WHERE TO EAT ON NEW YEAR'S EVE: Several restaurants—some reasonably priced, others requiring you to drop serious cash—are offering special prix-fixe menus. Seating is often limited, so make your reservation sooner rather than later:
• Capitol Hill's Altura (617 Broadway E, 402-6749, alturarestaurant.com) is offering two menus of its seasonal Italian food: a six-course tasting menu for reservations between 5:30 and 6 p.m. ($155 per person, $87 for wine pairings with each course) and an eight-course menu for reservations at 8 p.m. or later ($195 per person, $115 for wine pairings).
• Eastlake's Blind Pig Bistro (2238 Eastlake Ave E, 329-2744, blindpigbistro.com) will host an eight-course tasting menu of its inventive, locally driven dishes for $75 per person (plus $35 for a wine pairing).
• Cafe Lago in Montlake (2305 24th Ave E, 329-8005, cafelago.com), which has been cooking in a wood-fired oven before wood-fired ovens were everywhere in Seattle, is offering a prix-fixe menu for $35 a person. To celebrate the restaurant's 25th anniversary, all adult diners will get a free glass of prosecco.
• Sodo's Gastropod (3201 First Ave S, Suite 104, 403-1228, gastropodsodo.com) is where I had my favorite dish of 2014: a "tuna melt" made of broiled hamachi collars with black garlic Comte cheese sauce, brioche bread crumbs, and pickled peppers. They'll be offering four courses of some of the city's most creative food ($65, each course paired with an Epic Ales beer) at two seatings (5:30 and 8 p.m.).
• Three of chef Matt Dillon's restaurants are offering special prix-fixe menus of their flawless, utterly Northwest food (e.g., smoked oysters on toast with shaved matsutake mushrooms, lamb saddle with soured huckleberry and parsnip sauce). Prices range from spendy to all-out blowout, and all include free entry to Bar Ferd'nand's New Year's Eve party in Melrose Market: $100 at Pioneer Square's Bar Sajor (323 Occidental Ave S, 682-1117, barsajor.com), $140 at Sitka & Spruce (1531 Melrose Ave, 324-0662, sitkaandspruce.com) on Capitol Hill, and $250 at the Corson Building (5609 Corson Ave S, 762-3330, thecorsonbuilding.com) in Georgetown.
NEW HAPPY HOUR: Downtown's Vespolina (96 Union St, 682-3590, vespolinaseattle.com) recently announced a new happy hour, which provides a great way to sample some of the restaurant's pricier dishes. From 3 to 7 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m., the entire bar menu is 50 percent off. (Rabbit liver mousse for $3! Seared scallops with Umbrian lentils for $9! Tagliatelle with game ragu for $11.50!) Cocktails and wine are $6, draft beer is $4.
HEALTH NEWS: King County Public Health officials plan to launch a new grading system to make it easier for people to know the health inspection status of restaurants. Currently, the only way to find out this information is by sifting through a confusing and fear-inducing list of inspection reports. According to the Seattle Times, the new system won't be implemented until 2016, and there's no word yet on what form it will take (perhaps letter grades like those implemented in Los Angeles back in 1997?).