We're in a familiar spring lull. Seems this time every year there's a short stretch of anticipatory time just before several restaurants open, in time for high summer. This year there are several worth watching for, including a major Tom Douglas project and a hidden Ballard spot from Renee Erickson. Here's what you need to know.
Westward: Josh Henderson's (Skillet Diner) watefront, boat-up north Lake Union seafood spot with views and decks for days. On the menu: crab, either in a gratin with cavatelli and béchamel, or in a crazy-sounding crab Reuben with kombu sauerkraut, oysters on the half shell or baked with creamy lentils and lardo, peel-and-eat spot prawns, and much more. Plus a scratch cocktail and drink menu—hello, Micheladas!—worth checking out (details right here). Adjoining you'll find Little Gull, a 15 seat oyster bar and handy-dandy grocery for all your boating needs—beer, wine and deli-type foods to-go.
RGBMarket: Rachel Marshall (that's her smiling face just to the right) scored the lease on the iconic Post Alley corner space where Seattle's Best Coffee lived for nearly 30 years before closing earlier this year. In July, she'll open a kid-friendly soda shop showcasing her locally famous ginger beer. Of course local drinkers know that Rachel’s Ginger Beer stars in many a cocktail around town, most notably at Marshall’s own friendly Capitol Hill dive bar, Montana, where the sharp, tart ginger beer is mixed with fresh lime juice and vodka in her inestimable Moscow Mule, served on tap. At RGBMarket, folks will be able to hop on stools and sip one of the five seasonal ginger beer flavors (think blackberry, strawberry, apple, even beet, and note: even though it’s called beer, ginger beer is nonalcoholic) by day, or stop in for grownup drinks come nighttime.
Opening: July 14th
Stoneburner: Anchoring the new Hotel Ballard (more on that right here) will be this, chef Jason Stoneburner's eponymous restaurant. Owners are James Weimann and Deming Maclise (Poquitos, Bastille, Von Trapps), so you know the interior will be decked out, and the bar's being overseen by Eric Carlson (once of Moshi Moshi, now overseeing all Maclise-Weimann bar programs). Seasonally inspired pastas and pizzas are the main draw, along with plenty of farm-fresh veggies from the farmers market.
Barnacle: Renee Erickson's latest will be a wine and aperitivi bar/waiting room for Walrus & Carpenter. Smart! The small space (room for 20ish) will adjoin Walrus like, well, a barnacle (it'll be in the rear of the space next door, once the back of the Dutch Bike Company). Expect a short menu of nibbly foods; Erickson's in Italy cicchetti'ing around for research/inspiration as we speak.
Opening: August or September
Aragona: Food-wise, this is the most exciting opening of the bunch. Jason Stratton's proven his finesse with the fine foods of Italy's Piedmont region at the beloved Spinasse; adjoining Artusi is equally lovable and has steadily developed into a dining destination in its own right. Now comes news that Stratton'll be schooling us on the finer points of Spanish cooking when he opens Aragona in late summer/early fall in a downtown location still TBD. I'm told that Carrie Mashaney, who's been Stratton's right-hand woman at Spinasse for a couple of years, will lead the kitchen. We'll be keeping close tabs on this one. At right: Carrie Mashaney.
London Plane: A Matt Dillon-owned bread and pastry bakery has been a long time coming, and Dillon's got quite the talented team in place. London Plane, a mixed-use space, will house it along with a wine bar, a flower shop (owned by Dillon's partner in London Plane, Katherine Anderson, who owns Marigold & Mint in the Melrose Market) and a private dining area (more here). It's yet another reason to get excited about the changes (culinary, in many cases) coming to Pioneer Square.