coterie room poutine
Image: Olivia Brent
Coterie Room's extraordinary poutine.

Are you really going to ask me to rate Seattle's most decadent appetizers in order?

Well, alright, here we go. From the bottom:

#5: Dungeness Deviled Eggs at Madison Park Conservatory. How can luscious whipped egg topped with fat hunks of Dungeness crab not be the best damn thing you ever ate, particularly when lavished with Spanish paprika? Let me qualify that Dungeness is frequently more interesting in theory than in practice, its charms being soft ones flavor-wise, but for richness and (it has to be said)--mouthfeel, this one rocks.

#4: Foie Gras Sliders at RN74. There would be a riot if these little fellers left the menu at downtown's happy hour haunt of choice, a Michael Mina chain that's always better than one expects it to be. Preparations vary, but the general gist is a slice of the elegant unctuous duck liver (Hudson Valley, no less) presented between buns with caramelized onion in some form and a sweet counterpoint like apple mustard or Bartlett pear. The sweets, the savories, the push and pull of textures--it's just about perfect, every time.

#3: Poutine at Coterie Room. Poutine, you'll agree, being a heart attack in edible form, is surely Canada's revenge against its brazen neighbor to the south. That said, enjoy it while you're young--preferably at Coterie Room, which pulls it off with as much nuance and delicacy as can be applied to a dish made of French fries, cheese curds, and pork gravy. Here the gravy is flavorful with lots of braised pork, the cheese is crisp-fried Beecher's curds, the fries are scattered with herbs, and on top sits a refreshing mess of frisky greens. Dig in!

#2: Souffle Potato Crisps at Luc. What French fries only dream of being, Thierry Rautureau's souffle potato crisps are softly puffed from within to create crisp-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside pillows of, well, heaven. Apparently it's hard-earned goodness--these babies are blanched, cooled, and thrice-fried over several hours--but all that labor yields a simply sensational product, so wicked that the fact they arrive with dipping aioli is hilarious.

 #1. Tempura Fried Kurobuta Bacon at John Howie Steak. Good luck ordering these puppies on the sly: they come, five slices to an order, poking vertically out of a tall glass (on a bed of laughable lettuce) as if to shout, "Oh yes, this slob was proud to order me!" But proud you will be when you discover that coating thick-cut, high-quality bacon with an angelic coat of tempura isn't just some county-fair stunt; it's genuinely good eating, especially when embellished with chile-edged maple sambal sauce and paired with the kind of libation that makes double-fried bacon the least of your worries.