At this sophisticated Kirkland restaurant, every meal seems to come together effortlessly and deliciously. Even the humble radicchio salad ($11) is wondrous: The peppery chicory is tossed with a sweet balsamic glaze thick with Parmigiano-Reggiano. But salad likely doesn’t provide ample proof of chef and owner Holly Smith’s cunning palate and precise cooking, so then: pasta as soft as flower petals wearing a lush pork ragu ($27); a pork steak ($36), so impressively sourced from Spain, so impeccably prepared and so impossibly steak-like (this is pork?) that it’s a marvel of flavor and texture. Servers describe dishes new and iconic—such as Smith’s renowned fork-tender rabbit under a resplendent Arneis sauce (pictured), so buttery and elegant it’s like the finest cashmere blanket ($36)—with true enthusiasm and sound understanding. Of course, a bottle of good Italian wine will be poured; engage wine director Kyle Brierley, who’ll walk you through the impressive list. Soft amber light, warm house-made crackers and bread with soft salty butter, vanilla panna cotta so ethereal it’s like a wistful memory on the tongue—fine dining indeed.
Dinner Tue.-Sun. Kirkland, 9702 NE 120th Pl.; 425.823.1505; cafejuanita.com