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Capitol Hill food+drink | Wandering Ethan Stowell looks at 15th Ave E

(Image: CHS)

Here’s to 3p happy hours. Tip your blogger: [email protected].

  • To get a handle on what is happening at the in-progress 15th Ave E project The Wandering Goose, look to Ballard where in 2010 Ethan Stowell joined together with Renee Erickson to fill a 2,400 square-foot space. It’s just like Stowell’s Staple and Fancy and Erickson’s the Walrus and the Carpenter — except Stowell says he may not be doing it. 

He’s not sure. It’s up in the air. Nothing is signed. But if you look past all those, you know, details, Stowell says 15th Ave E looks like a good home.

“We like the direction of going into interesting buildings where we can put forward a solid business in a location that will do well,” Stowell said.

Though Stowell still isn’t on the paperwork — “I think we’ll probably do it,” he said — Heather Earnhardt does have a lease for her part of the old gift shop space, The Wandering Goose. We first reported on her plans around The Wandering Goose in January and the sprawling project that also includes Caffe Vita’s Mike McConnell and Fuel/High 5’s Dani Cone. Earnhardt has posted a preview of what is to come on posters in the windows of the Goose’s future home:

(Image: CHS)


Opening June 2012, The Wandering Goose will be brightening 15th Ave Easts’s mornings with freshly baked pastries and southern inspired breakfast/lunch fare. Keeping true to her North Carolina roots, Heather Earnhardt will bring a southern touch to this neighborhood of Capitol Hill.

[biscuits… cookies… layer cakes… breakfast… lunch… baking classes… cooking classes… retail foodstuffs, pimento mac& cheese, hushpuppies… bubble & squeak… grits & grillades… hangtown fry… Aunt Annie’s [Fried Chicken, Bread & Butter Pickles] biscuits… sauteed greens w/ potlikker… pimento cheese… The Big Trouble [Peanut Butter Bacon Banana Biscuit]… crock pot grits… country pan sausage… biscuits!… country ham… sawmill gravy… sausage gravy… chow-chow… oh, and biscuits!]

With the caveats above, Stowell has a plan for his part of the space, too. After his recent interview in Montreal shed significant light on some of his next steps here in Seattle, Stowell told us, yes, if he ends up part of the 15th Ave E project, his contribution will be the “classic Roman-style trattoria” he talked about. “We’ll serve things like braised artichokes, a mozzarella bar, stewed oxtail, really classic Roman pastas,” Stowell is quoted as saying.

“If we do it, it will be an Ethan Stowell [restaurant] not a Grub Brothers restaurant,” Stowell said referencing his “fast casual” project.

So, it will be, what? Slow and serious? “The idea is to be more sit down with a full bar program and a more involved menu,” he said. “There will be some viewing between the two spaces, some cross marketing, some crossing over of energy.”

“It’s two restaurants in one space,” Stowell said. “We have no association together at all. We know each other. We want to be neighbors to each other.”

As much as things are still in the air, as the buildout of the space is already underway, Stowell also said he thinks 15th Ave E will make a good home. “We like the location. We like the space. The building is a really cool old building.”

Now Stowell just needs to sign the lease.

  • We’ll have coverage of Monday’s public hearing on extended service in front of the Washington Liquor Control Board soon but, in meantime, some of our favorite moments: Speaker warning board that Washington is on way to becoming most deregulated state in nation when it comes to liquor, speaker warning board that people will use “social media” to discover which bars are serving late and a real-life bartender explaining to board about the problem with the last call binge. Board says not to expect a decision on whether cities will be able to petition for longer service hours until early May.
  • Speaking of booze, we wrote about Capitol Hill’s Oola taking its fate in its own hands with its start of self-distribution. Another craft distillery on the Hill says it is taking a different path for distribution. Sun Liquor’s Andrea Chapman sent along the following:

Just wanted to let you know that we have just finalized an agreement with Andrew Bohrer and the team at Vinum Importing and Distribution, LLC! They will distribute Sun Liquor Mfg spirits for us in the Washington & Oregon markets. Thank you so much for following our progress and supporting Cap Hill small businesses!

Sun is also planning a whiskey class later this month.

  • Looks like Ba Bar has a plan to overhaul its cocktail strategy following recent drama:
  • Broadway Cafe is back from vacation:

    Broadway Cafe is back (Image: CHS)

  • Want to buy a Capitol Hill state liquor store? How about a wine shop?
  • Vita and Via Trib take their act to NYC.
  • Don’t know what it means to serve a “Most Life-Changing” burger but Dick’s wins. Oh, it means Dick’s is a social media machine.
  • Cherry Street is hiring baristas for its new Seattle University location.
  • New CSA will mix local produce, goods from Melrose Market.
  • You can also now enjoy happy hour at Bar Ferdinand.
  • Just in time for St. Patrick’s, meat and potatoes at the Lookout. “I’m a curvy Irish girl, and, as such, I tend to stay away from carbs after 8:00p.m…”
  • BottleNeck turned 5 Friday night.
  • This year, the Broadway farmers market, next year? Brick and mortar, perhaps. Details on Juice Box.
  • In one of the more fascinating recent Seattle food journalism interviews, Crosscut talks to the couple behind Chino’s and, well, you read it:

“We’re feeling a little lost in the sauce right now,” Mari, 29, said. “We’ve had to start in square one with everything … In all ways, we are out of our league. Look around us. You have Café Vita, Quinn’s, the Unicorn, Poquitos. They’re all very established, with tried and true business models. It can be a little demoralizing being next to them sometimes, especially when you see they’re always packed.”

Crosscut goes on to give restaurants like Revel and Paquitos, um, credit for their “pasteurization” of street food.

  • Mod Pizza gets pizza trade press for new kid-sized offering: “The item was created to appeal to kids and adults with smaller appetites.”
  • Craigslisting so you don’t have to. Links will expire so click early. All of these restaurants are still operating even with landlords on the hunt for new tenants looming in the background. Pho Tai space still for lease. Same goes for Tacos Guaymas. And Ballet.
  • We invited CHS commenters to offer constructive feedback to their favorite Capitol Hill restaurants and bars. Here is what they said.
  • This week’s food porn from the CHS Flickr pool:

  • Quit Ribbing Me, originally uploaded by sea turtle.

This week’s CHS food+drink advertiser directory

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9 years ago

OMG that’s a metric shit-ton of money, especially to be paid up front. Who can afford this? I get it; milk the yuppies, but…DAMN.

9 years ago

speaking of happy hour. when’s the next chs happy hour? it’s been a while.

9 years ago

while i wish the owners the best of luck, i think some of their problems could have been solved with better market research. was there really a big demand for taiwanese, mexican fusion street food when they put their business plan together?

it’s great that they love that style of food but you can’t force the public to want it.

A neighbor
9 years ago

Is that their sign with the 2 week vacation? Must not want it bad enough if they’re willing to close it down for 2 weeks.

If they don’t take their business seriously, why should we?

9 years ago

Yeah, I might point this out to someone who can afford it but given that my own grocery budget is about $25 a week, I’m thinking nope. Just about choked when I saw the cost.

9 years ago

I have been in there several times in the food is good. I think it is a little expensive and would like to see more options on the menu.

9 years ago

RE: “A neighbor”

No, it is not our sign. That photo appears to be for the story on the Ethan Stowell/15th Ave. thing.

And for your information, we do “want it bad enough”! Thanks.

-The Management at Chino’s

9 years ago

I hate to crap all over something as hyper-local as a Melrose Market CSA, but Bethundra, have you taken a look at Full Circle Farms? Their “single person” box costs $22 a week and always lasts 7-8 days. Deliveries happen every Tuesday night to your door as well.

I love it. Their option to choose different veggies or going with a default rotation is great too.

9 years ago

I feel sorry for restaurant owners. Unfortunately opening up a restaurant is like throwing your money into a black hole 9 times out of 10. Ethan Stowell is able to open up multiple restaurants because his family had access to investors from the start, lucky him. I would like to check out Chino’s since I didn’t even know it existed.

9 years ago

I’d say that the sign is from Broadway Cafe, given that the caption next to the photo reads: “Broadway Cafe is back from vacation”

I wish Chinos best of luck – been wanting to try it out but the stars haven’t aligned yet.

Edit: Yes, definitely from Broadway Cafe – hard to read, but you can see the name of the restaurant at the top of the photo.

9 years ago

Oiseau, I’ve never really been impressed with FCF. I’ve tried them several times and it seems like I’m always having to immediately compost a lot rotting veggies or fruit straight from the box. I know they will credit that kind of thing but it was annoying when it happened every week.

9 years ago

that article makes me want to try Chino’s. Quite frankly, I pass by Poquito’s, Quinn’s, Barrio, and most of the other upscale hipster joints. I’ll gladly take a chance on something a little different.

And it took me a minute to realize that photo of the vacation sign was for Broadway Cafe, not Chino’s.

9 years ago

Sorry for confusion. Added a caption to try to make things more clear

9 years ago

Oh darn. That sucks. I’ve had generally good luck with their veggies. Have you tried any other CSAs? I’d be interested to hear about the other options out there just in case.

9 years ago

Yeah, that sign was on Broadway Cafe. I went there a few weeks ago and saw this. I was disappointed because I LOVE their pho. So yeah, though I was disappointed, I feel that these two are allowed to take a few weeks off once and a while. It is a restaurant that is owned and run by only two people and they still produce the best pho I’ve had in Seattle.

Also, aren’t Poquito’s, Quinn’s, Barrio, etc more like Little Bellevue, than “hipster?” Aren’t the hipster hotspots Cha Cha/Bimbo’s, Big Marios, and The Unicorn? Places that have their own attempts to market a “different” sort of food (4 dollar slices of [goodish] pizza, “carnival food” – i.e. corn dog madame [yup, a corn dog, gruyere, and an egg], etc)?

9 years ago

Its unfortunate Chino’s isn’t having more success – they are one of the better places to eat in Pike/Pine. Their food is pretty consistent, well-flavored, and well-seasoned. And they’ve done a good job pulling off the ethnic street-food/fusion thing – far better than some of the more popular joints in the area. (Poquito’s should be embarrassed to call themselves anything other than “what white people think Mexican food tastes like” and Boom is nothing more than poorly executed, standard fare Asian with a higher price tag – the fact that they have to rename their Bun Thit Nuong into Vietnamese Cold Noodle Salad should tell you everything you need to know about what it takes to succeed as a restaurant in Seattle). Unfortunately for Chino’s, Seattle diners aren’t nearly as adventurous or educated as San Francisco, LA or NYC. Their pig ear salad would fly out the door in those cities; Crosscut is right – in Seattle, you need to dumb it down to “crunchy pork tapenade”.

They are also the closest thing Seattle has to a tiki bar serving authentic tiki drinks, with fresh juices, and according to the original Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber recipes. Again, in a city like LA or SF or NYC, being the only real tiki bar in town would mean crowds most days of the week. Here, folks don’t know what to do with it.

9 years ago

I think Seattleites just possibly don’t care about tiki bars? Also, SF is a WONDERFUL food town, but yeah junk parts of animals being chic is sort of a cliche now isn’t it? Maybe Seattle’s strength is more in it’s veggie options or it’s mid-range options than with boutique food?

beep beep
9 years ago


For this quality, that’s a fairly decent price. Def going to look into this and probably opt in….

Happy to see this so close to my house!

9 years ago

interesting article. I went there for the first time not too long ago and I’d definitely agree that the concept seemed unclear/ confused. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was going in, and I was even less sure going out! But I will admit to not knowing much (anything?) about Taiwanese food or the LA food scene.

9 years ago

I’ve been to Chino’s once and the food was delicious.

But without a friend recommending it, I would have barely known it was there. I tend to stay off of Pike/Pine but if I went there, Chino’s could definitely turn into a favourite place. Small weird plates, decent drinks, and the casual atmosphere.

9 years ago

Oiseau: I haven’t tried any others. I think I looked into some but they were costly or didn’t deliver to my neighborhood. I showed this to the boyfriend, however, and I think he’s going to opt in so I’m pretty excited about being able to steal some of his things and be on the receiving end of delicious meals.

As for me, I finally got a p-patch after being on a wait list for years so I’ll have my own veggies soon enough! Woo!

9 years ago

No kidding. That’s not a CSA. That’s a door-to-door personal shopper for Whole Foods. Just with a quick back of the envelope with some rough cost estimates:

1 loaf bread – $4
6 eggs – $4
1 dairy product (yogurt, etc.) – $5
1 jar jam – $8
1 bottle wine – $15

That leaves $49 for the fruits and veggies. A weekly produce CSA should cost you around $25 – $30. That leaves $19 on the table – even if you add a few bucks to the above, its still a total ripoff. And a quick review of the meat share prices also look overpriced. (I’ve bought from meat CSAs and direct from farm before)

9 years ago

I’ve been with Boistfort Valley Farm (Curtis, WA) for nearly 15 years. Amazing, organic CSA. 2 convenient Capitol Hill drop sites.

Flowers every week is a great bonus.

They do a small and family share and this year are starting a “petite” share, perfect for singles. It’s only $19/wk or $18.25/wk prepaid.

Heidi and Mike are the farmers:

9 years ago

@Alan – Thx – I will have to check out Boistfort Farm. Prices looks comparable for a 2-person share compared to what I was paying for weekly CSA down in the Bay Area. Plus, looks like during winter months they do a monthly box. Really missing my CSA produce. If you hunt around, I’ve found CSA boxes should run about even with what you’d pay at a farmer’s market- with the added bonus of at-home or close to home delivery.

9 years ago

Personally I LOVE!! tiki bars though they don’t seem to survive in Seattle. Chino’s hasn’t been on my radar but if there are tiki drinks to be had I will be visiting soon!

9 years ago

I’m going to go ahead and toot my own horn: My husband and I own and operate a small CSA vegetable farm. We have several pickup locations on the hill. We also sell at the Broadway farmers market on Sundays, and supply many Capitol Hill restaurants. Our share price is $20 a week for a 22 week season.

Also, the goods from Old Chaser Farm look amazing.

9 years ago

I first read about Chino’s on CHS, and it took about three weeks until the star aligned for me to pay a visit this past weekend. I would say I was intrigued, rather than confused or discouraged, when I first read about the concept. It was a simple matter to visit the website and see every snack and feature cocktail listed, and my interested was piqued further.

I appreciated the tasty offerings (new zha jiang mein fan over here) and, after reading the Crosscut piece, I appreciate what the Lees are trying to do and their candid self-assessment. I wish them luck and I plan to be back!