I will always remember my first kiss. And I will always remember my first night at Ricardo's Restaurant.
It was love at first sight. Because my first sight upon entering Ricardo's Restaurant in Lacey was a display case featuring the thick cut Mishima Ranch aged steaks from which my lovely wife, Jane, and I would be selecting our dinner. After being seated, we would find ourselves nearly seduced into straying from that first love, thanks to the temptress that is Ricardo's menu (visit at www.chefricardo.com), which includes organic chicken, pork and veal dishes, as well as seafood pastas.
We decided to remain faithful to our betrothed steak entree and opted to start with a calamari appetizer ($11), which we were warned would not be breaded like everyone else's calamari appetizers, but rather prepared in a spicy white wine and tomato based broth. We spent some time trying to reverse engineer the recipe just so we could talk about it later but settled for just calling it "very delicious." Meanwhile, I enjoyed a single malt scotch (because it was the right thing to do). Jane selected "Kim's Naughty Girl" ($8) from the clever and creative cocktail menu, while we awaited the arrival of our 30-ounce Porterhouse Steak dinner for two ($64), which Chef Ricardo himself helped us select (although at the time we thought he was part of the wait staff). Each forkful of the steak, served with potato and vegetable sides, was every bit of sensational, prepared precisely medium rare.
The wait staff checked on us frequently to ensure that our cocktails were freshened and to make sure our moans of pleasure were not disturbing neighboring diners.
We finished with deliciously decadent cheese cake and chocolate desserts, leaving one small morsel of cheese cake on the plate so as not to appear too gluttonous, and I ordered a coffee drink in the hopes that the caffeine jolt would make it more likely I could leave the restaurant on my own power.
By the end of the night, we had spent about $160, but if not for my affection for an 18 year-old Scotsman named Macallan, we could have left the building for less than $100 for our steak dinner with shared appetizer and dessert for two.
On our way out, we were introduced to Chef Ricardo. I have to admit I was kind of expecting a chef named Ricardo to be an olive-skinned, curly haired guy with a slim mustache on his lip, speaking in a thick Italian accent, telling my wife how beautiful she is while kissing her hand and inviting her to ride in his gondola. It turns out he's the young local guy with strawberry blonde hair who we had earlier mistaken for a bus boy and who spoke with only a very slight Lacey drawl.
Steak lovers will find Ricardo's to be at least on par with Seattle's best steak houses. We think it surpasses them. It is the kind of meal about which you will reminisce until you come back for more.
[Ricardo's Restaurant, dinner daily 5-9 p.m., lunch Fridays 11:30-2:30 p.m., 5211 Lacey Blvd., Lacey, reservations recommended 360.413.9995]