Savor Pure Flavor at Bennett's

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© Siiri Sampson 2011.
If you're using a burger with bacon as a booby trap, we're totally falling for it. Burger? Good. Bacon? Good!
Imagine there were a shot glass full of a mystery liquid sitting in front of you. Drinking this mystery shot will transport you to a land of perfection, where every step you take leaves clover and daisies in your footprints, and all the food is organic and unadulterated, begging to jump on your plate. The kind of place where everyone has a pet unicorn, lives in McMansions with their 2.4 kids, and it never rains. So basically just like Seattle, except the exact opposite--let's call it Utopia, shall we? Before you can even think to ask what the drawbacks might be, you down the shot like a college freshman during pledge week. Big surprise.

The restaurant in the middle of Utopia-town would be kinda like Bennett's on Mercer Island (7650 S.E. 27th St.), except the servers would be life-sized Gummi Bears that would serve themselves as desserts, and the plates would be edible buttercups, like the ones in that garden in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The menu at Bennett's (the real-life one, not the Utopia branch) is filled with wholesome ingredients your mom would approve of. Although you might not know it from just reading the menu, as there is no pretentious verbiage touting "antibiotic free, hypoallergenic, cage-free, grass-fed, organic, miracle-ointment chicken." They simply have a single statement on their website (and we don't even remember seeing one on their menu, though there probably was) letting you know there's nothing artificial or hydrogenated. Just. Pure. Food.

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© Siiri Sampson 2011.
Finding a little piece of soup perfection is as close as we're getting to that fairytale land without sucking down your mystery liquor . . .
Even though Seattle and this mysterious dreamland are light-years apart, you can still get the vivacious flavors created by Bennett's owner, Kurt Dammeier, like the tomato flagship soup ($5/$8) with roasted garlic and chunks of Beecher's Flagship Cheese, and the turkey burger ($12), a staff favorite. Adding a few slices of Zoe's applewood-smoked bacon ($3) to the latter complements the spices found in the mix of ground turkey and Italian chicken sausage. A creamy kick from fresh cheese curds and chutney is refreshing, but doesn't make up for the lack of burger basics: lettuce (OK, there was one measly piece) and tomato. A couple of slaws as sides, rather than the expected fries, sound great, but the sweet slaw dressing becomes overwhelming halfway through, crying out for something crunchy to rescue it (a chopped nut or dried fruit would do fine) from the thick dressing.

Having daydreamed about walking our pet unicorns down the diamond-crusted streets of make-believe may have jaded us just slightly about all things food in the regular world, but we're keeping Bennett's on the go-to list. Knowing you're eating nothing but the best ingredients may actually take us one step closer to reaching food Utopia on a more regular basis, but we'll have to submit to a lot more empirical research before a decision is made.

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