Food News: Mistral Kitchen to open this fall

William Belickis, former chef/owner of the late Mistral in Belltown, disappointed many when he closed Mistral in 2008. But now he's back: He signed a lease yesterday for a location in the West 8th building situated between the retail core of downtown and South Lake Union. The 100+ seat restaurant he's planning to open, to be called Mistral Kitchen, will be located in the triangular space in the 26-story building enclosed by 80 feet of glass on two sides.

Belickis describes the layout of Mistral Kitchen as something unique to the Seattle restaurant scene. Outside of the 45-seat main dining room, there will be a sprawling bar where diners will get a front-row view of the pastry station, the artisan cocktail bar, and a wood-fire oven.

The main dining room will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, with an accessible menu of shellfish, pastas, and pizzas in the $8-$20 range. A 24-seat jewel box--a secluded, sound-proofed fine dining room--will offer tasting menus ($80+) and four-course prix fixe options ($60). The sky’s the limit for the eight-seat chef’s table, located directly in the main kitchen, and the private six-seat lounge upstairs.

Is this vision too lofty, given the economic downturn? Belickis doesn’t seem fazed by this question. “I’m giving consumers a choice as to where they want to be in this restaurant. I’m not requiring anyone to stay and eat for three hours (like I did at Mistral). Come for happy hour at the bar, come for 10 minutes. Have a seat, or don’t even sit down, if you don’t want to.”

Though Belickis is mum about the amount of money invested in this project, one gets the sense that Mistral Kitchen is poised to make a big splash in the Seattle dining scene.

That wood-fire oven? It’s being imported from Naples. (“That oven’s being made in the same area where my family’s from,” says Belickis. “I’m not putting anything in that oven that’s not supposed to be there, like a Thai chicken pizza.”)

There will also be a tandoori oven for bone-in ribeyes, and Happy Hour naan bread, topped with truffle oil and Parmesan. Belickis plans to bring in whole pigs and lambs to butcher every week or two, and whole sides of Vashon grass-fed beef. (Yes, there will be a bandsaw in the kitchen.) Belickis’s film editor wife, Meagan, will be compiling footage from two web cams in the restaurant (one installed above William’s personal prep area, and the other over the main pass) so foodie-voyeurs can get a behind-the-scenes glimpse via the restaurant’s website.

Chef Belickis is currently putting together his all-star team, four of whom have worked under him at Mistral. Patrick Hymer will be joining the new project as chief of staff, Amber Johannson as head of hosting/reservations, and Juan Lizarraras as Belickis’s right-hand man in the kitchen. Skye Swett, who cooked under Belickis at Mistral in years past, is returning to Seattle as production chef. (Swett’s impressive resumé includes two years as private chef to Jack and Suzie Welch (CEO of GE) and a year at Per Se in New York.) Ben and Casey of Zig Zag will be consulting on the bar set-up (and the hunt is on in major US cities for a bartender worth his or her salt.)

Belickis hopes to open Mistral Kitchen by fall 2009.

My husband and I have been loyal Mistral diners for years, and we know Mistral Kitchen has been a dream of William's for years.  A lease signed just days before his 40th birthday? Well, that’s just the icing on the proverbial cake.

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101 1241193240 Pop into Poppy for Thrilling Desserts There's just no better place to taste offbeat sweets in this town. Allison Austin Scheff Dana Cree, the pastry chef at Poppy (and one of the Rebel Chefs from April's Best Restaurants issue) is the thinking-diner's pastry chef. She analyzes, tweeks, re-works (and Twitters about all of it @deensie) and all of her smarty-chef work really pays off. Last night I popped into Poppy on a whim to do the $15 dessert tasting for two--one dessert, one ice cream, plus 4 yummy side tastes--and it honest-to-goodness blew my mind. And I'm not even much of a sweet tooth.

The most intriguing thing I tasted was Cree's sassafrass ice cream, made with anise hyssop and sassafrass root (plus spices). I kept taking small spoonfuls and catching intriguing tastes of this, no that. It didn't quite taste like a rootbeer float, as our waiter had said, it was more like those little barrel-shaped rootbeer candies, with a strange, illusive heat somewhere that disappeared before you could nail exactly what it was. What a fantastic scoop of ice cream.

We also had an utterly perfect creme brulee flavored subtley with maple blossoms. Dessert-makers around the city would do themselves a favor by tasting this just for its gorgeous texture: smooth, light, impossibly creamy and not a bit pudding-like. Another wow.

Finally, the little tastes: a sweet pate de fruites with such condensed tart-sweet fruit flavor it was like an alarm clock to my tastebuds. But the kicker: homemade nutter butters, with the tiniest flecks of crispiness hidden inside. Almost like pop-rocks in the mouth, except peanut-buttery and delicious.

There was a long line outside of the new Capitol Hill Molly Moon's last night, and I'm a fan too. But for a dessert that'll make you think, that might leave you in awe or open your eyes to possibilities you might not have imagined, do yourself a favor and get to Poppy. Dana Cree's a serious talent.
102 1241466720 Tom Douglas Talks Pork on James Beard Red Carpet I love this video of Tom Douglas on the red carpet at the James Beard Awards tonight in NYC. Karen Johnson Tom Douglas, Seattle's always down-to-earth culinary king, strutted his stuff on the red carpet at the James Beard Foundation Awards in New York tonight. In addition to making a distinctly Pacific Northwest fashion statement (opting for a open color button down and his trademark moppy hair at the black tie affair), Douglas also offered NYC's fooderatti a gimpse into what very well may be his slow-roased pork-filled soul. 

Douglas, who was nominated for the Outstanding Restaurateur award, may have lost to New Yorker Drew Nieporent but we'll take solace in the fact that his trip was not in vain. Looks like he found a fave new NYC restaurant in the East Village's pork-centric eatery Porchetta. Take that James Beard (and swine flu)!

103 1241459700 James Beard Winners: Maria Hines & Rebekah Denn Seattle's foodie community scored a coup at the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards yesterday and today in New York. Karen Johnson Seattle's foodie community scored a double-whammy at the James Beard Foundation Awards yesterday and today in New York, scoring culinary and food writing awards at the prestigious ceremony.

Tilth chef Maria HInes, beat out top regional talent, taking home the award for Best Chef: Northwest. On the writing front, former Seattle P-I food writer Rebekah Denn won a Beard Journalism Award for her story about wooly pigs, "Super-succulent Imports Are Everything U.S. Pork Isn't".

104 1242387420 Perche No, Yellow Leaf Cupcake open today, more Craving cupcakes or caprese? Yellow Leaf Cupcakes opens today in Belltown, and Perche No reopens after a devastating fire. Plus: the scoop on Tavern Law and Bastille in Ballard. Allison Austin Scheff Restaurants

I had my first taste of veal at Perche No about 15 years ago. Alright, it might not have been my first, but it was definitely the most memorable: an enormous 3-inch thick chop heady with rosemary and garlic. I was a goner. Of course, that was back in their lower Queen Anne location. I never made it to the newer, salmon-colored locale near Green Lake. But happily, I'll get another chance to dine there, as the restaurant is reopening tonight after a devastating fire closed it in February. If you go, try their grilled portobello mushroom--if memory serves, it's tasty.

Today also marks the opening of Yellow Leaf Cupcakes, in Belltown at 4th Avenue and Blanchard Street. Nine flavors will be offered daily, but you can always count on finding chocolate, vanilla and red velvet among them. A nice selection of traditional and "dessert" teas--vanilla berry truffle, cinnamon fig--are offered, or opt for Victrola coffee, available in a French Press if you decide to sit and stay awhile.

In other news:

The chef-owners of Spur will open a second bar this summer in a coveted space at the base of Capitol Hill’s Trace Lofts building at 12th Avenue and Madison Street. Brian McCracken and Dana Tough are calling Tavern Law “speakeasy-like”—think old-school drinks, dim lighting, deep leather booths and a menu of throwback dishes—Monte Cristo sandwiches, butter lettuce salads with Green Goddess dressing. Expect doors to open in late June/early July.

Resist the temptation to roll your eyes at the news of yet another restaurant opening on old Ballard Avenue. Bastille—set to open in July—is worthy of a little thrilling anticipation. Not only does the restaurant herald the return of chef Shannon Galusha (of Veil, which closed a year ago), who’ll head up the kitchen at the casual French café in the old Obermaier Machine Works building (5307 Ballard. Ave.; bastilleseattle.com), but Seattle dining veterans will also recognize Peter Lewis, the man to thank for opening and managing Campagne for years and years. Lewis will be training and managing front-of-the-house staff (aka waiters, bussers).

And, a sign of the times: Inside the completely revamped space, the bar (60-seats) will actually be larger than the dining room (seating 50), and an outdoor patio will seat another 40. There’s also talk of a take-out window, for mid-day snacks and lunches. Did I mention the rooftop garden? Galusha is working with the folks at Seattle Urban Farm Company, who’ve built 18 raised beds planted with herbs, lettuces and seasonal veggies. Sprightly salads will showcase those greens, but don’t expect your typical seasonal-Northwest lineup: The menu at Bastille will be the stuff of French bistro dreams: pissaladiere (anchovy pizza popular in the south of France), roasted chicken, moules frites. See you in line.
 

105 1242645300 More Farmers Market open, sushi in Columbia City? Want an eat local challenge that's pretty easy to complete? Plan a Columbia City picnic. Plus, news of sushi in the south end. Allison Austin Scheff Restaurants A few farmers market updates for you:

Beginning this Wednesday, the Columbia City farmers market (3-7pm), will boast an Anita's Crepes booth--perfect for taking to the park to picnic with all the other families (and all their kiddos). Or throw together a last-minute picnic with goodies from the market: grab a walnut ficelle from Columbia City Bakery's stall, some fresh chevre from Port Madison Creamery's stall, and some perfectly sharp radishes from any of the vegetable farmers, plus some cider from Rockridge and maybe a truffle or two from Trevani for dessert.

This Saturday marks the first week of the Magnolia farmers market (10am-2pm), where Empire Ice Cream will be serving its newest flavor--Valentina Cheese, Roasted Fuji Apples and Caramel, made with Estrella cheese. I tasted this at the Ballard market yesterday and it's really more like a rich caramel-apple flavor--pretty tasty stuff.

For a full lineup of farmers markets (and when the one in your neighborhood opens), click here.

And one last note: It appears that the south-end's sushi glut may be filled soon. Wabi-Sabi Sushi applied for a liquor license last week, and the co-applicant's name is Thoa Nguyen. Could it possibly be this Thoa? If it is, my hopes just got a wee bit higher. I'll keep you posted.
108 1242751380 Local Food Writer Charms the Pants Off Nation Is Matthew Amster-Burton's Daughter Asian? No. But the 5-year-old sure loves Phad Thai, udon and Chinese dumplings. Watch the duo successfully charm the pants off the hosts of the CBS Early Show. Karen Johnson Food + Drink Local food writer and Seattle mag contributor, Matthew Amerster-Burton charmed the pants off of national audiences as a guest on the CBS Early Show. With his adorable 5-year-old daughter Iris (the inspiration for his new book, Hungry Monkey) in-tow, the two made Chinese dumplings and pasta. The little girl's love for Pad Thai and homemade udon noodles had Early Show host Julie Chen asking Matthew: “Are you sure Iris isn’t Asian?”

Check out the segment and watch Matthew tell the nation the hilarious story of how he“accidentally” fed the infant Iris chocolate:

Watch CBS Videos Online
109 1242882420 M's Fans: Ditch the Garlic Fries, Go For Poutine Any Seattle foodophile worth their weight in salt has tried Skillet Street Food by now. But have you eaten one of those honkin' cambazola and bacon jam burgers while watching Griffey at bat? Karen Johnson Any Seattle foodophile worth their weight in salt has tried Skillet Street Food by now. But have you chowed down on a honkin' cambazola, arugala and bacon jam burger while Griffey's at bat? If your (likely) answer is no, you have all summer to try it out. Skillet's Airstream trailer will be parked along Edgar Martinez Drive (just across the street from Safeco) on home game days through the rest of the season (service starts two-and-a-half hours before each game through first pitch).

While a coup for local fans--including our office, located yards away from the baseball field--eager for something other than the run-of-the mill ball park food, one has to wonder if Skillet's high-concept food-to-go is enough to get ball fans to think outside of the hot-dog box? Only time will tell. But Skillet sous chef, Peter Jakubisin, says he's seeing a growing stream of locals stop by. Oh, and the newcomers are trickling in, too, albeit with a lot of requests for “plain burgers”.

For now, all you sports fans would be wise to break away from the sports food pack and ditch the garlic fries for an order of poutine.


Skillet's menu (What's poutine you ask?)

110 1243423800 Street Eats: Marination Mobile debuts this week? Foodies are all aflutter over the imminent opening of Marination, Seattle's first Korean-Hawaiian truck--Kahlua-Spam sliders, anyone? And now, we know where to set up camp and wait. Allison Austin Scheff Marination is causing quite a stir among the fooderati, who, like me, have been following this soon-to-open Korean-Hawaiian taco truck's progress via their Twitter account (@curb_cuisine).

Last week, the Weekly's Maggie Dutton got a sneak peak at what they'll be serving, and boy does it look tasty (I'll take an order of that kimchi rice with fried eggs, thanks).

Now all that's left to do is memorize the schedule--Mondays in SODO, Wednesdays in Fremont, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays on Capitol Hill, Sundays in Ballard--and stalk the website, hoping to beat the masses and earn mobile chow bragging rights. I'll keep you posted.
111 1243595160 The Ultimate Chickpea Salad from Orangette Five simple ingredients is all it takes to create a tasty, summer salad Jamie Galvin Food Looking for a fresh and simple recipe to jazz up your summer cookouts? Seattle-based blogger and author, Molly Wizenberg (or Blog Lady as we dubbed her in this month’s issue), has emerged as a nationally recognized oracle in the world of food.

We just added her sensational chickpea salad recipe to the site–a light and healthy addition to any meal. Before you get cookin', here's as a personal tip from Molly herself: "Not all brands of canned chickpeas are the same. We like to make this salad with Goya, Bush's or Progresso chickpeas. Other brands can be hit or miss, often bland or mealy."
112 1243602360 Kirkland's Agua Verde opens Monday, more Get out your sunscreen and hit the beach: Agua Verde's Houghton Beach cafe opens next week, plus more restaurant updates Allison Austin Scheff We told you back in April about the pending opening of Agua Verde on the Eastside, and now comes news that they'll be opening on Monday, June 1st, just in time for more freakishly warm weather. Fish tacos, anyone?

Skillet has indeed joined the West Seattle hoardes heading to the farmers markets on Sundays, but they've been forced to park the Airstream 2 blocks west and 2 blocks south (to the corner of Genessee and 41st ). Read about the ongoing saga of finding Skillet a proper locale here.

Old School Frozen Custard is REALLY close to opening on Pike St. between 13th and 14th Streets (I walked by last night and peeked inside the papered-over windows). I've got a note into Nathan Hedin, the owner, to find out if he's got an exact opening date...stay tuned.

Fresh Bistro opened last week. If you've been, drop me a note @allison.scheff@seattlemag.com and let me know how it is. 

And finally: Delancey. Not quite open, but check out the almost-there interior here.
113 1243854000 Free Ice Cream! Er, Um, Free Custard! If all goes well, Old School Frozen Custard opens its doors tomorrow. But even better: they're celebrating with free frozen custard. Allison Austin Scheff Restaurants Never heard of frozen custard? Grab the nearest midwesterner, ask what it is and you'll likely get a swoony response: "soooo creamy," "amazing," or "fatty deliciousness." 

Since Seattle only has one frozen custard (fro-cust?) shop, the charming Peaks in Roosevelt, it's unlikely you've tasted the stuff lately. But it is delicious, and it IS different from ice cream--with a higher fat content, more eggs, and slow-churned to incorporate less air--and it tastes incredibly creamy and rich, with a fuller mouth-feel than most ice creams. When Old School Frozen Custard opens its Pike Street (at 14th Street) shop tomorrow, you can cool down with a scoop and taste for yourself.

Or wait 'til Saturday, June 6th, and get a FREE single-scoop cone between 3pm and 10pm. A line to rival Molly Moon's is a sure thing.
114 1243947180 Lorna Yee Gets a Sneak Peek at Bastille in Ballard Lorna Yee tours Ballard Ave's Obermaier Machine Works building to check out Bastille, a 200-seat Provencal-style restaurant, set to open June 29 Lorna Yee Food

I first met chef Shannon Galusha when he was cooking at Veil, a restaurant in Queen Anne that closed last year. My husband and I were Veil regulars, and enjoyed Galusha's cooking so much that we asked him to do the hors d'oeuvres at our wedding. He has an easy smile, and a self-effacing quality about him that is antithetical of the hyper-macho, egotistical “chef character” some have come to accept as par for the job. I was disappointed when Veil closed, but Galusha soon called me with news of Bastille, and invited me to come down and take a look at the space before its June 29th opening.

So a few days ago, I pushed my way through a makeshift wooden door at the Obermaier Machine Works building to what will soon be Bastille, a 200-seat Provencal-style restaurant on Ballard Ave, at the corner of NW Vernon Place. Galusha was standing in the middle of a major construction zone, looking a little frazzled as he spoke to a group of contractors as the screech of band saws and hammers littered the air.

The first thing Galusha wanted to show me was the zinc bar, a single, hand-carved 45-foot long functional showpiece. “This zinc bar is probably the biggest in America, maybe next to the one at Balthazar [famed bistro in New York],” Galusha says proudly. As we wind through the space, I ask Galusha if other restaurants inspire his vision for Bastille. “Café Charbon in Paris, definitely,” he answers. He also cites Balthazar, and Pastis in New York, and Anisette in Santa Monica as inspirations.

Much of what you’ll find at Bastille is handmade: the tables (including an 18-seat communal one), enormous carved mirror frames, and bar tables are all made from alowooe wood, a black-stained, hardwood product injected with an organic resin compound. The grand bar you’ll see to the right as you walk into the restaurant, Galusha tells me, is a late 1800s piece harvested from a local estate and was entirely rehabilitated by two carpenters over the course of three weeks. 

As we walked through the restaurant, it became apparent that the owners, Deming Maclise (Caffé Fiore) and James Weimann (who helped open Peso’s and May, among other local restaurants), were dedicated in their quest to use as many reclaimed materials as possible. Many of the pieces in the restaurant--the fifty, late 19th c. French lamps (many recovered from old churches), the three thousand-piece chandelier from an old Ballard mansion, the hundreds of postcards used to panel the restroom hallway, the salvaged fencing from Martin Luther causeway, and the black and white mosaic tiles--are relics Maclise and Weimann found on their travels overseas over the course of two and a half years.

Galusha has nothing but praise for Maclise and Weimann, citing that his major attraction to this project is that they’re both really good guys and amazing partners. (Galusha will act as managing partner, operations director, and chef when Bastille opens.) Other major players include Peter Lewis, founder of Campagne, who will be training the FOH staff and helping out with the wine list, and James Lechner as FOH manager (formerly of Monsoon and Café Campagne.) Galusha heaps praise on them too, calling them “the most gracious, service-oriented individuals in the city.”

The first stop on our tour? The kitchen, of course. Galusha ushers me in, and his excitement over a large rotisserie oven from Paris is palpable. I’ve seen these rotisserie ovens on TV before—they spin a great number of chickens at once, while the delicious drippings baste a tray of cut-up potatoes, turnips, and carrots at the bottom of the oven. “This,” says Galusha, “is the
115 1244474220 New Pig on the Block: Maximus-Minimus People are going hog wild for Maximus-Minimus, Seattle

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