19th and Mercer was a busy brand new Capitol Hill building Wednesday afternoon. In its southern retail space, the crew at new cookie bakery Hello Robin filled trays with chocolate chip dough as the Molly Moon’s counter was readied for business. In the middle, the all-star cast behind Cone & Steiner grocery and market were busy stocking shelves — and readying beer taps — as contractors finished work in the 1,600-square foot general store. The calmest space of the bunch was the building’s northern tenant.
Linda Derschang has done this before. But at Tallulah’s, you’ll find a new twist.
“I’m a little tired of vintage,” Derschang said Wednesday night. “I wanted something new for this.”
At 3,000 square feet, Tallulah’s is big enough to have room for plenty of things new and old and encompass separate smaller areas within. In the back, a comfy, more familiarly Derschang vintage approach creates an area with a bit of a diner feel. The big bar that runs the length of the room and rises above Moroccan tile is decidedly not vintage, however.
The food and drink is also a spin on the Linda you know. While the dinner, brunch menu and cocktail offerings are cut from similar cloth to Derschang’s previous creations, the food and drink will feel familiar with surprises just subtle enough to keep things entertaining and a few treats like gougères and a mix and match small plates menu. It might have been the hummus talking but we got a little Pacific Coast feel from the Tallulah’s offerings. The window wall on the north that filters onto E Mercer even felt a little like a California cliff house.
Wednesday night, Derschang debuted the new restaurant at a party for Seattle media and the occasional bold and curious neighbor. If all goes well after a few nights of friends and family dinners, Derschang is planning a “grand opening” for the day after Christmas. Neighbors in the area might luck into an early peek in the meantime.
As advertised, the space is most clearly mid-century modern — kind of like a Derschang from the future. Through it all are finishings and art stolen from her walls — including the giant piece featuring Cashmere the Persian kitty cat greeting customers at the entrance. Among the “new things” Derschang acquired for the space are set of wooden stools from the newly opened Tirto Furniture shop across the street.
The injection of so much food and drink love, energy and money into 19th and Mercer will bring more changes to this quieter side of Capitol Hill. On the edge of the single family homes around Miller Community Center, Stevens Elementary and Volunteer Park, the street’s longtime food and drink businesses seem likely to get a boost from the new energy. The Kingfish Cafe across the street from Tallulah’s was packed as usual Wednesday night. Meanwhile, Monsoon has begun an ambitious construction project to double it size.
Tallulah’s more immediate neighbors are also ready for their debuts. All of our past coverage on the trio of new food, drink and general store offerings on 19th Ave E can be found below. You’ll see more of Cone & Steiner next week as its opening nears. But you can visit (new CHS advertiser) Hello Robin right away. Owner and former Capitol Hill whoopie pie champion Robin Wehl Martin said she expects the shop melding her cookie bakery and a Molly Moon’s ice cream counter to be open to the public for the first time this Friday afternoon. Stop by to try something traditional like the molasses cookies or branch out to more interesting fare like a chocolate mint gluten free crackle. You can also pair the little creations with Molly Moon’s scoops. Once Cone & Steiner opens up, you can grab a quart of milk and a jug of beer on your way out.
- Time for Tallulah’s (and Cone & Steiner and Molly Moon’s and Hello Robin) at 19th and Mercer — Tallulah’s is a neighborhood café located on 19th and Mercer in Capitol Hill. The restaurant is designed by Derschang, Bill Falconer and Soni Davé-Schock. The feeling of the space is inspired by a recent trip to Morocco, a love of mid-century design and the feeling of Big Sur in the 1970’s. Some of the details include vintage brass lotus light fixtures, a marble bar top, Bertoia bar stools and a very large clock.
- Big Capitol Hill names behind Cone and Steiner grocery market project — “We want to hit on all the things you’d want if you need a jug of milk. Or a baguette,” Josh Henderson said of the plans for a neighborhood grocery market that provides shoppers with the things they need — and a few of things they didn’t yet know they needed like farm fresh cheeses or a new rolling pin.
- Linda readies ‘lighter’ Tallulah’s for December debut — “Oddfellows was the cafe I was dreaming for Pike/Pine,” Derschang said. “Tallulah’s is the cafe I’m dreaming of for my neighborhood.”
- Hello Robin and Molly Moon’s to join Tallulah’s on Capitol Hill’s 19th Ave E — Hello Robin will combine a cookie shop and cafe with a Molly Moon ice cream counter spreading the sweet treat entrepreneur’s reach deeper into Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill resident Moon Neitzel brought her Wallingford-born ice cream start-up to our neck of the woods in April, 2009.
- Derschang brings Tallulah’s to 19th Ave — “The look is still very much In the development stage but you can probably imagine knowing both SMITH and Oddfellows it will have a very Capitol Hill vibe,” Derschang told CHS vis email. “My goal will be to create a new favorite place in the neighborhood. It’s still more than a year away so it’s hard to design something that far into the future.”
Back at Tallulah’s, the assembled hacks and bloggers gathered in the restaurant Wednesday in front of the “very large” clock and bar to enjoy the design work of Bill Falconer and Soni Davé-Schock and drink director Adam Fream’s concoctions and flatbreads from chef Walter Edward. The space — designed to evoke “the feeling of Big Sur in the 1970’s” — is more modern than Oddfellows and brighter than the sooty Smith. The giant patio outside was worthless on a drizzly night with temperatures in the 40s but will undoubtedly be popular come summer.
Derschang, by the way, said she doesn’t really plan for December openings despite another pre-holiday push to launch one of her creations. Oddfellows debuted in December 2008 and Bait Shop, her most recent creation before Tallulah’s, docked on Broadway in December 2012. Any predictions where Linda will be in December 2014?
By the time December 26th, 2013 rolls around, Tallulah’s will serve dinner from 4pm-12am on Sunday-Thursday and 4pm-1am on Friday and Saturday and brunch from 9-3 on the weekends. Aneighborhoodcafe.com has the details.