Owner Tom Douglas and Chef Stuart Lane have a winner in their South Lake Union eatery CUOCO. Cuoco means "cook" and they do it very well there. I have tried both Lunch and Dinner and I find the atmosphere, food, drink, and total experience to be very satisfying - not inexpensive - but worth the tab.
It is especially nice to have a great high end food place for lunch. Tom Douglas is one of the few Seattle restauranteurs to offer lunch with panache at all his places.
My first visit wasa "play-date" lunch with a friend and a couple 2-3 year old charges. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in a very grownup atmosphere. Fortunately, the atmosphere is noisy and happy with lots of 6 plus person groups and fairly casual wood table seating. The chef made an off the menu simple bocotini with a butter and light cheese sauce for our young girls and they loved it.
The second visit was a nice diner group of 6 with very good drinks and a nice leisurely dinner.
One of the things they do very well at Cuoco is of the moment, fresh appetisers that are innovate, simple, beautiful, and tasty. Their pastas are world class - better than Spinasse where we have dined many times. Stuart Lane developed the great fresh pasta program at Cafe Juanita when he worked there for Holly Smith, and also briefly cooked at Cuscina Spainasse when we had our 2 best meals there.
The various dishes we tried on our 2 visits are listed below. All were of the best, freshest ingredients, cooked perfectly. If I have any complaint it is that in their quest for simplicity they tend to under season many of their dishes. Unfortunately, you cannot get the really incredible ingredient taste enhancement benefits of salt in a dish by adding it as a diner at the table - it really has to be blended in before and during cooking.
dishes we tried and liked:
La tur cheese, cherries, walnuts, arugula
Burrata cheese, olive oil, macerated figs, olive crostini
24 month Parma prosciutto with arugula, olive oil, and griddled bread
Fava beans, whey poached egg, pecorino stagionato cheese
Roasted cauliflower, chickpea, vin santo grapes
Corn Salad - roasted fresh corn with great cherry tomatos
Bucatini pasta, Marinara, young goat meatballs
Spaghetti, garlic, anchovy, breadcrumbs, chili flakes, parmigiano cheese with grilled prawns
Risotto with Diver scallops, sweet sicily, chives, olio verde
Seven layer lasagna, bolognese, besciamella, parmigiano
Dry aged Washington rib steak, grilled country bread, roasted cherry
peppers, beacon hill arugula, lambrusco spring onions
Apricot Crostada with rosemary ice cream
Espresso over vanilla gelato
This place is a winner - go there - especially great for groups which is hard to do well in other "fine dining" places and formats.