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REVEL in Fremont: Husband-and-wife team Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi of Wallingford’s awesomeJoule bring you amped-up versions of Asian street food: pork belly pancakes, chorizo dumplings, and short ribs with daikon. Also: soju-based cocktails in the adjacent bar,Quoin, and a graffiti mural from local artist Pubs on the facade. Go now.
MADISON PARK CONSERVATORY in Madison Park: Cormac Mahoney—who cooked at Sitka & Spruce, then ran the lauded Tako Truk pop-up restaurant out of the 14 Carrot Cafe (octopus tacos!)—finally has a space of his own, where Sostanza Trattoria used to be. The seasonal menu features, according to the chef, “delicious plants and animals with a squeeze of lemon.” This place ought to be great. The website, however, is not.
5 CORNER MARKET in Ballard: Chef Sam Crannell’s résumé includes Oddfellows and Quinn’s, and 5 Corner Market’s menu looks mighty familiar (not that that’s a bad thing). He’s described his gastropub (where Lombardi’s was for 23 long years) as a home to “anti-molecular gastronomy,” meaning wood-roasted mussels, pulled barbecue whole hog, blackened lamb sirloin, beef fat chips (!), and artisanal cocktails made with small-batch liquors.
THAI CURRY SIMPLE on Capitol Hill: The 12th and Madison edition of T.C.S. is a to-go-only hut of awesomeness. Beware: People have been known to immediately become Thai Curry Simple fanatics.
And so much more—including Shawn Kemp's new lounge, conveniently located near Peso's!
UNEEDA BURGER in Fremont: Scott Staples (Zoe, Quinn’s) heaves his beef onto the upscale burger bandwagon, offering a standard patty plus a grass-fed option (for a surcharge, of course), with specials like elk and bison burgers. The space came from a market researcher’s dream, equipped with a double-bay garage door and vintage signage from Uneeda Auto & Boat Rebuild. Also: milkshakes made with local Empire Ice Cream.
RIDGEBACK CAFE in Ballard: The owner of the tremendously popular Hangar Cafe in Georgetown brings his menu of sweet and savory crepes, waffles, and sandwiches to Ballard. Also: beer, wine, and Stumptown coffee.
ST. DAMES in Columbia City: Located right by the light-rail stop, this vegetarian cafe has horseshoe-shaped booths and a great-looking bar (which makes a reportedly addictive muddled fresh-pear cocktail). Neighbors already love the portobello cheese “stake” sandwich and fried mushrooms.
HIGH 5 PIE on Capitol Hill: First it was doughnuts, then cupcakes, then ice cream, and now (yay!): PIE.
OSKAR’S KITCHEN in lower Queen Anne: A few doors up from Peso’s, Oskar’s features a lounge called the Bubble Room with a big tank of tropical fish behind the bar. Shawn Kemp owns Oskar’s. Oskar is one of the fish.
HARLOW’S SALOON in Ballard: The Moshi Moshi people—that’s the sushi place on Ballard Avenue with the giant LED-lit fake cherry tree—made a new dive bar. New dive bars are ontologically troubling.
Eltana: Overblown verbiage, good bagels.
ELTANA WOOD-FIRED BAGEL CAFE on Capitol Hill: Here you will find Montreal-style bagels, hand-rolled for “chewy deliciousness,” wood-fired for “more handsome”-ness, and smaller than most. Eltana's "culture and brand is based on the practical interpersonal wisdom developed by Jewish philosophers and teachers over thousands of years," with aspirations to "a popular, delicious and inclusive experience"—oy! But culture/brand aside, the bagels taste good (and the upscale-contemporary interior includes a giant crossword puzzle on the wall).
SATAY in Wallingford: Cheap Malaysian street food—curry, laksa (spicy coconut milk soup), and (obviously) various satay—in the former Avila space. Also: cheap beers and Mexican coke.
LE GRAND BISTRO AMÉRICAIN in Kirkland: Chef Scott Emerick, who made such great French food at Cremant before that whole situation went haywire, may now be found at this big bistro unfortunately located in Kirkland. The owner, who once owned used to work for the company that owned the Cucina! Cucina! (the! horror!) in the same spot, calls L.G.B.A. "an urban steakhouse and raw bar with a distinct French accent."
AVALON in West Seattle: After stints at L’Avenue in San Francisco, Zinfandel in Chicago, personal-cheffing in Hollywood, and with Italian monster-chain Maggiano’s, West Seattle native Deborah Breuler is back home, serving “local Pacific Northwest fare with a touch of Mediterranean flavor.”
GRIM’S on Capitol Hill: See Bar Exam, Dec 23. Grim’s calls itself a “social networking beer hall” with a “ghostly steampunk atmosphere.” It’s got new weathered wood, fresh “worn” fleur-de-lis wallpaper, distressed metal, big long tables, salvaged everything, drinks served in mason jars. (Upstairs is the even more complicated, but kind of neat, Butterfly Lounge.) If the space is trying really hard, the menu isn’t—not-too-pricey sandwiches and snacks—and an herbed leek and Asiago grilled cheese might be one of the best in town.
LE RÊVE BAKERY & CAFE in Queen Anne: A French-ish bakery and cafe located in a handsome red house on upper Queen Anne—some people say it’s marvelous, others say it’s too pricey (though since it’s on upper Queen Anne, that shouldn’t matter much).
HARISSA in Ravenna: In the former Himalayan Kitchen (and many other places) space, this Mediterranean restaurant serves Lebanese stews, a few pastas, and kebabs (with the odd choice of tabbouleh or a Caesar). Prices hover in the mid- to high teens per plate.