A BRIEF DISCUSSION of neighborhood identification must precede an examination of the lovely food at Bick's Broadview Grill. By attaching the words "Broadview Grill" to its name, Bick's has committed the all-too-common act of fraudulent up- neighboring. It actually fits squarely into Greenwood, at least according to my understanding of Seattle neighborhood boundaries. It's most definitely not in the tonier Broadview area, located some 25 to 30 blocks to the north. One need walk only a block from Bick's to encounter the absolute heart of Greenwood, this of course being the Rickshaw, renowned for their "parade of omelets." Bick's denial is commonly used by Greenwoodians, insisting that they actually live in Broadview, Fremont, Ballard, or Phinney Ridge, while Lake City dwellers often sneakily claim residence in Wedgwood, or even Sand Point. Such disingenuousness hints at low self-esteem, which in Bick's case is altogether needless.

Bick's has created an eclectic setting, with touches of ski lodge, roadhouse, and sports bar. While the occasional power-smoking barfly sidles up to the bar to catch part of a televised game, most of the customers come for the food, which arrives hot at your table within minutes of ordering. A smiling and attentive waitstaff pampers diners; customers caught looking around the room are inevitably met with a courteous inquiry by a food server. The abundance of light wood, cathedral ceilings, and multi-leveled seating areas make sitting at the bar feel almost like coming in from a long day of tough competitive skiing, the kind of skiing that makes you really hungry for big portions. Nasty winter evenings provide the ideal backdrop for a Bick's trek; in the chill of an inclement evening, the cozy and warm cuddliness has a natural appeal.

The Smoked Duck and Roasted Vegetable Quesadilla ($7.95) packs a voluminous wallop, with a bronzed and crusty tortilla sheltering tender little chunks of dark duck meat, squash, mushrooms, and onions. A stripe of velvety crème fraîche provides an unusual contrast to sizzling tomato-habanero Salsa Fresca. Quiet and polite jack cheese herds the whole thing along, and the sizing is genuinely gigantic. Another bargain starter is the Garden Green Side Salad ($3.95), which comes on like a ton of bricks with its zesty balsamic and gorgonzola treatment. Glazed nuts and mixed new-wave greens generously pack a smallish plate, providing much more fresh action than originally apparent. The novel topping of French-fried shallots teams with the walnuts to create a crunchified counterpoint to the salad's pungent and moist dressing.

Bick's is not afraid to let it rip in the portion department, and the Seashell Pasta ($10.95) makes the point. Unabashedly tossed with an olive oil-based medley of orange-yellow mussels, nugget-sized chunks of fresh rock shrimp, and small slices of kalamata olives, this football-sized serving beckons undeniably with its rich and nubile profile.

Bick's makes its love of spicy food obvious, with a massive display of thousands of hot sauces strewn throughout the entire establishment. While the menu leans toward the heat, Bick's achieves the balance between heat and cool so often missing in Seattle kitchens. Items billed as hot deliver the goods as promised, while traditionally non-spicy dishes stay that way.

Grilled Boneless Rib-Eye Steak ($16.50) satisfies the uniquely and disturbingly human desire to devour various mammalian sub-species; this one is worthy of the destruction. Large and thin, the rib eye's pink viscera has the texture and primitive sweetness of a Nanaimo bar. Topped with a thin jacketing of gorgonzola, then completely smothered in fresh and thinly sliced sautéed mushrooms, the rib eye proudly upholds all that is good and all that is just about meat-eating. If meat must be eaten, then let it always be as satisfying and moving as this. Stately horseradish mashed potatoes proudly accompany the grand slab of beef, and dutifully fulfill their role as flavor servant.

Multiple ceiling fans and an apparently top-notch ventilation system make for a relatively fresh and smoke-free environment, furthering the après-ski feel of the room. Bick's succeeds in creating a pleasant and inviting retreat from its dreary Greenwood surroundings, and provides a needed contrast to the numerous neighboring check-cashing outlets.

Bick's Broadview Grill

10555 Greenwood Ave N, 367-8481. Daily 4-10 pm. Full bar. $$

Price Scale (per entrée)

$ = $10 and under; $$ = $10-20; $$$ = $20 and up