700 4th Ave E, Olympia

Cicada Restaurant and Lounge is not for the timid palate. You won’t find anything ordinary on the menu—no meatloaf, chicken strips, lasagna or Reuben sandwiches. Instead, the dining establishment creates unconventional dishes by combining ingredients not typically commingled; the result is dishes with standout flavors and textures.

Oregon venison ribs are a full-flavored appetizer. Brushed with mild barbeque sauce, the savory lean meat is tender and subtly earthy. Served on a bed of spinach and topped with sweet, seared diced apple and assertive gorgonzola, the resulting hors d’oeuvre is a successful marriage of diverse flavors. An alternate starter, Thai spiced carrot soup is a velvety puree of roasted carrots fused with aromatic curry.

Mixed greens tossed with julienne apples, coarsely chopped pecans, and five-spice vinaigrette are topped with a sphere of fried chevre. A medley of creamy and crunchy, sweet and piquant, this salad is a must-try. Balsamic vinaigrette-dressed warm spinach salad is composed of bacon, mushrooms, Asiago—and a sunny-side-up duck egg. Both are accompanied by thin slices of rustic baguette, served with chive butter.

Generously sauced with smoked salmon Alfredo, tender potato gnocchi is made in-house. The comforting dumplings are finished with chopped fresh basil. Succulent pan-seared duck breast served atop roasted mashed yam is sauced with sweet-hot dried cherry-chipotle sauce. The rich dish is garnished with shredded asparagus.

The unexpected is what makes this eatery’s food stand out. As motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, said, “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” Don’t settle for the ordinary—give Cicada a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Mary Morgan