CHS cannot predict. Is this week’s coincidence of big-name food+drink debuts on the Hill the sign of a bubble or the further cementing of Capitol Hill’s place in Seattle’s entertainment economy? Either way, we’re glad to be here to tell some of the stories.
- Keeman Wong’s vision of “Classic Chinese Now” was unveiled this weekend on north Broadway. CHS attended a preview night at the brand spanking new Bako where any ghosts of the Jade Pagoda have been cleaned up and given subtly classy new outfits. It debuts in its public opening later this week — probably Wednesday though CHS is, frankly, tired of contributing to the “missed opening date” news game. Restaurant opening dates are fuzzy targets. Enjoy the ambiguity.
The glowing new space has been set up with a high long table separating some interesting small 1-on-1 booths and a row of tables along the southern wall. The northern side of the restaurant holds the bar — manned by the mustachioed Guy Lafitte — and the kitchen — and an exposed brick wall that is one of the only remnants left from the building’s past. In the bathroom hallway, Tina Randolph has recreated a vintage cigarette ad. “Pow!” Wong translates for us. “They’re ‘Made in America’ so you know they’re good, right?” Colors are mostly soft and muted. We didn’t notice a single instance of Chinese lantern-red in use.The menu features 20-some items, all designed to be shared, ranging from smaller appetizer plates around $8 to entrees like tea smoked scallops for $15. Other attendees of the preview gushed about the Cantonese chicken and the Eight Treasure Rice with pork, sausage and mushrooms. CHS will order the oxtail man tou buns again.
from $9 to $13$9 and feature descriptions including the mood the drink sets — “spunky” or “civility” or “hotel room.” The beverages are served as simply as possible — many in an undecorated tumbler with a thick slab block of ice. Drink ingredients tend toward the exotic with spices and, Lafitte boasts, goji berries from the Himalayas. He also steers you toward an off-menu “Chapter 2” drink list for Bako’s takes on standards. The bar menu contains two bonus items designed to accompany cocktails or the featured Roslyn beers: fried taro chips and sweet peanuts.Looking at Bako’s northern brick wall, it’s not hard to imagine — despite a bank and The Confectional between — a connection to Poppy’s southern wall just up the street. The restaurants seem likely to occupy a related and probably complementary space providing an upscale but mostly unpretentious dining experience on north Broadway, driven by a creative owner with the desire to introduce people to new — and delicious — things with just enough “Pow!” to keep them coming back.
Bako is located at 606 Broadway E. You can learn more at bakoseattle.com.
- As we noted last week, Bako is part of a wave of new up-per-scale experiences set to take their part in the Capitol Hill food+drink economy this week. Momiji, Oola and Altura — take your places.
- Not opening but closing: The original Bleu Bistro has been shuttered. CHS reported about the ongoing rift with the Bleu’s landlord and the original bistro’s uncertain future. Owner Ross McCartney opened Bleu Bistro’s Grotto nearby this summer so Bleu’s spirit stays alive and well in the area. We also reported on McCartney’s recent decision to sell The Buck to ginger beer entrepreneur Rachel Marshall — she’ll open Montana in the space soon. In 2010, McCartney began paring down his Capitol Hill mini-fleet with the closure of Chez Gaudy to make way for La Bete.
- How has business been for Canon in its first weeks? Look, statistics!
- Did you know that Neighbours and the HG Lodge are restaurants? Neither did the City of Seattle, apparently.
- Crab cracking demos and crab feeds at Taylor Shellfish. Yum. But can I get some of my $20 back if I *don’t* need you to show me how to crack a crab? Beer and wine at the shop, soon, Seattle Met says.
- Also time to buy tickets for Elysian’s Great Pumpkin Beer Festival. UPDATE Except, gasp, it’s moving to Elysian’s new Georgetown digs! (Sorry!)
- Chino’s on E Pike coming a little later than planned.
- Why we fight:
- “Best food of show, as judged by the Puget Sound Business Journal’s committee of one: the pressed pork crostini by Quinn’s gastropub of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. It was a pork confit pressed overnight, dusted with sugar and browned with a flame, then topped with a slice of preserved radish, micro-basil and a mustard-pork reduction, all served regally on a silver spoon.”
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- We heard great things about Friday night’s Capitol Hill Housing benefit, Omnivorous — two more Hill-related food+drink events of note coming up, by the way.
- Construction (demolition?) has begun in the old Tidbit space at Broadway and Union for 8oz Burger Bar Seattle. Our previous report on the project is here.