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May 13, 2008 at 4:39 PM

Prom-a-rama: black tie, top hat and a table for — how many?

Must be that time of year. The where-to-go-for-prom questions are rolling in. Let’s see if I can’t answer a few. And feel free to chime in with ideas of your own, folks!

Juliet Brewster asks: “I have a fairly large (20+) group going out on prom night. We are price-conscious with picky eaters and huge dresses, so we are looking for somewhere to go where we won’t be completely disturbing the peace. Do you have any ideas? Maybe somewhere they can hide us away in a back room.”

I’ve got just the back-room to hide you in Juliet: Call Brad Inserra at the Swingside Cafe in Fremont and ask to book his Fish Room in the way-back. You won’t be disturbing the peace at all there, and the long, skinny quarters, painted to resemble an aquarium, is as funky as it is fun. Tell your picky eaters to live a little and try his aglio olio — pasta with lots of garlic, chilies, herbs, spices and ground hazelnuts — among other texturally interesting ingredients. It’s “the dish that made the Swingside famous,” though I’m nuts about his seafood gumbo and his wild boar and venison Bolognese. You might consider the Steelhead Diner in Pike Place Market (another place with killer gumbo and a back room to accommodate your group). Even your picky friends will like the sandwiches, plus upscale versions of meat, fish and poultry dishes. Want to put on the dog? Have a slice of caviar pie. And if it’s nice out, they’ve got outdoor seating to accommodate your group.

Lucy Wolf asks: “I am a high school senior getting ready for prom night and I’m looking for advice on where to have dinner before the big dance. We’re looking for some place relatively inexpensive but still hip and with interesting food. We also have a big group — about 16 of us — so we would need a restaurant that could accommodate that. We all live in Seattle and are hiring a limo that could drive us anywhere in the city. If you could give me a few suggestions that would be greatly appreciated!!”

Relatively inexpensive, hip, with interesting food, huh? Try these: The private room just off the dining room at Palace Kitchen in downtown Seattle will fit your bill perfectly (make sure you share a bunch of appetizers first). Flying Fish in Belltown also has a private room that can accommodate you (are you listening Juliet?), though it might be more fun to take over the mezzanine level and look down on the action — if they’ve got room for you up there. The Fish’s menu offers a long list of intriguing seafood (you can share some large plates including menu mainstays like whole deep-fried Vietnamese-style fish, or Sister-in-Law mussels). Crow, on Lower Queen Anne, has a brief, seasonally oriented menu (don’t miss their proscuitto-cloaked chicken, or the hanger steak with blue cheese). Cremant in Madrona has terrific French food, with interesting housecured meats and pates (and do save room for creme brulee): they, too, have a very private room in back for large parties.

James Collins, from Puyallup, asks: “My daughter is going to the Museum of Flight for her prom and is looking for something nice for her date and friends < $25 each. Any ideas?"

Well, that depends on what you considered “nice.” For under $25, here’s my suggestion: On their way to the museum (which is a very cool place to hold prom), your gal and her pals should head into downtown Renton. At Armondo’s Cafe Italiano, the price-point will work well for them, the menu’s a good mix of classics like chicken and veal piccata, plus smoked salmon fettuccine and other pasta specialties (soup or salad is included). And if anyone’s really on a budget (or not very adventurous) there’s always pizza or a calzone. There’s a nice private room that seats 20 if your daughter’s traveling with a crowd. Conversely, they can go the steakhouse route at Armondo’s sibling-restaurant, the Melrose Grill, located across the street. If they stay away from the steaks (or babysit an extra night that week so they can afford them), they can keep to their budget with dishes like stuffed pork chops or chicken breast, salmon or grilled jumbo prawns ($18-$22) each served with a salad plus rice or potatoes and fresh vegetables.

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