11:30 am-midnight Monday-Friday, 4 pm-midnight Saturday-Sunday. $$$ Expensive.
[FARM-DIRECT NORTHWEST] White tablecloths, waiters patient enough to explain the restaurant's signature Northwest cuisine and the delectably fresh food itself might make you think Higgins makes the perfect spot for an intimate date. Actually, no. There's a conversational dining-room din (two vuvuzelas, say, on a five-vuvuzela scale) that makes chef Greg Higgins' renowned restaurant a better place to go out with a bunch of friends than a special someone. On a recent busy Tuesday night (not a bad problem for any restaurant to have in this economy), the loud ambience was compounded by a long wait for the entrees. But an apologetic and efficient waiter kept us in the loop, and the wait was definitely worth it. The garlic- and lemon-crusted halibut melted in the mouth, and the seafood stew made for a filling and rich mélange of clams, halibut and calamari with spice. If you've still got room, do not leave without trying dessert—there is no going wrong with either a sinfully good peanut butter-filled chocolate mousse with Oregon berries or a moist pecan-and-cherry upside-down cake. HENRY STERN.
Ideal meal: Bruschetta and seafood stew.
Best deal: Head to the bar, which more affordable options in a setting that you at least expect to be loud.
Chef's choice: "Our charcuterie. I'm crazy for pig 'n' pickles." (Greg Higgins)