Canlis, The Herbfarm, Wild Ginger, Dahlia Lounge, and more: We sent our restaurant critic back to Seattle and the Eastside’s most enduring dining spots to see if they still pass muster.

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Restaurant critics are often at the mercy of the new, scrambling to keep up with current culinary hotspots — especially in a place like the Northwest, where restaurants open and close faster than a diner can say, “Check please!”

This year, The Seattle Times decided to buck the trend, dispatching critic Providence Cicero to find out if the city’s enduring classics — Canlis, Wild Ginger, Cafe Juanita and other stalwarts — remain prime dining destinations.

We call this ongoing series of reviews Second Helpings, and we’re still seeking nominations of restaurants to include. If there’s a place you’d like to see Cicero revisit, let us know in the comments thread.

Some notes: All star ratings are on a scale of one (adequate) to four (exceptional). The reviews appear in reverse chronological order, starting with the one published most recently. And finally: Menus, opening hours and even chefs change frequently; call ahead to confirm.

 

The shrimp ceviche with grilled corn and stone fruit at Seastar.  (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
The shrimp ceviche with grilled corn and stone fruit at Seastar. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

Seastar ??

205 108th Ave. N.E., Bellevue; 425-456-0010, seastarrestaurant.com

SEAFOOD: Over the last 13 years, chef John Howie’s popular seafood spot has become a home away from home for many Eastside diners. Day or night, midweek or weekend, those 200 seats are full.

Read the full August 27, 2015, review here.

 


Cioppino, with prawns, mussels, clams and calamari, at The Pink Door. (Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times)
Cioppino, with prawns, mussels, clams and calamari, at The Pink Door. (Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times)

The Pink Door ???

1919 Post Alley, Seattle; 206-443-3241, thepinkdoor.net

ITALIAN: After more than three decades, smart service and able Italian cuisine make this Seattle classic worth revisiting. And even better, you’ll be entertained by sequined aerialists, tarot-card readers and burlesque queens.

Read the full June 26, 2015, review here.

 


 

An American Wagyu long-bone rib-eye, from Snake River Farms in Boise, is grilled over mesquite coals and served with poblano pepper, scalloped potatoes and asparagus at The Metropolitan Grill.  (John Lok/The Seattle Times)
An American Wagyu long-bone rib-eye, from Snake River Farms in Boise, is grilled over mesquite coals and served with poblano pepper, scalloped potatoes and asparagus at The Metropolitan Grill. (John Lok/The Seattle Times)

Metropolitan Grill ???

820 Second Ave., Seattle; 206-624-3287, themetropolitangrill.com

STEAKHOUSE: The downtown landmark steakhouse still pleases after more than 30 years. The cost of a steak dinner for two with the works at The Met easily exceeds the average monthly car payment. But those of us who aren’t moguls, tech movers-and-shakers or Seahawks can be regulars at lunch, when soups, sandwiches and entrees are more in line with what the hoi polloi can afford.

Read the full April 23, 2015, review here.

 


 

Dungeness crab cakes with beets and celery root rémoulade at Dahlia Lounge. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)
Dungeness crab cakes with beets and celery root rémoulade at Dahlia Lounge. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

Dahlia Lounge ???½?

2001 Fourth Ave., Seattle; 206-682-4142, tomdouglas.com

ECLECTIC: The flagship of the Tom Douglas restaurant empire is still as good as it was when last reviewed in 2000. The service is fluent, the cooking sophisticated but approachable, and the exuberant atmosphere is retro with just a pinch of irony. They don’t make restaurants like this anymore.

Read the full Jan. 1, 2015, review here.

 


 

The Georgian’s pastrami-spice king salmon with crackly, salty fried salmon skin, vegetables  and a cannelloni of Dungeness crab and Asian tiger prawn. (John Lok / The Seattle Times)
The Georgian’s pastrami-spice king salmon with crackly, salty fried salmon skin, vegetables and a cannelloni of Dungeness crab and Asian tiger prawn. (John Lok / The Seattle Times)

The Georgian ???

411 University St. (Fairmont Olympic Hotel), Seattle; 206-621-7889, fairmont.com/seattle/dining/thegeorgian/

FRENCH/NORTHWEST: Slip into an upholstered armchair at The Georgian in the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, where uniformed staff valet parks your car (complimentary after 5 p.m.), takes your coat and fluffs your linen napkin (a black one if you are wearing dark attire). Yes, dinner’s a splurge, but the three- and five-course tasting menus at $72 and $99 with paired wines amount to a high-end value meal.

Read the full Nov. 27, 2014, review here.

 


 

An assortment of nigiri. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
An assortment of nigiri. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

Shiro’s Sushi ??½

2401 Second Ave., Seattle; 206-443-9844, shiros.com

JAPANESE/SUSHI: Twenty years after Shiro Kashiba opened his eponymous Belltown restaurant, people still wait for a seat at the sushi bar, even though Shiro-San is no longer there to welcome all comers with a hearty “Irasshimasen.” Without Shiro, however, Shiro’s turns out to be remarkably unchanged since The Seattle Times reviewed it last in 2007.

Read the full Oct. 30, 2014, review here.

 


 

Antipasto plates offer a variety of vegetables, seafood and cured meat at Il Terrazzo Carmine. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)
Antipasto plates offer a variety of vegetables, seafood and cured meat at Il Terrazzo Carmine. (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

Il Terrazzo Carmine ???½??

411 First Ave. S., Seattle; 206-467-7797, www.ilterrazzocarmine.com

ITALIAN: Il Terrazzo Carmine, an Italian restaurant in Pioneer Square,  was and still is unapologetically old school. Gracious waiters, male and female alike, wear black neckties, and their white jackets are as starched and pressed as the napkins they drape over their wrists to serve antipasto assortito, a daily-changing risotto, wine and more Italian favorites.

Read the full Aug. 29, 2014, review here.

 


 

Brunch at the Dining Room at Salish Lodge: Smoked Washington Salmon Skillet. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)
Brunch at the Dining Room at Salish Lodge: Smoked Washington Salmon Skillet. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

The Dining Room at Salish Lodge ?

6501 Railroad Ave. S.E., Snoqualmie; 800-2-SALISH (800-272-5474); www.salishlodge.com

CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN: The Dining Room at Salish Lodge alongside Snoqualmie Falls has the setting and the prices to match its fine-dining aspirations but needs to forgo the gimmicks and concentrate instead on delivering quality meals. Brunch still satisfies.

Read the full Aug. 22, 2014, review here.

 


 

“Fragrant Duck,” served with steamed buns, is a Wild Ginger classic.  (Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times)
“Fragrant Duck,” served with steamed buns, is a Wild Ginger classic. (Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times)

Wild Ginger ? ? ?

1401 Third Ave., Seattle (206-623-4450, www.wildginger.net)

PAN-ASIAN: One of Seattle’s most famous restaurants, Wild Ginger has been serving delectable Pan-Asian meals to regulars and tourists alike for a quarter-century — and it’s as good as ever.

Read the full Aug. 15, 2014, review here.

 


 

Yellowtail cruda is surrounded by coriander leaves, slivered snap peas and crisp puffed-rice grains. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
Yellowtail cruda is surrounded by coriander leaves, slivered snap peas and crisp puffed-rice grains. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

Cafe Juanita ???½

9702 N.E. 120th Place, Kirkland (425-823-1505; www.cafejuanita.com)

NORTHERN ITALIAN: Serving fine Northern Italian fare with flavors borrowed from all over that country, Cafe Juanita in Kirkland maintains a high level of excellence established by chef Holly Smith. Well-trained staff bring fresh pasta, rich fish and meat dishes and dainty desserts to well-laid tables.

Read the full Aug. 8, 2014, review here. 

 


 

The first course in the “Nine Songs of Summer”: a bouquet of vegetables and blossoms, finely diced ham and an omelet rolled to look like a flower petal. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
The first course in the “Nine Songs of Summer”: a bouquet of vegetables and blossoms, finely diced ham and an omelet rolled to look like a flower petal. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

The Herbfarm ???

14590 N.E. 145th St., Woodinville (425-485-5300; www.theherbfarm.com)

CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN: After 40 years, a succession of talented chefs, a devastating fire and a relocation to Woodinville, The Herbfarm is still a Northwest classic — just beware of the upsell.

Read the full Aug. 1, 2014, review here.


The Matsutake mushroom, with chicken liver mousee, sauterne and purslane. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)
The Matsutake mushroom, with chicken liver mousee, sauterne and purslane. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

Canlis ???½

2576 Aurora Ave. N., Seattle; 206-283-3313, canlis.com

CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN: We should all age as gracefully as Canlis. The elegant, art-filled aerie feels timeless. Mark and Brian Canlis say, “It’s because Canlis keeps changing that people love it.” There is nowhere else like it in Seattle.

Read the full Oct. 25, 2013, review here.


 Locations of featured restaurants:

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