Seattle Times restaurant critic
7314 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle;
In 1996, Kathryn Neumann and Michael Hughes lent their artistic efforts to a Greenwood storefront, hired the first of a long line of creative chefs to make magic in their vegetarian kitchen, and opened Carmelita. Date-night right, family friendly, perfect for gatherings large or small and home to a dreamy little garden patio, it remains, a decade later, one of the city's better neighborhood bistros.
The menu, now under the direction of chef Kevin Fogarty, is as exciting as ever. In keeping with the better-bistro model, he and his crew use local, seasonal and organic produce, incorporate exceptional imported ingredients, pickle their own vegetables, make their own flatbread and knock customers out with food that tastes even better than it looks. Which is saying a lot when it looks like the grilled asparagus salad ($10). A poached egg's golden yolk is all the dressing those Yakima-grown stalks need.
What was that "wow" heard around the room on my last visit? It was me, dismantling a tower of toasts layered with tomato-lavender chutney and smearing each with Humboldt Fog chevre ($10) before taking a bite. And me again, shaking my head in awe when the strangest pizza combo I've ever eaten — cauliflower pesto, fresh mozzarella, pickled peppers, broccoli sprouts and preserved lemon ($16) — turned out to be among the best pizza combos I've ever encountered.
House standards like the antipasti platter ($12/$16) with its colorful complement of muhummara (a gutsy walnut-and-red-pepper spread) could make a meal. But then you'd miss out on the likes of handmade sweet-potato agnolotti with seared pears in pecan butter ($18), and "Five Vegetables in Crust," a cunning cross between a knish and a Chinese egg roll ($18).
Carmelita hours: 5-9 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, 5-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays (closed Mondays).
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company