Capitol Hill food+drink | L’Oursin and its ‘fruits de mer’ land in the CD

Proville and Overman (right) are hoping to crowdfund their new E Jefferson restaurant

Proville and Overman (right) are hoping to crowdfund their new E Jefferson restaurant

We are going to have to come up with a nickname for the food+drink neighborhood growing up around 12th and Jefferson. Or not. But there’s definitely something going on in the neighborhood.

“We were looking everywhere,” chef JJ Proville said of the search for a home for L’Oursin that brought the chef to E Jefferson. “It’s right in the spot where all those neighborhoods meet. Some people say it’s First Hill. Some say Central District.”

First time restaurant owners Proville and business partner and bar manager Zac Overman are in the final pushes of a summer buildout creating the new “French-influenced PNW restaurant” in the street level commercial space of a new four-story apartment building on E Jefferson. Next door, Monsoon sibling Seven Beef opened its cow palace last fall. Nearby, bike cafe Peloton and soulful soul food joint Nate’s Wings and Waffles round out the options in the two-block stretch. A boutique hotel and bakery are also planned to soon be part of the mix.

L’Oursin — “very promising,” Seattle Met says — will be a 50-seat, French-themed dinner restaurant with a focus on fresh, Pacific Northwest seafood, and small-producer, hand-made “natural wines” from Washington and France. Overman’s aperitifs and cocktails will be a highlight. “Eight or nine smaller, fun, and creative dishes — really interesting bottle of natural wine, maybe some seafood you haven’t seen before,” Proville said, keeping it simple. “We just want to do a good job.”

This piece of floor selflessly gave its life to make room for bar plumbing. Thank you, floor.

A photo posted by L’Oursin Seattle (@loursinseattle) on

We could turn the E Jefferson nickname thing over to Proville and Overman. The restaurant’s partners met in New York City while working in the food journalism business at StarChefs.com. After Proville eventually came west, Overman followed and the friends looked for an opportunity to collaborate on their own project based on Proville’s French roots. “My parents are French,” Proville said. “I grew up in LA, and in France near Geneva. To a French person, [L’Oursin] will makes sense. And there won’t be any typos on the menu.”

Proville says the ideas for L’Oursin have been kicking around in his head for years. “Our timing was just so bad in finding restaurant spaces,” Proville said. “We started looking about three years ago. Everything got really expensive.”

Even with the inspiration for L’Oursin transitioned to the Central District, the Pacific Northwest and our proximity to the sea remain a key ingredient for “The Urchin.” “I think seafood is really the Pacific Northwest. It’s one of the things we do best,” Proville said. As we learn more about the challenges faced by the world’s fish stocks due to climate change, Proville said he especially hopes to showcase underutilized, local seafood. “You’ve got to stray away from the usual salmon, halibut suspects. Those will always be fantastic. But there are a lot of interesting purveyors now for spot prawns, razor clams, clams, ling cod.”

This summer, the focus has shifted mostly to the buildout and contractors. Proville says L’Oursin is “progressing nicely” and slated to open around October. Metis Construction is leading the construction with plans from goC Studios, “of the famed Floating Sauna,” Proville emphasized. Proville has left Art of the Table to work full time on the new project. You can still find Overman behind the bar at Sitka and Spruce for a while longer.

The business partners are also turning to friends and fans to help raise funding for the project. They’re a little over half way to the $25,000 goal.

(Image: The Atlantic)

(Image: The Atlantic)

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • A Central District opening we haven’t said anything about yet? Happens. Here’s Eater on The Atlantic from the Altsadt family:
    The kitchen is overseen by chef Richard Cano, who most recently worked at Serafina. Cano has created a menu that includes a beef tongue French dip, housemade kimchi, a ginger molasses tofu bahn mi, and more.
  • RIP Catfish Corner.
  • Tavolata, the first sequel ever from Ethan Stowell, opened earlier this summer on E Pike. But it’s not quite finished. Permit paperwork indicates the project is also getting an ambitious, $50,000 “platform sidewalk café” — but probably not in time for this summer.
  • You can pre-order Jamie Boudreau’s new book: The Canon Cocktail Book: Recipes from the Award-Winning Bar.9780544631038
  • Gnochi Bar is in the food porn business:

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