‘Family dinners among friends’ grow into Food at Cortona pop-up in the Central District

(Images: Food at Cortona)

(Images: Food at Cortona)

Given the amount of posturing, PR, and promotion that goes into the launch of typical new food and drink ventures in Seattle, it’s refreshing to see there are still opportunities for a simpler approach.

Food at Cortona is beginning its life as a two-day per week “pop-up” inside a Central District cafe. It seems like a prime opportunity for Central Seattle diners to say “I went there before it was cool.”

“The food we are offering is fun, delicious and thoughtfully sourced,” maitre d’ Leon Baham tells CHS about the start of his partnership with chef Zac Reynolds on what the friends and business partners say is the outgrowth of “family dinners among friends.”

Food at Cortona serves its meals on only Fridays and Saturdays at this point. Hours are 6 to 11:30 PM. You can start things with a sherry punch tea service for your table.

You may know Baham from his time at Tavern Law’s speakeasy-styled Needle and Thread. Some of Food’s low key style may owe itself to the speakeasy experience. “Zac trained in the French kitchen of NoMI in Chicago but has mostly come about his culinary style from working in private settings and interning on farms here in the Pacific Northwest,” his Food bio relates.

The intriguing menu is “seasonal” and “chef driven” with Eastern European and Pan-Asian flavors. By the look of things, sharing a few plates seems like the way to go:

Mackerel bbq

Mackerel bbq

Seaweed Salad

Seaweed Salad

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 12.58.39 PM

In conjunction with the arrival of Food, new owner Isolynn Dean is ramping up efforts at Cortona to present another nightlife option near 23rd and Union. The other nights of the week, Cortona has re-introduced beer and wine offerings and has plans to extend its hours. Meanwhile, a community effort to create a new parklet outside the cafe is underway.

Back with Food, a press release announcing the new venture makes the pitch: “Small plates are packed with flavor, color and creativity to encourage sharing and are delivered with warmth and attentiveness.” Just because its start is more pop-up than venture capital-backed investment doesn’t mean Food at Cortona has to be modest about its hopes.

Food at Cortona happens Friday and Saturday nights from 6 to 11:30 PM at 2425 E Union. You can learn more at foodtherestaurant.com.

5 thoughts on “‘Family dinners among friends’ grow into Food at Cortona pop-up in the Central District

  1. I ate here a couple of weeks ago, and the food was excellent. Very creative and friendly. They have outdoor seating too, so when the sun returns, I’ll head over again. :)

  2. Sounds intriguing and tasty! Just double checking though, there is no longer any connection to the Mars Hill church? It does say “new owner” in the piece above………

  3. We take reservations for parties of six or larger. Smaller parties can feel free to walk in anytime. We seat as promptly as we are able to. Thank you for asking!

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