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Here's a heavenly hideaway

Paradise is usually, after all, a faraway place.

Bear with me here while I delve into the literary world, but in Sequim, Paradise is "Far from the Madding Crowd" (novel by Thomas Hardy, 1874). In this instance, "madding" means "frenzied."

And this Paradise is a calm oasis.

And because Paradise is located on the residential end of Sequim Avenue, I'm willing to bet you have passed it by many times - as did I, and never ventured in. But this restaurant has been a Sequim staple for 20 years!

For groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Knights of Columbus, Kiwanis, bowlers, golfers, and the fire and police departments, it's been a home away from home for a long time.

Right away I knew I'd enjoy eating here because there are plenty of big roomy booths. The decor is restful and tasteful. And the place is spic n' span.

Greg and I went for dinner and we laughed (through our tears) that the music system gently played some of our youthful favorites, The Beatles' "Something in the Way She Moves" and Don McLean's "Starry Starry Night" - now fodder for elevator music! But that's a subject for another day.

First off, I was surprised at the reasonable prices, although you can splurge with fresh lobster and a big prime rib. And once we were served, I was doubly surprised at the very generous portions.

It's been a long, long time since I've seen calf's liver on a menu, so I had to go with that. Greg ordered fettuccini frutta de mare.

Our order was served hot. I love hot. Maybe you think something can be too hot, but look at it this way - it'll have plenty of time to cool down once it's on your table. Usually food is served just-this-side of warm and ends up basically room temp. Greg's pasta was so hot, he had to give it a few minutes. To me, this is nothing to complain about.

Their calf's liver is grilled with bacon and onions. Since liver is a cholesterol extravaganza, I passed on the bacon. Not overcooked, which is easy to do, the portion size of the liver was huge and smothered in onions.

All entrees come with choice of soup or salad, steamed vegetables, choice of rice or baked potato and a nice hot French roll.

My steamed carrots, broccoli and cauliflower were fresh and steamed just right. I substituted the potato for French fries.

Greg's fettuccini came with lots of crab, shrimp, cod, salmon and scallops smothered in velvety cream sauce.

Salad greens were fresh. Greg ordered his with bleu cheese and reported it was filled with nice big chunks. I ordered the homemade Thousand Island. The fried wonton salad croutons were an appetizing novelty.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. We started off with black tiger prawns, which were plump and very fresh and nicely presented. The cocktail sauce had a nice kick to it.

Also on the large and varied menu: veal scallopini, veal Oscar, pork and lamb chops, and chicken in Dijon sauce with mushrooms, green onions, capers and honey Dijon.

Their prime rib, only available on Fridays and Saturdays, is Midwest corn-fed beef. Seafood entrees include pan-fried oysters, prawns, scallops, sole, a 10-ounce rock lobster (a good choice if your wallet is feeling flush), and a captain's plate with deep-fried prawns, cod, calamari and scallops wrapped with bacon and crab meat.

Broiler items include New York and a 16-ounce choice T-bone steak, a petite filet wrapped in bacon, and New York pepper steak with cracked pepper and pepper sauce.

Also on the menu is peasant-style French onion soup and oyster and cioppino stews.

Side orders include vegetables, fries and garlic bread, small portions of their steak entrees, oysters on the half shell and Tahitian prawns that our host James brought to our table to sample. Heaven. Like mini-lobsters with a budget price.

And speaking of our host, considering the menu, you might be surprised to learn that Paradise is a family-run business whose members came from mainland China in 1979.

The original restaurant, Pelegrino, had been closed for a year. In 1989, the restaurant was bought by the Lam family and opened its doors as Paradise on Oct. 2, 1989. Although the entire family works at the restaurant, it is the son James who worked in the restaurant business before and who influenced the continental menu.

I enjoyed the dinner experience so much, I was eager to spread the word and arranged to meet a friend there for lunch. My friend had been hesitant to try it before because apparently word of mouth was that the food wasn't that great. Well, fine, keep a secret! The parking lot was packed.

Lunch was great. I had a wonderful Caesar salad; beautifully presented and everything was fresh, fresh, fresh. My friend ordered their vegetarian delight sandwich with such generous portions of avocado, cream cheese, mushrooms, cucumbers, sprouts and tomatoes that she worried that it was almost impossible to bite into.

Other lunch offerings include a variety of sandwiches: chicken and tuna salad, grilled ham and cheese, corned beef and Swiss cheese, roast beef and Cheddar cheese, a fishwich, Reuben, crab and cheese, clubhouse, French dip and Paradise croissant piled high with bay shrimp salad and a touch of dill. And, of course, hamburgers with all the trimmings.

"Lunch in Paradise" serves up a daily sandwich special for $6.95, a sandwich of the day that includes soup and a beverage for $7.95, and a soup and salad special with roll for $5.95. You can hardly beat that.

Early-bird dinners are served from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and offer many of the regular entree choices as well as chicken a la Kiev with mornay sauce, country chicken, chicken or fish and chips, and meatloaf.

For dessert, there are apple and pecan pies, chocolate mousse cake and Paradise ice cream pie with vanilla ice cream, macadamia nuts and caramel.

Paradise's reasonably priced wine list includes vintages representing Washington, California, Australia and New Zealand.

The waitstaff is pleasant and attentive.

As an added bonus, spend some time in their relaxed and inviting bar.

If you're looking for a comfortable place to bring in the new year, think about spending it in Paradise.



Paradise

703 N. Sequim Ave.

683-1977

Tuesday-Sunday

11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Saturday 4 p.m.-9 p.m.

Closed Monday

$$



Shelley Taylor and her husband relocated to the peninsula from California and are active in property tax reform issues. By her own admission, Taylor likes to eat.







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