It is time to turn over the dirt and grow new things inside Capitol Hill’s Chophouse Row. Chef Matt Dillon’s last Capitol Hill connection has been severed. Bar Ferdinand is no more. But a new wine-focused project is already being lined up to take its place. The group of food and drink experts taking on the venture include two of the now dearly departed wine bar’s staff. They are ready for new things moving beyond hand wringing over the state of the city’s dining scene.
“As far as speaking eloquently about how Seattle is changing, that has been litigated,” chef Eli Dahlin tells CHS.
“We’re not trying to change Capitol Hill,” he said.
Instead, Dahlin, and sommelier Ezra Wicks are teaming up on a new project in the old Upper Bar Ferdinand space that will continue the Chophouse Row suite’s run of seasonal food and great wine. Dahlin says more details will come. They expect a remodel to take a few months with a possible opening of the yet to have its name finalized project in late spring.
But a key component of the new effort will swing into motion soon. The restaurant’s sibling bottle shop will open a door or two down Chophouse Row. Wine expert Will Mason is teaming up with sommeliers Salomon Navarro and Wicks on the new store that will be part of the mix with the new restaurant project.
It’s a “collaborative concept,” Mason says, with the stand alone bottle shop that also has wine available to serve next door or to enjoy on Chophouse Row’s patio. The new shop will bring “quality wine to Capitol Hill and Seattle” — and “to the country at large,” Mason says, with hopes for a busy online store.
The shop will focus on tastings and education and small production, organic, and biodynamic vineyards, Mason said.
The two components — the bottle shop and the restaurant — will sandwich another Chophouse Row resident. Newly opened ice cream shop Sweet Alchemy is now resident in the former home of Kurt Farm Shop and will soon welcome its new wine-y neighbors.
As for Dillon and Bar Ferdinand, the Chophouse tenant lasted four years. Dillon did not return CHS’s messages about his decision to close after a paper sign went up about a “mid winter break” closure in late January. He had expanded to the 11th Ave complex with a larger Ferd’nand with more food and a wood-fire oven in 2015. Last year as he was shutting down Sitka and Spruce, he told CHS he planned to keep the Chophouse wine bar open and it might end up being a growing home for his farm to table menus. But he also said, every time rent was due for the Chophouse Row venue, “you think about what’s the right move.” It turns out, it was time for Dillon to sell and move on.
For the to-be-named project and the group of food and drink entrepreneurs around it taking on what will be their largest investment yet, the right move is building something new around good wine in the middle of Capitol Hill.
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