If you were saddened by the recent closure of Karam’s and the void it left for Middle Eastern dining on Capitol Hill, don’t fret. Harissa Lebanese Cuisine will have your neighborhood kebab fix before summer’s end with some strong parallels to its Lebanese predecessor. Not only will Harissa occupy Karam’s 15 Ave. E. location adjacent the Bagel Deli, but like Karam’s, the new restaurateurs are bottling and selling their own made-from-scratch sauces.
Harissa is slated to open in mid-August. It’s Walid Alabtan’s first expansion of his three-year-old Ravenna restaurant, Harissa Mediterranean Cuisine. Most of the equipment and permitting at the new location is ready to go.
It’s not coincidental that Harissa is replacing Karam’s. Alabtan said he has known Anis and Julie Karam for years and had been discussing a takeover. When the couple decided to retire this year, Alabtan expanded.
“The Karams really loved what we were doing in the Ravenna neighborhood,” he said.
Alabtan said the new restaurant will be, more or less, exactly the same as his first. The Ravenna location is a relaxed, white table cloth affair with mid-range prices. The focus is authentic Lebanese. Mezze options include eggplant salad, baba ghanouj, hummus, and more for $7-$8. Kebab plates and Lebanese stews run between $16-$20.
“We have a very unique menu, it’s real Lebanese food,” Alabtan said. “I’ve been putting it together for 20 years.”
The new restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner and permits to sell wine, beer, and spirits are pending.
15th Ave E’s food and drink environment has been busy this summer. Last week, CHS reported on preparations for a major overhaul to the area’s elder statesman, Coastal Kitchen. Earlier, we reported on the changes of hands behind two Asian eateries on the strip including the return of the owner behind Pho 900 with a new Vietnamese restaurant Bamboo – thanks for the picture, @christopher575. The largest, most significant changes are yet to come as the joint debuts of The Wandering Goose bakery and cafe and neighborhood-style trattoria Rione XIII are expected in coming weeks once construction of the new spaces is complete. Meanwhile, the “remodel” of 22 is underway.
Harissa also joins a growing Capitol Hill community of Middle Eastern cuisine. Though Gyro World has left us (RIP), Mediterranean Express and Byzantion hang in there on Broadway as does the Gyro Cafe on 15th across from Group Health. An investment at an entirely different level is also underway on Melrose as first-time restaurant backers Wassef and Racha Haroun prepare Mamnoon for a debut in coming months.
Harissa’s Alabtan is of Lebanese-Iranian background, but his culinary experience goes far beyond the Middle East. In 20 years as a chef, he’s made his rounds through various Seattle kitchens, including Bombay Grill in the U-District, Tamarind Tree is in the I.D., teriyaki joints, and his own short lived Wallingford Vietnamese restaurant in the early 90s.
In addition to the new restaurant, Alabtan also recently expanded into retail with two sauces bottled under the label Harissa Mezza. A Lebanese walnut salsa and eggplant salad hit the shelves of the West Seattle Thriftway just six weeks ago; Alabtan plans to expand to more stores in the near future.
The sauces, which are used in Harissa dishes, became so popular that customers started asking to take them home, Alabtan told CHS. After selling the sauces in to-go containers from the Ravenna restaurant, Alabtan decided to make them more widely available.
“The eggplant salad is really unique, something you can’t find anywhere else,” he said.
And while the restaurant is gone, you can also still get Karam’s sauces at garlicsauce.com
- If you missed it last week, CHS broke the news — 12th Ave is getting a new Bierpalast — Poquitos team making plans to lift a mug in new 12th Ave Austrian beer hall
- Bauhaus is expanding… to Ballard. Meanwhile, the city’s design review board signed off on the first steps to develop the “Bauhaus block” of E Pine into a seven-story, mixed-use apartment building. Bauhaus ownership has already announced it will return to Melrose and Pine at the completion of construction. That could start as early as next summer.
Capitol Hill’s Casey Cooper is teaming up on a new street food project, testing his concepts against local pie competition — and inviting people to jump in to help kick-start 314 PIE:
Casey Cooper and Deke Kotrla, residents of Seattle’s Capitol Hill a
nd Wallingford neighborhoods, are in the final stages of opening a food truck to serve Australia/New Zealand-style savory pies to the people of Seattle. The truck is expected to join Seattle’s emerging gourmet food truck culture in August.
After extensive travel in New Zealand and Australia, Deke brought his idea to Seattle. Casey, a pastry chef with seven years of experience, perfected the recipes. The truck will feature traditional pies, such as steak and onion, as well as more exotic flavors, like seasonal seafood chowder, Thai chicken curry, and vegetable curry. The truck will also serve American style fruit pies for dessert.
Casey and Deke designed the truck from scratch to be environmentally friendly and versatile. It runs quietly and cleanly with no generator and no electrical plug-in required. It also fits in a single, standard-sized parking spot.
314 Pie is now running a campaign on Kickstarter, the Internet crowdfunding Web site, to raise funds to complete the truck. Backers of the project get rewards like the chance to have their name and message inscribed on the truck, or the opportunity to work with Casey and Deke to design a custom pie. These rewards have helped the campaign raise over $2200 of its $10,000 goal within four days of launching. Links to the Kickstarter campaign are on 314 Pie’s Web page, www.314PieSeattle.com.
- CHS told you in June about the plan for a new gaming cafe backed by Capitol Hill’s Gamma Ray Games replacing Travelers on E Pine. That project has an official name now — The Raygun Lounge — and a kickstarter site to help the project raise funding while providing fans opportunities to pitch in and earn exclusive perks. The effort hardly seems to need a promotional boost from CHS, however. Backers have already pledged more than $9,000 toward the project’s $10,000 goal.
- Marination is doing “boozy” shaved ice when it opens its new West Seattle location. You can get cocktail slushies at Artusi here on the Hill and add-your-own shaved ice at walk-up Little Uncle.
- 8oz. Burger Bar is celebrating a very special holiday this coming Saturday. “On Saturday, July 28, National Hamburger Day, 8oz. Burger Bar will be giving out free sliders from 4-6 p.m.”
- Monsoon is again offering lunch box delivery: “The menu is full of Monsoon favorites, including refreshing Vermicelli Bowls with grilled local free-range chicken, Painted Hills steak, or pan-seared Idaho catfish, and satisfying Rice Bowls with crispy drunken chicken or braised Asian eggplant. A selection of Fresh Rolls, Sides, and Salads are also available, and a piece of Monsoon’s beloved Banana Cake comes complimentary with every bowl ordered. Prices range from $8 to $15 and orders need to by placed by 8pm the previous day.”
Old School Frozen Custardclosed the doors at its original Bonney Lake location but will reportedly continue to operate on E Pike and at a new location in Fremont. Signs at the Capitol Hill location also tout Old School’s breakfast options.
- Honeyhole rolled out a new drink menu featuring (cheaper!) “fresh squeezed juice cocktails.”
- Ziggy MarleydoesHealeo
- A Butterworth visits the old Butterworth Mortuary — now, The Pine Box.
- Where does Seattle Met’s food and drink editor choose to have her last meal as a Capitol Hill resident. Ask Twitter. What does she think of La Bete? Ask the Met.
- From the CHS Flickr pool, happy Capitol Hill summer:
This week’s CHS food+drink advertiser directory