Ideas for Date Night #2: Richly Deserved Rewards

Tonight’s activities were rewarding on so many levels. The cool, clear evening was the perfect backdrop for a little exercise. A little exercise justified a hearty, flavorful dinner out. At least in our minds it did.

It’s just half a mile from 9 Cranes Inn to Seattle’s Green Lake – walk east down the hill from Phinney Avenue North and you’re all warmed up for a run by the time you reach the water. The inner loop – frequented by dog walkers, stroller pushers (watch out for those double-wides), and seemingly everyone in Seattle on sunny days – is 2.8 miles (4.5 km) around the lake. For a lot more elbow room and a softer surface, the outer loop is 3.2 miles (about 5 km). Actually, by going later in the day, both paths are pretty clear, although you do miss the charming rows of turtles sunning themselves on fallen logs in the lake.

Cooling down from the run is somewhat more strenuous than the warm up, seeing as the way back to the inn is uphill. No matter, more calories burned means more calories earned. After a quick shower and pat on the heads for the pooches, we set out to try an Ethiopian restaurant we had recently spotted on Aurora Avenue, incongruously sandwiched between an IHOP and a Starbucks. Normally we tend to avoid strip-mall dining, instead favoring neighborhood places with a bit more, uh, character. But we love Ethiopian food and were eager to see if one so close to our place (okay, about 45 blocks, and yes, we drove) was any good.

It was. Its name, by the way, is Lucy.

But first, the atmosphere – really different than any other Ethiopian restaurant we’ve visited. Not better or worse – just different. Most of the tables were comfortable booths; the lighting was modern and moody in a good way; the full bar sleek and stylish. The servers were friendly and helpful. In fact, we should’ve listened to ours who told us we were ordering too much food. But we insisted that we wanted all of those different flavors, so she smiled, shrugged, and overfed us.

If you haven’t had Ethiopian cuisine before, here’s the scoop: you scoop your food. Injera, the slightly tangy and spongy bread they serve in abundance, is your utensil. What you’re picking up is usually wet and saucy, be it veggies, lamb, beef, chicken, or fish, the latter which we hadn’t encountered in all of our other Ethiopian dining across the U.S. Yeah, it can get a little messy, and it’s a communal kind of experience, but tasty as all get-out. We like the veggie combo – various lentil concoctions, cabbage, split peas, chickpeas, tomatoes, and spices. So we gorged, noting that each item – though some contained the same base veggie and others looked very similar – had a unique and delicious flavor that we couldn’t stop sampling.

We were too full and not focused on partying to stay at what was turning into a dance club, so we waddled out to the car. Dessert anyone? Simple. We stopped at Safeway and picked up a bag of sweet Washington cherries, which I’m eating as I type. Somehow there’s still room.

Update 04/20/2016: Lucy is now closed.

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