Maddox: An oasis of good eating on Highway 99

“Plain on the outside, but delicious on the inside.”

That was my husband’s verdict after we tried out Maddox Bar and Grill in Lynnwood, on the suggestion of a friend.

I laughed at his succinct description, because really, it’s quite apt. Maddox is on busy but uninspiring Highway 99. It seems, though, like a restaurant you’d find along a stunning waterfront or tucked into scenic valley somewhere.

Once you’re inside, you can forget about where you are and just enjoy yourself.

Anyway, enough talk about the location. Let’s talk about the food, which was all-around delicious.

We started out with the Mini-Mezza ($7.99), a dish that Maddox is so proud of that it’s on the menu twice — once as an appetizer, and once as a full-sized entree. The dish is pasta filled with smoked mozzarella tossed with sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, smoked chicken and onions in a peppery butter sauce.

The Mezza is the best appetizer I’ve had in ages. Its smoky flavor is fabulous and blends well with that delightful butter sauce. I would have never thought to put nuts in a dish like this, but they go great. As my husband declared, “If you don’t like this, you don’t like food.”

I ordered a pomegranate martini ($7.50) from their modest selection of specialty drinks. I was also tempted by the cranberry margarita ($7). The martini was a gorgeous deep pink color. It was almost too pretty to drink. It was nicely tart and drinkable.

My husband ordered a small pear and gorgonzola salad ($6.99/$10.99). The salad was lightly dressed with a tangy dressing that was perfect. The candied nuts were an especially nice touch. The pear was under ripe, but as pears are perfectly ripe for approximately 3 minutes, it was a minor thing. I would definitely order this salad again.

For my entree, I ordered the skirt steak salad ($12.99). It’s marinated skirt steak over greens with red onion, tomato, mushroom, blue cheese and a warm balsamic vinaigrette.

They don’t skimp on the steak: The salad came with a huge portion of steak across the greens and other veggies. The steak was good, cooked exactly to my medium-rare request and very tender. I only had to use my knife once or twice.

The greens were fresh and crisp and the salad had just the right amount of blue cheese. It’s easy to overwhelm a salad with blue cheese. This had the right balance. The size was generous enough that I was able to save some for lunch the next day, when the greens were remarkably still in decent shape.

My husband ordered the pork chop, which was served grilled with an apple demi-glaze, Yukon gold mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. The pork chop was tender, rich and delicious with the slightly sweet, tangy glaze. The mashed potatoes were good, but boring compared to the pork chop. The vegetables were also fine, but nothing special.

For dessert, we hoped to order their special, a chocolate espresso cheesecake. Sadly, they were out so we settled for a lemon tart. It was decadent and rich, with a smooth creamy lemon curd and great crust, with just the right mix of crumble and chewiness.

To top off the great meal, the service was attentive without being overwhelming. Everyone we had contact with was warm and efficient.

I’m glad I followed the advice to try Maddox. It would have been too easy to drive right by without ever noticing it. Don’t do that. It’s worth a visit.

Maddox Bar and Grill

18411 Highway 99, Lynnwood; 425-778-2223; maddoxgrill.com.

Specialty: Upscale bar and grill.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. 10 p.m. Sunday.

Alcohol: Full bar.

Vegetarian options: A few choices.

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