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Capitol Hill food+drink | Little Lionhead sprouts next to Poppy

(Image: Lionhead)

(Image: Lionhead)

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 2.44.23 PMWith some of Seattle’s super chefs storming forward with concept after concept, Capitol Hill resident Jerry Traunfeld has taken a different path. His Poppy debuted on Broadway nearly seven years ago. Lionhead, the little, 47-seat, Sichuan sibling to his popular Pacific Northwest thali restaurant on the north end of Broadway, is now softly open:

Lionhead serves familiar Szechuan (aka Sichuan) dishes like ma po doufu, gung bao chicken, anddan dan mein. The James Beard–winning chef spent four years thinking about a Chinese restaurant; he’s always been a fan of the cuisine and cooks it often at home. Originally Traunfeld figured he’d do some sort of fusion; “that’s what’s expected from a chef,” he muses. But after a trip to China lead by esteemed food writer Fuschia Dunlop, he returned to Seattle seeing little reason to tinker with classic Szechuan flavor profiles.

Last December when CHS first reported on the project, Traunfeld told CHS he was happy to have the opportunity to take his passion for cooking Chinese at home to the next level — all within walking distance of his own Capitol Hill few-block radius. Traunfeld can now “literally be two places at once,” he told CHS. “It will be exciting to create a restaurant serving my take on traditional Chinese dishes, using quality ingredients and my personal approach to the flavors and cooking methods of this cuisine,” Traunfeld said.

Traunfeld told CHS Lionhead is named for a Chinese breed of fancy goldfish.

Familiar Capitol Hill face Veronika Groth is back running the bar at Poppy and at Lionhead, Traunfeld announced:

Expect the cocktails to include Chinese  spices & herbs, some with cooling properties complimenting the bold flavors of Sichaun. Cocktail styles will vary, some using ‘medicinal ‘ ingredients, others fruit forward. Look forward to Rum, red shiso, lychee, five-spice, lime & aromatic bitters. (Hey!  Anyone want to name the drink?  Send us your idea)!)  One drink we are also nailing down is Suan Mei Tan; a delicious, non-alcoholic treat made with preserved plum!

The opening also represents another opportunity to see Capitol Hill’s food+drink economy transitioning to address the city’s new minimum wage. We saw one $15/hour-friendly pizza chain replace another on one end of Broadway. At Lionhead on the other end of Broadway, Seattle Met reports the veteran Traunfeld is running the new restaurant with no tips — and no service charge:

The cost of wages is built into the pricing. As the message displayed on the menu puts it: Our menu pricing allows us to pay an equitable wage to all our employees. You pay only what you see (plus tax).

After downsizing last fall following an anti-$15 minimum wage ruckus of its own, The Confectional left the space now home to Lionhead to focus its mini-cheesecake business in Pike Place Market. Mallet built out the former cafe and bakery to round out the space into a Poppy-worthy companion and make space for some hardcore commercial woks. It joins 2014-born Zhu Dang and 2010-born Chungee’s among the Hill’s dedicated Chinese eateries.

Lionhead is located at 618 Broadway E one door south of Poppy. The restaurant is still in soft opening mode. Traunfeld’s plans for making takeout part of the offering are coming soon. In the meantime, keep an eye on for updates.

UPDATE: Lionhead’s menu has been posted. Here’s a look at the price range that accompanies Traunfeld’s “no tips, no service charge” model for accomodating Seattle’s rising minimum wage:

"Last customer, Vanessa, eating last hot dog ;(" (Image: Cyber Dogs via Facebook)

“Last customer, Vanessa, eating last hot dog ;(” (Image: Cyber Dogs via Facebook)

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • Off Hill but we’re remiss in not saying goodbye to Cyber Dogs, Seattle’s last internet hot dog cafe. The vegetarian friendly hot dog shop on Pike in the midst of the Convention Center canyon was a Y2K Seattle holdover worth holding over. Congratulations to owner Tania Harrison on her retirement from the wiener business after more than 13 years of Cyber Dog action.
  • We’ve called the restaurant space at the corner of 10th and Miller one of the most challenging on the Hill for maintaining a food+drink business. But the space behind it on Miller should probably hold the title. Word comes that a new venture is stepping forward to replace the Thai joint that recently folded back there. Welcome Salee Thai. Good luck! meanwhile, the space out front remains empty.
  • 11222415_853553308057364_8648915282914309472_nFat’s Chicken and Waffles, the soul food joint from 95 Slide’s Marcus Lalario opening in the former home of the Catfish Corner at MLK and Cherry, is headed to a late August/early September opening, CHS hears.
  • Ezell’snow serving in the UAE.
  • The space home to legendary Broadway diner Charlie’s has a new tenant. But we don’t know who is behind the new venture… yet.
  • Hey independent Seattle food+drink entrepreneur, hope you’re enjoying the boom times. Here is what the chain restaurant industry is doing with its newfound wealth according to Full-Service Restaurants magazine:
    Data compiled by the National Restaurant Association found 59 percent of the nation’s restaurant operators spent money on equipment, expansion, or remodeling during the three months ending in February, and 62 percent expect to do so before autumn.
  • The Stranger marks five years on Capitol Hill with Marjorie and owner Donna Moodie: “A chef’s run here is like a show. I like to encourage creativity and let chefs play with what we have, and then expand on it or add their own style that may linger for a while after they’ve gone.”
  • Yikes. Seattle Times still gives star ratings out! Also yikes! It handed one down to the overhauled Sorrento restaurant The Dunbar Room.
  • Now available inside Bar Sue: “Pork Belly Porchetta, Fried Chicken, and/or Fried Green Tomato” Atta Boy Sandwiches by Zach Chambers. Eater calls the set-up “permanent” — we wish these kind of arrangements could last longer after so many fade after a few weeks. For now, enjoy it.
  • Good news for Pelmeni Dumpling Tzar, the delayed third component of the 12th Ave Arts food+drink offerings:

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One thought on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Little Lionhead sprouts next to Poppy

  1. It’s getting very interesting how different restaurant owners are responding to the minimum wage legislation. A few have instituted a service charge in lieu of tips, and now Jerry Traunfeld at Lionhead has a “no service charge, no tips” policy….sounds good to me, but I wonder if the menu prices (at a level which pays for the increased wages) will be a little shocking to some people……hope not, as I wish Jerry all the best with his new venture!