After a late-afternoon trip to Uwajimaya (one of the best places in the world to shop for stocking stuffers), we decided to head up towards Capitol Hill and see what we could find for a drink or an early supper. After a little searching, we landed at Licorous, the lounge next door to Lark. I wasn’t sure I was hungry enough to tackle Lark for the first time, so the bar and small-plates menu at Licorous sounded perfect. We came in dripping from the rain and settled ourselves at the bar.

I’ve been working on my appreciation for bitter flavors lately, so I ordered the house negroni, along with the matched “tasting” – a small plate of serrano ham with sliced pears. I liked the pairing well enough, but wasn’t stunned. Love the concept, though. J got a bourbon cocktail called a Barbaro that came with two adorable “whiskey popovers” whose flavor really did go great with the bourbon.

While I was still working on my negroni, J decided to try something really different: geoduck ceviche. I’ve lived in Washington State nearly my whole life, and I do believe this was the first time I’ve eaten geoduck (I’m not sure I ever believed they were edible). As you might imagine, it’s rather like a cross between clams and squid, with a firm, resilient texture. The preparation was excellent, with chile, lime and young cilantro sprouts that perfectly complemented the shellfish. Not bad!

At this point, we should probably have finished up and headed somewhere for a more solid dinner, but our interest was piqued by the menu, so we continued with the small plates. J ordered a lamb chop with root vegetables, and I got a tiny cup of squash soup accompanied by a toast with sauerkraut and pork rillettes. Delicious! Then J ordered the cheese plate, which had three modest pieces of cheese: a manchego, a triple-cream and a soft goat cheese from Vermont that closely resembled Humboldt Fog. Each had a dab of condiment to go with it: the manchego had a mixture of sweet carrot and cumin (excellent pairing), the triple cream had some honey, and the goat cheese had a bit of huckleberry jam. I’m not big on sweet fruit or sauce with cheese, so I didn’t have much of the last two.

By now, we had been sitting there eating long enough that I felt like we must have had dinner, but I was still a bit hungry and wanting dessert. I wasn’t wild about the sweet options at Licorous, and was afraid that they weren’t big enough (I really hadn’t eaten very much) so we headed over to the Palace Kitchen for a piece of coconut creme pie.  That helped!

I thought this was a great place for when you want a cocktail and a modest nibble of something interesting before heading to a show. The staff was friendly and approachable (and very kind when I foolishly knocked over my wineglass full of Cabernet Franc all over the bar). The food was tasty and unusual, so we’ll definitely have to come back to work our way through more of the menu, and someday have a full dinner at Lark.

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