It’s a confusing concept for some to grasp, but an easy answer to the question: “Why are there two London Planes?” Restaurateur Matt Dillon (Sitka & Spruce, The Corson Building, Bar Sajor) had every intention of creating two versions in Pioneer Square (300 & 322 Occidental Ave. S.; 206.624.1374; thelondonplaneseattle.com), starting last August with the initial, smaller London Plane acting as a tease to the much more expansive version that opened in February of this year. While the petite space on the southern end of the 300 block of Occidental (across from Bar Sajor) is more of a gathering place-cum-wine bar with charcuterie and salads, the second incarnation on the north end of the block is a full-fledged sit-down café, where you can grab fresh-baked pastries and coffee in the morning, a leisurely lunch in the afternoon, and gourmet to-go items, such as roast chicken, until 7 p.m. The space also doubles as Dillon’s pastry, deli and bread production facility—and is also a picture-perfect gourmet grocery. Here, you can buy everything from flowers, books and high-end soaps to kitchen utensils, sea salt and ceramics—all expertly curated by Dillon’s business partner and Marigold & Mint owner, Katherine Anderson.
The only thing cheerier than the dining room is the food, which has been the draw since day one—bright, seasonal fare that lifts your spirits just by looking at it. A trio of small salads ($12.50) is an incredibly healthy way to start your afternoon. The flavors change constantly, but if you ever see sprouting brassicas (think hearty vegetables, like cabbage and kale) and potatoes with turmeric and mustard seed oil on the menu, order it immediately. Same with the oil-cured tuna with roasted cabbage, anchovies and hearts of palm, topped with a soft-cooked egg ($13). It may be Seattle’s best salad. For an even simpler and quicker lunch, get the spreads and dips sampler served with Dillon’s homemade sourdough bread ($13). Lovely pairings like cashew, toasted coconut and beet chutney, and the amazingly flavorful (and sadly gone at press time) squash and tahini spread with pumpkin seeds are also available to take home, whether straight from the fully-stocked prepared foods case (during several visits, I spotted $16/pound meatballs and oil-cured tuna for $1.72/ounce), or, in some instances, already packaged for you in the refrigerator, along with other rotating high-end necessities (olives, sauerkraut, preserved lemon, chicken stock).
The beautiful food matches the beautiful décor: There’s an airiness to everything, which makes it feel like spring year-round inside the atrium-like marketplace. From the colorful flower arrangements to the huge white columns and floor-to-ceiling windows, London Plane is absolute eye candy. Just like Bar Sajor when it first opened, the experience Dillon is attempting to convey with London Plane is not merely a pretty one; it’s so far also a smashing success. Now with three businesses anchoring three corners of Occidental Plaza (two London Planes and Bar Sajor), Dillon has created somewhat of a town square. It feels good. It feels social. London Plane specifically has become a gathering spot for people who are really passionate about beautiful food and things in general. If you lived in Pioneer Square, you’d likely run into one of your friends every time you went shopping for essentials (salt, olive oil, bread) and items for an easy dinner (rotisserie chicken, meatballs, dips, salads). And those who don’t live in the neighborhood now have an excellent excuse to come visit.
The London Plane, 300 Occidental Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98104; 206.624.1374
Hours: Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat.–Sun., 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch