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Cauliflower does not get the love it deserves. Long lumped by picky children into the same category as Brussels sprouts and lima beans, it rarely makes a menu at all, let alone earns center stage. But it should. Like mushrooms, cauliflower soaks up the flavors around it, and if cooked correctly, is so rich as to seem creamy-especially if you've stuffed it with mascarpone, beurre blanc, and other fatty delights inside a crepe. Carmelita chef Carlos Caula reveres cauliflower as if it were the vegetarian's filet mignon, throwing it into every section of the menu from soup to entrée. Caula does not believe that vegetarian food need be bland or-as evidenced by his generous use of cheeses-healthy. Carmelita doesn't always come through with the same commitment to vegan dishes, but it's perfect for proving to your relatives in town from Chicago that vegetarian really can be hearty and delicious.
This place is living on its reputation. Since recently moving from the east coast from an area with little to offer in veg restaurants, we were eagerly looking forward to trying the many good ones in Seattle. We heard Carmelita was one of the best - but turned out to be sadly disappointed.
After being kept waiting on a line that stretched out the door while the place was half empty, we were finally seated. The $9 specialty cocktail arrived in a small glass that was full of ice. My husband and I were concerned that ordering a mezza platter along with 2 entrees would leave us with far too much food, but we needn't have worried - the portion sizes are so small that we left the place not filled up. The $18 mezza platter consisted of 4 felafel balls, 3 cherries (for 2 people), 4 peach halves, about 6 green beans, a couple dollops, and 3 pitas. The $18 roulade dish consisted of 1 roulade with some sauce and sesame seeds and 2 small onions.
To add insult to injury, the next day both my husband and I had queasy stomachs and I had the runs.
While the food was good and well prepared, I don't like leaving an expensive restaurant half full. There are many other restaurants in Seattle where you can get much better value for your money.
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