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Capitol Hill food+drink | First look at Ernest Loves Agnes


(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

IMG_0560Hemingway was a reporter. But string together all the true sentences you want and you still won’t have a novel. Ernest Loves Agnesnamed in tribute to the romance of young Ernest Hemingway and nurse Agnes von Kurowsky that inspired the author’s A Farewell to Arms — opens this week on 19th Ave E.

“This is a whole other level,” Joey Burgess tells CHS. “We’re stepping up.”

The guys behind Guild Seattle have been part of enough Capitol Hill food and drink projects to have the simple story down pat. With Ernest Loves Agnes, for Burgess and partners Dave Meinert, and Jason Lajuenesse, the plot thickens. They’re opening their first joint where the kind of tomatoes you use in one sauce and the kind of tomatoes you use in the other matters.

Built out of the space the Kingfish Cafe called home for 18 years, Ernest Loves Agnes has overhauled the old soul food restaurant while reclaiming as much of the original as possible. The kitchen remains to your left, the bar to your right — but the reinvented space has been opened up and reconfigured with more space for diners and classy booths for drinkers.

The old Kingfish bar and the pricy upgrades in the kitchen are planned to be put to good use. The menu and the cocktails — especially in comparison to the typical order at Big Mario’s or the Comet — are The Sun Also Rises-level ambitious. The new venue gives the Guild partners the opportunity to work with some of their longtime counterparts in new roles. Chef Mac Jarvis has stepped up to lead the kitchen at Ernest Loves Agnes. Her menu includes classic pastas like “Tagliatelle with Roasted Shoulder of Lamb and Prosciutto Ragu,” and simple entrees like “Roasted Chicken with Butternut Squash and Sage Panzanella.” Much love is given to the pizza:

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At the bar, the offerings are equally artful:

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And you can linger for desert — panna cotta, rosemary olive oil cake, gelato — plus espressos and amari.

Chef Mac Jarvis, right, and Sous Chef Tia Hawley

Chef Mac Jarvis, right, and Sous Chef Tia Hawley

Brunch, Saturdays and Sundays starting at 8 AM, features Dutch babies, Italian sausage omelettes, spicy tomato sauce with eggs, and, if you’re feeling flush, a seared New York steak for 16 bucks. There’s also a swing-out TV hidden above the bar making E Loves A the first big game-appropriate venue on 19th Ave E.

For now, Ernest Loves Agnes will be a late afternoon and evening affair. Weekday hours run 3 PM to 1 AM — 8 AM to 1 AM on weekends. A happy hour runs 4 to 6 PM, Monday to Friday.

Lunch is likely once the partners get their sea legs with Ernest’s more challenging food and drink logistics. Other elements like pizza takeout or “4-block” delivery could also be in the offing as the Guild guys sort out this new frontier for their Capitol Hill holdings where single family homes still dominate many streets and many date nights hinge on the availability of a sitter.

Rumors and speculation about what would come next rattled around 19th Ave E following the dramatic surprise ending to 18 years of the Kingfish Cafe in January to start 2015. Ernest Loves Agnes joins what has become a busy area for food and drink following the opening of the 19th and Mercer building in late 2013 and food and drink tenants Tallulah’sCone and Steiner, and cookie shop Hello Robin joining the blocks already home to Monsoon, and Vios.

Earlier this year, CHS talked with Laurie and Leslie Coaston about the old restaurant space and their decision to shift gears to a planned fleet of smaller Kingfish Cafes around the city. The sisters have continued to enjoy their time off, it seems — there’s been no announcement about the planned projects since Kingfish’s early 2015 closure.

Ernest Loves Agnes is planned to officially open Wednesday but we hear you might get lucky Tuesday night. Now, that’s romantic. You can learn more at An announcement on the opening from Guild Seattle is below.

(Capitol Hill, WA) Guild Seattle is proud to announce a new chapter with the opening of its newest establishment; Ernest Loves Agnes on the corner of 19th Ave. and Mercer in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. While executed by Guild Seattle, this project is a departure for the group. With the support of business partner and 3rd Guild Seattle member David Meinert, this project finds Jason Lajeunesse and Joey Burgess at the creative and operational helm. “We have been laboring over this one for 6 months, it’s certainly become a bit of a passion project at this point! That being said we feel confident that the space will appeal to anyone with an eye for detail and an appetite for great food“ said Lajeunesse.

The restaurant will open to the public on Wednesday, September 23rd. An Italian Kitchen, Bar and Pizzeria, Ernest Loves Agnes will serve delicious hand-made pizzas, pastas with seasonal sides and entrees accompanied by an always rotating cocktail and wine menu.

Hours of operation:
Weekdays- 3pm-1am.
Weekend Brunch- 8am to 3pm.
Weekend Dinner- 4pm-11pm, with Pizza and Bar closing at 2am.
Ernest Loves Agnes is located at 600 and 602 19th Ave. E and

The Food
Led by Chef Mac Jarvis and Sous Chef Tia Hawley- Ernest Loves Agnes‘ menu is comprised of carefully-crafted chef-driven offerings, which are seasonal and locally sourced whenever possible. “Mac and Tia bring an exciting new creative energy to our company” says Joey Burgess, of Guild Seattle.  “They are not afraid to take risks in the kitchen, but also knows when to just make simple, good food.”  Jarvis possesses nearly a decade of experience in the restaurant industry- including time in the kitchens of Smith, Coastal Kitchen, Lola and Maui’s Italian restaurant Capische. Tia has previously worked at La Spiga, Altstadt and Skillet.

“We spent a great deal of time getting the menu just right. That included regional road trips, time in New York City and a lot of trial and error at home” says Lajeunesse of Guild Seattle. “This time lead to great dinners with friends, like esteemed pizza maker Anthony Falco of Roberta’s in Brooklyn. From these dinners came extensive workshops, which lead to pizzas that range from classic to creative on our signature menu. We will offer a build your own pizza menu as well. We are firm believers in the philosophy that pizza should be fun, and you should be able to make the pie you want”  Ernest Love Agnes‘ signatures are topped with beautiful Italian cheeses, locally-sourced ingredients that range from the savory like the Kale Pie– Tuscan Kale, Mama Lils, Maitake Bits and reach as far as options like the slightly sweet Peach Pie that is topped with braised peaches and chipollini onions, seasoned ricotta and 12 year aged balsamic vinegar.  Brunch at a glance includes a Prosciutto Cotto Benedict, A Dutch Babie, a  Smoked Duck and Lentil Salad with Watercress and a poached egg, just to name a few.  To view the complete menu click here.

The Drinks
Much careful thought was put into the Ernest Loves Agnes Drink menu.  Highlights include an extensive selection of imported beers (with options from Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Yugoslavia and Poland), a diverse wine list that offers a number of Italian wines, and craft cocktails including the house favorite the Hemingway Daquiri, and Death in the Afternoon, a cocktail created by Mr. Hemingway himself.  There is also a large variety of gins, vodkas, whiskey/ryes, apertifs and digestifs.  The bar will be open during all restaurant hours.  To view the complete drink menu click here.

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • Chef Bollag as Chop shop opened in July (Image: CHS)

    Chef Bollag as Chop shop opened in July (Image: CHS)

    Chop Shop chef Joseph Bollag is out. After only 9 1/2 weeks of business, Ericka Burke is turning to a new executive chef to run her ambitious day and night Pike/Pine eatery. In a press release Monday, Burke announced the hiring of Zach Chambers to run the Chop Shop kitchen:
    To start, Chambers will be consulting with Burke and getting familiarized with the kitchen—he will jump in fully later on in the fall with the launch of the new season’s menu. The two chefs have been hard at work collaborating on new dishes—diners can expect to see some crudos and fall-inspired vegetable dishes on the menu in the coming months, plus a new rotating section of “chops.” Think family-style bone-in ribeyes, large braised shanks, veal chops, or even whole grilled fish. Perfect for sharing, these larger format proteins will come with a selection of seasonal sides. Chambers was previously the chef at Anchovies & Olives, and more recently established Atta Boy, a sandwich shop operating out of Bar Sue. Atta Boy will continue even as Chambers joins Chop Shop. He’ll divide his time between the two Capitol Hill spots and keep the already beloved Southern-inspired food going at Bar Sue.
    The announcement made no mention of Bollag, formerly of Marjorie, who tells CHS he put his heart and soul into getting Chop Shop off the ground and creating its launch menu. “That is all my food,” he tells CHS, adding that he turned to a lot of friends and connections to help get Chop Shop started. Bollag said a difference in opinion over how strong a presence he should be in the marketing and branding of Chop Shop lead to the split. “He wasn’t the right fit,” was all a representative for Burke would offer on Bollag’s exit. Bollag said he’s ready to take the early exit from Chop Shop in stride and move on. Watch for pop-ups and more from the chef in coming months. In the meantime, you can check out his @surealize account on Instagram to find out more about what’s next.

  • IMG_0083Now open: the new Kedai Makan.
  • Now serving breakfast: the new Bill’s Off Broadway.
  • Now Corretto, again: Corretto.
  • Yogurtland replacement Refresh Frozen Desserts opens this weekend.
  • E Madison’s Queen Bee has expanded to Queen Anne.
  • Updated “30+ Favorite Seattle Eateries Owned/operated By People Of Color” now includes Capitol Hill’s Plum Bistro, Marjorie.
  • Folks behind Mamnoon opening mBar in South Lake Union.
  • Next for Marcus Lalario now that Fat’s is open in the CD: Georgetown collaboration with Matt Dillon called Ciudad, according to liquor license paperwork.
  • Thursday: Capitol Hill Housing’s annual Omnivorous benefit. Tickets here.
  • Also Thursday: Country Doctor benefit Eat Out on Capitol Hill.
  • Saturday: “Rhein Haus 1st annual Oktoberfest food-feast relay race” —
    A new Oktoberfest tradition starts on September 26th with our first OktoberFEAST relay race. Four stations await teams as they eat against the clock! Beginning with the first station, each contestant will need to finish one complete dish and a 1/2 liter of Rhein Haus lager before the next teammate starts their station. After the fourth teammate finishes their dish, the teammates come together for an Underberg toast before the clock is stopped.
  • Congratulations to the Rhein Haus/Poquitos guys:

    "The fellow owners and staff of Poquitos and Rhein Haus would like to wish owners Matt & Dustin a very happy wedding day! There is no truer definition of love than the one that they share and we are all so fortunate to be a witness to it each day #lovewins" (Image: Poquitos via Facebook)

    “The fellow owners and staff of Poquitos and Rhein Haus would like to wish owners Matt & Dustin a very happy wedding day! There is no truer definition of love than the one that they share and we are all so fortunate to be a witness to it each day #lovewins” (Image: Poquitos via Facebook)

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