Food News: RN74 Opens, Frank Bruni Eats Seattle for the New York Times, More

RN74 Seattle

RN74 Seattle, the local outpost of the Michael Mina wine bar concept so popular in San Francisco, debuts today on 4th and Pine Streets (for lunch) and Thursday for dinner. The restaurant held some soft-opening parties this weekend; see pictures of the place over on Eater.

And if you were wondering: Yes, Mur the Blur (Murray Stenson, bartender extraordinaire) has left Zig Zag to take a job with RN74. But! Murray's got an injured shoulder to nurse, so it'll be a few months until he's front-and-center behind RN74's bar. Meantime, Zig Zag is in the steady, perfectly capable hands of Murray's longtime cocktail buddy, Erik Hakkinen.

In case you missed it: Zippy's is open in its new White Center location, and Josh Henderson opened the Skillet Diner on 14th and Union two weeks ago, and the place is darling to look at and busy busy busy.

Finally, sorry Portland: it looks like it's our turn to be the New York Times' Northwest darling. Frank Bruni, who worked at the New York Times restaurant critic for six years, wrote a Travel section piece (published yesterday) praising our oysters, Dungeness, mentioning lots of favorites (Tavern Law, Walrus & Carpenter, Madison Park Conservatory) and taking a road trip to Lummi Island to visit Willows Inn (watch for my Island Dining feature next month for gorgeous pictures and my take on Willows). It's always a delight to see Seattle given some much-deserved love.

But as a local reviewer and food writer, I found it an interesting piece for a couple of reasons. First,  I couldn't help but feel a twinge of annoyance that such a great writer fell so willingly into the town cliches around biking, weather and whatnot. This takes almost as much work as going to New York and writing about how everyone talks with such funny Brooklyn accents.

The most intriguing part, though, is what Bruni chose not to say. Granted, he's no longer a "food critic," but one can almost sense him straining at the bit because of that fact. To wit: He goes to the edge but doesn't quite call Blaine Wetzel's food at Willows Inn derivative. Then again, how would most of us ever know? I can count on one finger the number of people I know personally who've eaten at both Noma and at Willows. But Wetzel was Bruni's English-speaking contact when Bruni visited Denmark for last year's glorious Noma story. So Bruni would know, but he pulls back. Why?

Finally, Bruni named Maria Hines' Tilth one of the 10 Best New Restaurants in the Country back in 2008. But he rolled right over his mention of her latest, the Golden Beetle. Hmmm, I think I know why; you can read my review in our July issue.