eating, more so when the rice is mushy and the seaweed wrapper rubbery.

Like Six Seven, it looks good but could use a little more attention to details.

Providence Cicero can be reached at providencecicero@aol.com.

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