The Greening of Georgetown Center

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Georgetown might be Seattle's latest hot neighborhood, but the cultural revolution hasn't quite penetrated Georgetown Center, a business park where the gray stucco storefronts have all the charm of industrial smog. Evergreens, the salad bar nestled among the licensing offices and copy shops, bridges the gap between its workaday surroundings and the hip vibe of the greater Georgetown area.

"Unassuming" is the key word in summing up Evergreens' ambiance. It feels like a college cafeteria, only without the kids in grungy sweatpants nursing hangovers at 2 p.m. You walk in, pick up your tray, and pile it high with at the hot and cold bars. Everything is priced by weight, and it's $6.99 a pound, a sum affordable even with a tuition-ravaged wallet.

But in most college cafeterias, that tray wouldn't be made from compostable materials. Neither would the silverware. The food selection wouldn't be as diverse--imitation crab never crossed the threshold of my college cafeteria, nor did Mexi-Coke--and the lettuce would lack the satisfying, just-picked crunch it has here.

Everything in my salad, from the edamame to the hard-boiled eggs, tasted fresh and flavorful. The Italian wedding soup brimmed with vegetable chunks, and the salty broth was practically thick enough to hold a spoon up on its own. A crusty Macrina roll mopped it up effectively.

A couple of Evergreens' items seemed a little worse for the wear. The mac and cheese at the hot bar could have used some candles--it looked like it was about to celebrate its first birthday. The ribs also appeared to have seen better days. But because everything is laid out in plain view, the questionable foods are easily avoided.

In order to run a restaurant as progressive-minded as Evergreens in a location as humdrum as Georgetown Center, you need a certain level of earnestness. Evergreens' staff has it in spades. They kept popping out from behind the register to greet customers and make sure they knew how the ordering system worked. When the woman who rang up my meal asked how I was doing, she sounded genuinely interested.

If the lunchtime crowd on a recent Thursday was anything to judge by, the quality of Evergreens' food and service is slowly winning over the business park workers. Though the place was empty when we walked in, by the time we left, about half the tables were occupied.

Every revolution has to start somewhere. Perhaps Evergreens makes an improbable warrior; organic spinach isn't exactly a lethal weapon. But the restaurant's leafy greens put it on the front line of the battle for Georgetown Center's aesthetic. Sure, you might be eating them while gazing at an SUV-clogged, fast food wrapper-filled parking lot, but Evergreens augurs trendier, tastier things to come.

 
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