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Wednesday, October 26, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Taste of the Town

New restaurants, upscale billiards and an Irish pub

Seattle Times restaurant critic

When last we discussed Lincoln Square, the big news was that downtown Bellevue's happening high-rise development was to include a Trader Vic's, slated to open in December. The Trader's ETA has now been pushed by a coupla-few months (think: late Feb, early March), but another big-name tenant is due to open its doors Nov. 7.

Attention Bellevue shoppers! If all goes as scheduled, you may soon be "doing lunch" at the newest McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant (Lincoln Square, 700 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue; 425-454-2606). What? No time for a triple-decker salmon club with gaufrette chips? Too busy for Idaho trout with hazelnut lemon butter? Well there's always dinner, when — as by day — you can peruse the fresh sheet, offering 30 different seafoods, sourced locally and globally.

Or you can do as they do at Mick & Schmick's in downtown Seattle (1103 First Ave.; 206-623-5500): show up for happy-hour, take a drink in the bar and knock back a cheeseburger on the cheap ($1.95). Lunch will be served 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, dinner 4-11 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and from 4-10 p.m. Sundays. Happy hour: 4-6 p.m. daily and late-night, too (after 9:30 Mondays-Saturdays, after 9 Sundays).

Everybody into the pool!

Slated to join Mick, Schmick and Trader Vic at Lincoln Center in December is a newcomer sure to shake things up: The Parlor Billiards and Spirits — a $4 million, 20,000 square-foot entertainment space billed as "the Northwest's premier, full-service, upscale billiards hall."

We're talking eats (wood-grilled jalapeños, mini crabcakes, pizzas, burgers), drinks (from a 42-foot bar where vodka is stored on iced shelving), and 43 pool tables (including 17 regulation nine-footers) sure to spell trouble right here in Kemper Freeman's City.

The Parlor will be open from 10 a.m. till 2 a.m.; plans to warmly welcome women; and is offering lessons, among other amenities, for pros and beginners alike. Amenities like pager-wearing servers willing to offer advice regarding your shot, whether it's a frozen Stoli or one directed toward the left center pocket; 10 plasma-screen TVs; a completely nonsmoking environment; and private pool rooms (can you say "Bachelor Party"?).

This is the decades-long dream of Steven Olson, a 43-year-old dentist and former college billiards champ who just gave up his million-dollar-a-year practice in Lynnwood to do what he's been, er, racking up his dental-dollars to do: open a fancified pool hall. Way to go, doc! We'll be smiling at you in Bellevue soon.

Lifting the Veil

It's been many months since word got out about the impending opening of Veil (555 Aloha St., Seattle; 206-216-0600), set to offer "progressive American cuisine" in a slick little 45-seat bar and its adjoining 50-seat dining room. But this week chef Shannon Galusha and managing partner Erik Lindstrom set an opening date: Nov. 11.

Excitement about the mysteriously named Veil has been building at a steady clip: one that's moved faster than the build-out of the restaurant itself, which straddles the corner of Aloha and Taylor streets, near Seattle Center. (Note: If you play restaurant geography, it's one block east of Crow, Sushi Land and Panos Klefteko.)

Galusha, late of 727 Pine, is an alumnus of the French Laundry. His menu reflects the finer things better farmers, fishmongers and ranchers have to offer. Things like Kobe beef cheeks with red onion cream and tomato confit ($9), halibut pavé with braised short ribs ($20) and a $65 tasting menu that might begin with toro belly drizzled with 100-year-old balsamico. Scheduled hours: 5-10 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, bar and lounge open till 2 a.m.

They've got Moxie

Back when Peter Morrison was chef at Chez Shea — a position he held for five years — he met Lauri Allen Carter, then chef-exec at Avenue One but more recently found working magic at Matt's in the Market. Today the duo are gearing up for the December opening of Moxie (530 First Ave. N.), creating a new restaurant where the recently shuttered Nonna Maria once stood.

"This is a project I've been working on for about six years — ever since I left Chez Shea," says Morrison, who has since made his living as a sales-rep for a local food-distribution company and for Westcott Bay Sea Farms — selling the oyster-purveyor's locally grown European Flats from New York to Hong Kong. "When I had version number 64 of the business-plan finished, I realized I didn't want to do this thing myself," Morrison recalls. And in that light-bulb moment, he also realized he'd "rather be the business guy, not the chef." Enter his pal Lauri.

"Originally we were hoping to pull off what John Howie did with Sport, and open a sports-friendly place with decent food," Morrison says. "But as we traveled along the financing road, we realized we couldn't sell that project to anybody but ourselves." The pair have since signed off on business plan number 65: a bar with a Northwest seafood-oriented menu and a strong appetizer bent, offering dinner till 11 p.m. Now busily remodeling their new restaurant, Morrison says, "The energy and the vision that Lauri and I share is what's going to make this work." To which I say: save me a seat at the bar and a dozen Euro-flats on the half-shell.

It IS easy bein' green

Helping make downtown Burien's main drag one of Greater Seattle's new neighborhood hot spots are Mick Purdy and Adrian Kelly, whose 6-week-old Irish pub, Mick Kelly's (435 S.W. 152nd St., Burien; 206-246-2473), is already gaining a fine following. Purdy — a Normandy Park resident — is no newcomer to pub ownership. Wallingfordians may recognize him as the Irishman who brought them O'Shea's Easy Street Pub (309 N.E. 45th St., Seattle; 206-547-6832).

Here in Burien, folks are stopping by to shoot pool, play darts, lift a pint and sit down to Irish classics like Harp-battered fish 'n chips, Guinness beef stew and corned beef and cabbage (less than $10, all). The menu's rounded out by the usual pub grub: cheese fries, buffalo wings, salads, sandwiches and burgers. After 5 p.m., steaks and pastas ($10.45-$18.95) are added to the bill o' fare.

Word has it that Saturday afternoon is soccer-kiddie-city, when the wee ones join their parents and clamor for mac 'n cheese. Weekends bring an all-American breakfast menu and, on Sundays, a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Fridays, 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m.-midnight Sundays, with breakfast served till 1 p.m. on weekends.

Nancy Leson: 206-464-8838 or taste@seattletimes.com.

See more columns at seattletimes.com/nancyleson.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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