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Now & Then: Beloved French Bistro Cassis Opens on Alki After Decade-Long Hiatus
If you never got the chance to visit the much celebrated Cassis when it was located on Capitol Hill from 1997 to 2004, you have another chance. Cassis 2.0 is now open for business, and while no longer on the Hill or located in a weathered old brick building, there are many original comforts intact at the new incarnation of the French bistro.
Owner Jef Fike was more than happy to sit down and chat prior to yesterday’s official opening of his new place in West Seattle (2820 Alki Ave SW) next door to Cactus. After all, it was more than a year ago he announced his plans to bring back his lost love after a very successful seven-year hang on 10th Ave. E. in the space Skelly & the Bean eventually took over. Today, Fike’s old gal has slapped on some makeup and let her hair down with a new casual spot that overlooks the water. Here are a few other differences he notes.
Happy hour: “Doing a happy hour here is very different, because we had no traffic up [on Capitol Hill] for it; nobody was interested in anything early or late. So, that’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.”
Location: “Having that view, a door to roll up, and outdoor seating in the summer is pretty awesome.”
Décor: “I wanted to make this a little slicker, but still warm. I basically used the same colors as we had [at the original Cassis], but I think it’s a little more streamlined.” A guy named Tom Harris from Solutions in Color did the design work. Just so happens Harris was a customer at the original Cassis and offered to do the build out.
Regulars of the original Cassis can take comfort in knowing that there are lots of similarities, too.
The monthly-rotating menu: “Our freezer is only big enough for ice cream and sorbet, so we’re getting product in every single day. And I love that — I love the whole idea of freshness and changing with the seasons. I love those meetings, sitting down the third weekend of every month with the pastry chef and Andy and saying, “okay, what can we get next month that’s fresh? Let’s build a menu.”
Staples: Things like the frisee salad, mussels, fish soup, and steak frites will never go away. The rest of the menu will change every month. You can check out the entire menu online.
Furnishings: Fike has tucked around little pieces “here and there” from the old Cassis, like the mirror that was behind the original bar and sketches of his old restaurant.
This will be an interesting experiment to see if a restaurant deemed "upscale" can make it in the neighborhood that many claim is “way too far away” to cross the bridge for. Having lived in West Seattle for 16 years, I saw the comings and goings of fantastic places like Ovio Bistro, Beato, and the casualization of Spring Hill to Ma’ono Fried Chicken & Whisky. And Fike knows this.
“I wanted the restaurant to be beautiful, but I didn’t want it to be off-putting to anybody. I didn’t want people to walk by and go, ‘Ooh, it’s too fancy. We can’t eat there,’ especially in the summer, with the flip-flop fanny-pack crowd. I don’t want people to be afraid to come in here.”
Cassis is open for dinner 4 to 10 pm, closed only on Tuesdays. If there’s a demand for it on the weekends, Fike will keep it open later. Do give this new charmer a try.