ON THE PLATE TOI Max Borthwick built the menu of his downtown Thai-fusion restaurant round recipes his mother used to make: Now he's got Mom herself in the kitchen, supervising preparation of the innovative mix-and-match tapas-style menu. Among the standouts: crisp, crackling white-prawn rolls in plum-garlic-chili sauce ($9); Mama's heavenly salad of veggies, herbs, and charbroiled beef ($9); and wok-fried shellfish in hot red-curry sauce ($9). 1904 Fourth, 267-1017. Dragonfish Asian Caf鼯B> New items on the luncheon bill of fare include grilled bulgogi-style steak strips in a lemon grass pancake wrap ($7.80); a peanut-and-coconut-topped chicken breast-cucumber salad in a ginger dressing ($7.75); and a sushi roll special: three pieces plus soup, salad, and beverage for $7.45. 722 Pine, 467-7777. Metropolitan Grill Just rated by Forbes as one of the top spots in town for doing business, but that's no reason you can't take advantage of chef John Broulette's classic steak-house menu, featuring items like the giant fresh-seafood cocktail (shrimp $12.95, crab $14.50) and the rock salt-roasted prime-rib dinner ($28.95 to $34.95, depending on cut). Even vegetarians can get into the spirit of things with the grilled portobello mignon ($17.95), with the house mashed potatoes and creamed spinach on the side. 820 Second, 624-3287. IN THE GLASS '99 Sagelands cabernet A fruity, chipper Columbia Valley red with no pretensions and lots of charm. Regularly around $18, it's priced at under $9 a bottle through September, making it a major bargain. '00 Waterbrook chardonnay A blend of grapes from six Columbia Valley vineyards, this release has won high praise, both for its deft handling of a tricky grape variety for Washington winemakers and for its remarkably low price: under $11. AT THE MARKET Cauliflower and broccoli kick off the crucifer season, but there are still plenty of soft fruits to be had: plums, peaches, nectarines, pears—even local strawberries! It's high season for tomato lovers, too, with prices coming down even on heirloom varieties. Corn is still coming on strong, and, if you hurry, you can still score lots of basil to turn into pesto to get you through the dark days ahead. THIS WEEK Sept. 29-Sept. 30 Cooking demos by 10 top Seattle chefs and TV kitchen hunk Michael Chiarello of Napa's Tra Vigne restaurant highlight the Seattle Center's Festa Italiana. Noon to 6 p.m. daily, Flag Terrace, Seattle Center. Admission free. For a full schedule, see www.FestaSeattle.com. COMING UP Oct. 16 Sip samples from every wine-growing region of America—Missouri! South Carolina! Massachusetts! South Dakota!-- at a benefit tasting for the Northwest chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food. Chef Janet Hedstrom will devise hors d'oeuvres to munch as you rub shoulders with members of the American Vintners Association, in town for their fall meeting. 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Chateau Ste. Michelle, Woodinville, $45. Information 243-1528. Hey, hotshot. Send updates to the Hot Sheet, email@example.com.