Park Lane Public House opened in January 2018 by Chad and Jessi Waldher, the owners of nearby Bottle & Bull. With two prime downtown Kirkland locations, the Waldhers’ vision for Park Lane was to do nationally influenced fare with Northwest ingredients, using locally sourced seafood and meats when possible. Located on a busy street near the waterfront, the pub is family-friendly and appears to have something for everyone. With outdoor seating available during the warm summer months, Park Lane has a good chance at capturing the attention of tourists and families alike as they stroll down Lake Street.
The kitchen is helmed by chef John Ulakko, formerly of Pearl Restaurant in downtown Bellevue, who strives for freshness. All pastas and doughs are made in-house, along with a variety of aioli and dressings. The menu definitely matches the casual atmosphere, with an approachable menu consisting of traditional favorites like fish & chips, tacos and a burger, along with Northwest focused items such as ahi poke and a seafood salad.
Photos by: foodolish.com
The exterior signage was easy to miss, but once we found the door, we were warmly greeted and seated in a large booth. The space is quite large, with a bar on one side, restaurant on the other and an open kitchen along the back wall. It had the feel of an upscale pub, with a mix of families and couples.
Like always, we started with a round of cocktails, because let’s get real, cocktails are important, especially in a pub/bar. Park Lane’s variation of a classic Old Fashioned was the Urban Bourbon (bourbon, townshend amaro, spice tea liqueur, smoked bitters). The spice tea liqueur and the smoked bitters really shined through in this cocktail, but it was a tad too sweet for our liking. The Basic Becky (vodka, elderflower, aperol, grapefruit, bubbles) was their version of a lemon drop, and we felt this was a miss. The grapefruit flavor was the only thing that stood out and it lacked the stated bubbles. Perhaps the bubbles used had gone flat?
After perusing the menu and getting a few recommendations from the GM, we decided to start with a few appetizers before moving on to more substantial entrees. We love all things seafood, so the clams and poke were no brainers to start. The sauteed clams (shallots, garlic, tomato, basil, focaccia) were so fresh, some of them were still sandy! They had an unexpected hit of heat due to chili flakes, but we weren’t mad about it. The broth was hearty and delicious and the focaccia sopped it up perfectly. The ahi poke (avocado, radish, cucumber ginger, shallots, sesame seeds, taro chips) was beautifully presented, with layers of ahi, avocado, and radish with a side of fresh taro chips. The poke itself was delicious, but the accompanying taro chips were over-salted, which threw off the balance of the dish. The poke lacked depth of flavor and likely needed to be marinated longer, but overall, it was a serviceable starter.
When Dungeness crab is on the menu, how can we resist? The Northwest seafood salad (bibb lettuce, fresh Dungeness crab, prawns, hardboiled egg, radish, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese, green goddess dressing) was an entrée sized salad meant to satiate and was filled with a generous portion of fresh Dungeness crab and four large prawns. This was a knife and fork kind of salad, with whole leaves of bibb lettuce supporting the cast of characters. While it looked nice, it made for a bit of a mess when trying to cut everything into bite-sized pieces. The green goddess dressing was great and brought the salad together once everything was mixed in. DIY salad just isn’t for us!
Three large pieces of beer battered Alaskan cod (frites, remoulade) arrived on a bed of frites. The batter was nice and light, but the fish was completely under-seasoned. The addition of some salt and a squeeze of lemon elevated the nom factor. The fish was nice and flaky and we thought this was their best dish. It was a huge portion, but the plating needed some help. By resting the fish on top of the fries, the bottom started getting soggy due to the steam/heat. There’s nothing worse than soggy fried fish!
Help! The carnitas tacos (cotija cheese, pickled onions, crema, cabbage, cilantro, corn tortilla) were piled high with carnitas, cotija, and all the fixin’s, making them incredibly hard to eat. Like the cod, the carnitas suffered from the same lack of seasoning. We had to squeeze some fresh lime and add salt before we could really get down to business. The carnitas were dry, and while the pickled onions added a nice fresh crunch, we felt the carnitas needed more acid to really bring out the flavor.
An under-seasoned wild boar bolognese (house-made rigatoni, cream, parmesan) followed, which desperately needed salt. Aside from that, the house-made rigatoni was quite thick, and really held up nicely to the rich Bolognese. A lot of people are turned off by game meat, but here at Foodolish, we love it. Overall, this was a solid dish. The flavor was spot on, it just lacked seasoning!
Mmm…There’s nothing better than a fresh, warm cookie with vanilla ice cream like the loaded skillet cookie (coconut, chocolate chip, blueberries, pear, and apple, vanilla ice cream) we devoured for dessert. It was similar to a crumble in texture and the fruit mixed with chocolate was a winning combination.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, season, season, season!!! It’s probably one of the single most important things to remember when cooking. Almost everything at Park Lane suffered from under-seasoning, with the exception of the taro chips, which were over-seasoned. Maybe the kitchen was having an off night, but the lack of seasoning kind of killed some otherwise well-executed dishes.
Offering a family-friendly solution to its sibling, Park Lane Public House is focused on approachable Northwest fare, but fell short for us overall. If you’re expecting bar food with Northwest sensibilities, you likely won’t be disappointed here. Just be sure to bring your appetite.Provided the seasoning issue gets addressed, you would be hard pressed to find such large portions without breaking the bank elsewhere.
Park Lane Public House | 115 Park Lane, Kirkland, WA 98033 | Open 7 days a week