Tag

Restaurant Spotlight

Browsing
Photo courtesy mamnoonrestaurant.com
Photo courtesy mamnoonrestaurant.com

By now you’ve probably heard that beloved and acclaimed Middle Eastern eatery Mamnoon will be opening a new venture called ‘mBar’ in SLU, but it seems as though that’s not enough to keep Mamnoon’s owners busy this year.

In addition to the Mediterranean inspired rooftop spot (sure to be glorious with it’s 100-seat, glass railed patio, so as to protect and enhance your mealtime view), and the recently announced ‘Mamnoon Street’, it looks like the Mamnoon team will be opening yet another spot next door at Amazon’s new 6th Ave Doppler campus.

The newest addition to the Mamnoon line up will be called ‘Anar’ meaning pomegranate in Farsi, and will focus mainly on the “ancient traditions of juice and vegetarian dishes.”

From the proprietors:

    Anar will  be an ideal destination to get energized for the day, starting with a breakfast yogurt blend, Persian mint tea, or a specially blended kombucha.  Juices will range from sweet to savory to hearty, and will include such ingredients as orange blossom, rose water and pomegranate with available additions like yogurt, cashews and chickpeas.  Food options include small plates; a mezze dish with dolma, pickled and raw vegetables, arugula and gluten free crackers with a choice of Carrot bi tahini, muhammara, or ‘Persian’ green hummus, and big plates; Fatteh with cauliflower, garbanzo, gluten-free crackers and mint cucumber salad.  For a late afternoon pick-me-up, Anar will feature desserts, snacks and ‘mocktails’, such as muddled cucumber, cilantro, mint and soda. Items from Anar will be available for take-away or to enjoy in its warm, open, colorful space.  With seating for 18, Anar will be ideal for an intimate meeting or to settle into a cozy space to work with a delicious beverage and great music.

Anar will be opening later this month at 2040 6th Avenue with business hours of Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Thai cuisine is now a popular dining option across the Seattle area… I would even venture to say that there are nearly as many Thai restaurants as there are Starbucks locations. But one of the very first of these (if not the first – it’s always hard to say for certain) was Siam Thai Cuisine. Chai Asavadejkajorn was one of the original owners of the first Siam Thai Cuisine, which opened in Capitol Hill on Broadway in 1986.

The Capitol Hill location closed – to much sadness throughout the neighborhood – in May 2009, but Siam Thai was already flourishing in Lake Union and also in Bothell.

This month for our Lake Union restaurant spotlight, we’re featuring Siam Thai Cuisine in our neighborhood!

The Lake Union location opened in October 2010. “We offer authentic Thai food that is higher-end,” says owner Chai Asavadejkajorn. “We want to be modern with a similar feel at our restaurants … [This restaurant] is modern, open, and we have created a fun place to eat.”

That sentiment is echoed to the menus at both the Lake Union restaurant and the Bothell location, where most of the menu items are consistent at both restaurants. Actually, most of the menu items are from the original Siam Thai Cuisine menu – although the menu is getting a makeover for the summer. Asavadejkajorn expects to be releasing that in the next few weeks or so.

One of the favorites at Siam is the Jungle Chicken, with fried, crispy chicken that is stir-fried with pineapple, bell peppers and basil in a tangy garlic-chili sauce. Not surprisingly for a Thai restaurant, Panang Curry is also on the list of popular entrées. “We have the best Panang Curry in the city,” Asavadejkajorn says. “And people used to say we have the best peanut sauce, but now there are too many.”

Siam’s Soy Ginger Salmon, Shu-Chee Catfish or Salmon, and Scallop Prik Paow (sautéed chili scallops) are other favorites.

For Asavadejkajorn, keeping the atmosphere welcoming and the prices affordable is very important. “The treatment of the neighbors here is very important. If people can afford to come out, it keeps the business going,” he said.

Siam has a constantly rotating wine list, with about 40-50 bottles on it at any given time. There are six beers available on tap, and a featured cocktail list that changes every six months or so, in addition to a full service bar.

Dinner is available all day, however a lunch menu is also served during the weekdays to offer smaller portions and lower prices. Siam Thai kitchen hours are 11:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 11:30 p.m. on Friday, and from 3 – 11:30 p.m. on Saturday and 3 – 10 p.m.

Happy Hour at Siam offers about a dozen small entrées for $5-7 each, martinis for $7, $3.50 draft beers, $3 bottled beers, and $4.50 house wines by the glass. Happy Hour is daily from 3 – 6 p.m. and from 9 p.m. until close, and all day on Monday.

 

Set along Eastlake Avenue, Sushi Kappo Tamura is the place to enjoy delicious sushi in a casual, Lake Union restaurant environment. Steve Takamura and Taichi Kitamura opened the place in July of 2010.

“We use local ingredients with Japanese style,” says Taichi. “And we source local ingredients as much as we can … we like to buy directly from the farmer and fisherman.” What’s more, they have their own rooftop garden, where the vegetables and herbs used in their dishes are grown.

In addition to sushi classics including salmon, tuna, eel, prawns, and more, the Lake Union restaurant offers delectable oysters and even geoduck. Sushi makes up most of what they offer at the restaurant, although there are several cooked options as well. Their Miso soup and the pork cutlet are two favorites from the cooked side of the menu, as is their Black Cod Filet and the whole Red Snapper.

Oysters on the half shell have been a longtime highlight at Sushi Kappo Tamura. They are also known for their Mustard Greens with Washington Albacore tuna dressed in a delicious almond wasabi sauce. The restaurant’s sushi rolls are updated seasonally, with some long-standing classics as well.

“Our specialty is in Omakase, which features the best of what we have that day,” says Taichi. The meal is $100 per person for seven courses. A sample menu on the website includes oysters, Sushi Kappo Tamura’s signature albacore and mustard greens salad, a mushroom and Alaskan idiot fish dobin mushi, Chef’s choice sashimi and nigiri, flat iron steak, King salmon, and a chestnut butterscotch crème brulée to finish.

With everything at Sushi Kappo Tamura, “our guests can expect good quality at a reasonable price,” Kitamura said. “We want them to spend time, and enjoy good food.” He likes to focus on seasonal and local Pacific Northwest ingredients, while sticking to the authentic Japanese preparation. “It emphasizes the flavors best,” Kitamura says.

Dinner is offered seven days per week at Sushi Kappo Tamura. They also offer their version of brunch between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The brunch special includes seven pieces of sushi with sides like the restaurant’s signature soups and rice.

The restaurant has a full bar, as well as wines and beers available to enjoy alongside your meal. Sushi Kappo Tamura has an extensive sake list, with over 50 selections. There are ten wines available by-the-glass, a couple of draft beer options, and a few more by the bottle. Additionally, the restaurant offers a seasonally-changing cocktail list.

Sushi Kappo Tamura is open daily for dinner from 5 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and till 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Chandler’s Crabhouse celebrated its 25th anniversary as a Lake Union restaurant in Chandler’s Cove late this last year. It’s one of the Schwartz Brothers Restaurants (started in 1973).

“Our original concept was to offer a market of East Coast and Seattle seafood, but that evolved to a West Coast focus after we discovered that’s what our customers wanted,” says General Manager Robert Onstad.

Since their earlier days, the staff and management at Chandler’s Crabhouse has endeavored to source responsibly and sustainably with as much of its seafood and other ingredients as possible. The problem? They haven’t been talking about it!

Chandler’s Crabhouse is making an extra effort to not only spread the word about their longtime best practices in sourcing their ingredients; they are also going the extra mile. Most recently, the restaurant has been going through the arduous process of becoming certified through Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Eco-Certification & Seafood Watch program.

“We try to buy everything as local as we can,” Robert says. “If it’s not local, we’re making sure it’s sustainably sourced … Of course, we’re at the mercy and honesty of the people growing and harvesting the food, and it takes effort and research but it’s worth it.”

Additionally, Chandler’s has partnered with Seattle Central Community College’s culinary department to find more ways to source sustainable ingredients.

“We’re going to do everything we can to participate in how people make their buying decisions, to help meet their needs and what they want to see,” Onstad said. “People want to know where their food comes from … We don’t do it because it’s trendy, we do it because it’s what you’re supposed to do.”

The menu at Chandler’s changes seasonally, of course. They are famous for their Dungeness Crab (which is also a sustainable product at the Lake Union restaurant) from the Strait of Juan de Fuca. “We buy more than any other restaurant in the city,” Robert says. They also have several varieties of fresh oysters available throughout the year. Another favorite, and signature dish at Chandler’s Crabhouse is the Whisky Crab Soup. Their chowder is made Northwest-style, with both surf and razor clams. The Crab Rockefeller, made with Dungeness crab legs, creamed spinach, bacon and hollandaise sauce is a popular item as well.

While Chandler’s prides itself on it’s classic menu (for both seafood and items sourced from the land), they are going to be introducing more unique items in the near future.

For six years running, Chandler’s has received a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for their wine list, which is heavy on the Northwest side. Their wines are largely from small production wineries, and the restaurant actually has a winemaker on staff whose wine they sell in-house. “We’re really committed to local,” Robert says. Chandler’s has over 200 bottles on their list, with around 30 white, red and sparkling options by-the-glass.

On the beer side of things, they have eight or nine rotating draft beers, continuing their commitment to local brands as well as a few national favorites. The cocktail menu changes seasonally, for a fresh new specialty in spirits to enjoy, alongside the Lake Union restaurant’s full bar. There are also a couple of ciders available for those inclined (or those looking for a gluten-free option).

“We have menu items that are gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian,” Onstad said. “We want our customers to see that we understand those needs and take them seriously.”

Chandler’s Crabhouse is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m., and for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 4 – 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 4 – 10 p.m. Happy Hour is seven nights a week (in the lounge only) from 3 p.m. until close, with wines by the glass and appetizer specials and $1 off draft and bottled beers. There is also a weekend brunch from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday and from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Featured photo of Chandler’s Raw Bar display, courtesy Chandler’s Crabhouse.

In an old house that was previously used by the University of Washington for their fishery sciences, now resides the iconic summer (and year-round) dining and recreational destination, Agua Verde Café and Paddle Club. The Lake Union restaurant Agua Verde Café was opened in 1998, just after its neighboring paddle club.

It’s cafeteria-style dining of Mexican-inspired dishes during the day (pay at the counter, and sit where you like), and turns more traditional restaurant-style at night. During the summer, Agua Verde serves lunch and dinner seven days a week, but they are closed Sundays during the winter.

An outside espresso window offers great coffee and espresso, freshly-made breakfast burritos, and house-made pastries during weekday and weekend mornings.

According to Agua Verde’s website, “We offer fun & casual waterfront dining, serving a mix of original & traditional Mexican fare, but by God it’s Authentic! Our menu is prepared fresh, from scratch daily, incorporating organic, local & sustainable sources. We work closely with local farms & organizations.”

“It’s our ‘Loco for Local’ program, with a focus on local, organic ingredients,” says manager Katie Markert. “We’re really transparent about our ingredients.”

In addition to a purposeful use of local ingredients, the Lake Union restaurant offers selections for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diners.

While specials change daily, signature dishes at Agua Verde are the Tacos de la Casa, specifically the Bacaloa: fried Alaskan cod with coconut beer tempura, shredded cabbage, and creamy avocado sauce. The Bacalao was so loved in taco form that chefs added rice and pinto beans and made it a burrito option as well!

Another kitchen feature is the Mangodilla; a traditional flour tortilla with jack cheese, mango, poblano chiles and scallions. There are daily specials every day of the week, to keep things interesting – and delicious! Head to the salsa bar for your selection from three house-made salsas served in gigantic bowls on a bicycle wheel cart.

The Prickly Pear Margarita is a must-have from the drink menu. All of their juices are made in-house for ultimate freshness.

While Happy Hour is only Monday through Thursday during the summer, it transfers to daily from 4 – 6 p.m. during the winter. The Happy Hour menu includes discounts on beer, wine, and tequila shots, as well as two house margaritas and $4-$6 food.

Agua Verde Café is open Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for lunch, and from 4 – 9 p.m. for dinner.

Neighbors, professionals, visitors and more can enjoy “scratch-made baked goods, lunch, soup and breakfast all day” at Nollie’s Café – a Lake Union restaurant and café. The breakfast and lunch hotspot is a favorite in the neighborhood for delectable baked goods and savory breakfast and lunch dishes.

Nollie’s Café opened in 2009, but owner Dan Munro has spent his life “in, on or around this building for 40 years,” he says. His family has owned businesses and/or been the landlords of the building on Harrison Street in Lake Union for decades.

“We specialize in excellent breakfast and lunch with high quality ingredients,” Munro says. “We have the best Eggs Benedict in Lake Union (and the cheapest)!”

With five Eggs Benedict options (available weekends only), delicious build-your-own breakfast sandwiches and classic and unique items to satisfy your morning cravings, Nollie’s is a fantastic breakfast stop in Lake Union.

“I like to think of it as food for ‘other people’ – food for the rest of us,” says owner Dan Munro. “To me, food is about memory. We try to bring those memorable flavors in, and make them addictive … My goal is to find legally addictive substances (food) for our customers.”

A big part of what Nollie’s Café brings the neighborhood is delicious, high-quality food and ingredients at an affordable price. All of the baked goods are made fresh in-house. According to Munro, “We have the best pie in Seattle,” thanks to Baker Karen Smith, who has been in the baking industry since the ‘70s, and it shows in her pies.

Munro himself is very involved in the kitchen – he’s perfected Nollie’s Double Dark Chocolate Chip cookie over the past 20 years to be the addictive, incredibly delicious treat that it is today.

One of their most popular lunch items is the Buffalo Gal sandwich. It’s made with chicken breasts marinated in Nollie’s jerk sauce, then baked and served on sourdough bread with Frank’s hot wing sauce and pepper jack cheese. Another lunch favorite is the Bib Mama – sourdough bread, Swiss cheese, Tillamook cheddar, Provolone, hand-sliced Korobuta ham, house-roasted turkey breast, and thick strips of bacon. That’s one cheesy, meaty sando!

Nollie’s roasts all of their turkey, beef, and chicken in house and the Yup’ik Yukon Indian Tribe in Alaska catches the salmon served at the café.

Nollie’s Café is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and weekend days from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The café can also provide catering and hosting for your own events, celebrations, and parties – both in and out of house. Check out the catering menu and regular café menu on their website.

Enjoy delicious, locally sourced food in a Lake Union bistro with historic beginnings. Row House Café opened three years ago in its South Lake Union location on Republican Street. The bistro is housed in what was originally work housing for the ship builders who worked on the docks of Lake Union back in the early 1900s. The three cottages as they were back then were abandoned and fell into disrepair before Row House moved in.

The café’s owner, Erin Maher, designed the space with its history in mind. “It was a great location to open a bistro that’s a nod to the past … Everything was sustainable – there’s hardly anything new in the design,” she said.

The Lake Union restaurant Row House Café has made-from-scratch comfort food in an urban retreat, as Erin says, and it truly feels that way from the second you walk in the door. Worn wood floors and mismatched antiques, colorful art and a fresh breeze – the space just feels a little bit like a vacation bungalow, even though it’s right smack in the middle of one of Seattle’s busiest up-and-coming neighborhoods.

Since it was remodeled from three originally separate cottages, there are patios, porches, nooks and crannies all over the space for a unique, intimate mood.

There’s something new and fresh on the menu every day, although the main menu is changed seasonally. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served on weekdays at Row House, with weekday happy hour and a weekend brunch to boot!

Chef Cynthia Rosen brings a lot of unique flavor profiles to the menu, with hints from her time in the South and in Tel Aviv, as well as influences from owner Erin Maher’s time spent living in Italy. “I’ve lived in Italy too, as well as Israel. I love the Mediterranean and also Southern and Asian foods. It’s kind of like a trip around the world in food here,” Rosen said. “You could come every day and find something different.”

“Good food starts with excellent ingredients, so we source local and I think it makes a huge difference,” Maher says.

The Café features home-baked desserts and pastries made fresh and hand crafted every morning. They do all of their baked goods in-house, and they’re famous for their cakes – which you can order for your own event or gathering at home.

For lunch there are delicious homemade soups, fresh tossed salads, and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches that are inspired from tastes and flavors around the world. Starting at 4 p.m. on weeknights, Row House has tasty flatbreads, veggies, pastas and other features to satisfy your cravings.

Dipping sauces, salad dressings, and soups are made from scratch in the restaurant. “Fresh is best,” says Chef Cynthia Rosen. “I let the [sauces and soups] speak for themselves. I like to think I’m taking home cooking to a whole new level.”

“We’re not out to win awards, we’re out to provide the neighborhood with healthy, epicurean inspired food … We’re a neighborhood place without being pretentious – a place to be comfortable,” Maher said. “We also supply food for all of the different dietary restrictions people have – we’re vegetarian-, vegan-, and gluten-free-friendly.” (There’s even gluten-free pasta on the menu.)

In addition to food, Row House has a great Old World wine list, with wines by the glass, bottle, and even on tap from Piccola Wine Company. There are several imported and domestic beers available as well, and three rotating craft beers on tap. One of the Café’s specialties is their craft cocktails and wine cocktails, which change with the season. They also do their own infused spirits and liquors.

They serve Illy Coffee, which Erin says appeals to the culturally diverse residents and workers in the neighborhood – plus it’s one of the most delicious coffees she’s ever tasted.

If you’re in love with Row House food, beverages, and staff, the Café does offer onsite and off-site catering. Not only is it a fabulous place to come for business meetings and intimate gatherings, but they’ll bring the food to you for your event elsewhere.

Row House Café is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for brunch on Saturday and Sunday during the summer. Happy Hour is 4 – 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, with $2 off the Supper Menu items and $1 off beers (bottles and drafts) and wines (by the glass and on tap).

Serafina Osteria & Enoteca has been a staple Italian eatery in the Lake Union – specifically Eastlake – neighborhood for nearly 25 years now. The owner, Susan Kaufman, opened the Lake Union restaurant just over 23 years ago in 1991.

“We serve rustic Italian food with a regional focus,” says General Manager Rachel Aiken. “With our daily specials, we try to match Italian tradition with regional produce, and mirror what’s going on in Italy here.”

The menu changes once each season to take advantage of everything that’s fresh and available. But a Serafina signature dish is the “Melanzane alla Serafina”: thinly sliced eggplant rolled with ricotta cheese, fresh basil and parmesan, then baked in a tomato sauce and served over cappellini aglio e olio. Mussels are also always on Serafina’s menu, and their calamari is a bit unique because it’s not breaded or fried like you normally find.

“It’s a balance of the comforting, traditional items and those things that are fresh, new and seasonal,” Aiken said.

All of the restaurants’ pastas are made in-house, and are handmade. “One of our sous chefs is all about pasta, and right now all pasta is cooked to order,” she said.

“Service is what makes us special. Our servers go above and beyond,” says owner Susan Kaufman. “There are many things you get out of restaurants when you dine, but one is most important: to feel taken care of.”

They have a fantastic loyal customer base too. “We have those people who come back time and time again, Rachel Aiken said.

That commitment to service is exemplified in Serafina/Cicchetti’s ‘Consiglio’. Inspired by “The Godfather” and designed to ensure the restaurant makes the best decisions, the Consiglio is Kaufman’s way to lead the way for many more years of Serafina. The group is made up of 14 people and includes individuals of all ages, careers, and backgrounds. They meet once per month to discuss future plans, goals, and changes, and then they email throughout the month to make sure things happen.

Serafina has an affordable, but well-chosen wine list. The restaurant also makes unique house-infused spirits such as quince-infused brandy, cinnamon tequila, lime pastis, and honey-vanilla bourbon. The infusions make great seasonal cocktails, particularly when made with some of Serafina’s Italian-sourced liqueurs.

Cicchetti and Serafina’s staff hold wine, cocktail, and cooking classes almost on a monthly basis, in addition to the occasional wine dinner. Another fun cocktail program the restaurants have going is their ‘Cocktail Masters’. Customers keep little booklets at the restaurant with different spaces to record your notes as you try various cocktails. Once you pass certain levels, you receive prizes such as a jar of Marasca cherries from Italy, a top-secret cocktail recipe book and starter kit, or chance to create your own signature cocktail!

Cicchetti was opened three years ago as Serafina’s catering-centric branch. It was a solution “for those who always wanted a bigger bar, or a private dining room, or a more casual way to enjoy the warmth and vitality of Serafina,” according to the restaurant’s website.

The space is often used for the classes offered through the restaurant, as well as for private event rentals (only a food and beverage minimum is required). When it opened, Kaufman purchased a gorgeous glass chandelier made in Venice for Cicchetti’s entrance space. It arrived in thousands of pieces that needed assembly – a job completed by one of Seattle glass artist Dale Chihuly’s apprentices.

It may be an extension of Serafina’s notable prestige, but Cicchetti also boasts its own unique flavor. All of the spice mixes used in the menu items are made in-house – you can purchase three of the mixes for $12 if you want to cook with Cicchetti flavors at home.

Another unique (and mouth-watering) feature is that everything in the restaurant is roasted or cooked in Cicchetti’s wood-fired oven. Some of Cicchetti’s most popular menu items are their house-made falafel and their Lamb Kefta.

Serafina is serving full dinner daily from 5 – 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Lunch is served on weekdays only from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and happy hour is also on weekdays, from 4 – 6 p.m. Late night happy hour is Sunday through Thursday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Call 206-323-0807 for reservations.

Cicchetti is open for dinner only from 5 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The bar is open an hour longer than the kitchen. Happy Hour is Tuesday through Friday from 5 – 6:30 p.m. Call 206-859-4155 for reservations or private event and catering information.

 

Flying Fish Restaurant in South Lake Union moved to the neighborhood three years ago. They had been in Belltown for 15 years, but moved here when their lease was up.

Back when owner and Executive Chef Christine Keff opened the place, “It was an original concept. There were not a lot of fine dining seafood restaurants in the area. I saw an opportunity and a niche – now everyone else is in my niche,” she said.

The restaurant took off immediately in Belltown, so much so that they were growing further back into their building to fit more tables. When the move to Lake Union came, it was a perfect opportunity to expand.

“I wanted to keep the feel of the old place, but more contemporary,” Keff said. The atmosphere fits well in the neighborhood for the Lake Union restaurant. Flying Fish is a great spot for the local businesses and tech companies – an ideal stop for lunch with colleagues, clients, or just you! For dinner, the place becomes a destination because of its award-winning caliber and reputation.

As you would guess regarding the menu, it’s very seafood centric. “We are a seafood house, but we always have steak and chicken in case guests bring someone who doesn’t like seafood,” Christine says. That diversity and versatility is a theme that extends to the atmosphere as well. “This is a place that’s attractive to a wide range of people. Younger people bring their parents here … It’s more accessible. We have dishes that appeal to the less-adventurous clientele.”

Flying Fish has 15 species of finfish and shellfish every day, and their platters are really popular. Since the platters are interesting and great for sharing, Keff says “It’s like ‘icebreaker food’.” The food is typically lighter, since the restaurant doesn’t use as much cream and butter. The taste is influenced by flavors from Asia and the Mediterranean, since those pair well with fish.

The Lake Union restaurant has notoriety for their delicious entrée-sized Dungeness crab cakes, and their Buttermilk Fried Chicken, which is made-to-order. They tried to take that dish off the menu when they moved from Belltown. “But when Mayor Rice came in just for that, we had to run over to Whole Foods to get the ingredients,” Keff says. So the chicken stayed. Another menu favorite is the Fried Oyster Caesar Salad.

Due to the availability of fish and seafood, the menu is constantly changing. Seasonal produce also plays a part in the offering of menu items at Flying Fish, but there’s not too heavy a focus on local ingredients. “I’m not a locavore,” Christine admits.

With about 200 wines on the list (including a lot of red, which might be surprising to pair with seafood), There’s always the perfect wine pairing with what you’re eating at Flying Fish. According to Keff, many of the wines were chosen to compliment specific food items on their menu.

The restaurant highlights the wines on their list – including vintages from several local wineries – with special wine dinners on occasion, called “Dinners with Chris”. They focus on a particular region and pair foods that go well with them. Christine also holds 2.5 hour cooking classes for $55/person (includes lunch). Check out Flying Fish’s events page for upcoming classes and dinners.

If you have your own private event coming up, Flying Fish has a great space for your special occasion. Behind the bar, there’s a private room that can be rented for special events and parties. There’s no rental charge – only a food and beverage minimum!

Flying Fish is open Monday through Friday for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and opens daily at 5 p.m. for dinner. Happy Hour is every day from 4 – 6 p.m., with half-priced small plates. From October 15th to April 15th, the restaurant includes oysters for 50 cents each during happy hour.

It’s a bit newer to the neighborhood; having opened in September last year, but Cal’s at South Lake Union is one of many newcomers to the area. That’s not to say that its owner, Jeff Chandler, is new to the business.

Chandler grew up in the business, since his father was a tavern/bar owner, and has been in it for 20 years. He went to school for something else, and eventually got a regular day job while working at a bar and restaurant for his night job. “Eventually I realized that I loved my night job much more than my day job!” he said.

After growing another business with his dad, Chandler began formulating the concept for his own restaurant, Cal’s. “It was an idea harkening back to the local neighborhood tavern that is family friendly, has good food … It’s a hybrid between your favorite tavern and your favorite restaurant. It’s approachable,” he says.

He started with the design of old English pubs with leather and rich wood, and then worked on modernizing that look with glass and steel, as well as adding lots of reclaimed wood. “Nothing is contrived. They are all natural elements, creating a look where function and form meet – they are equally as attractive as they are useful,” Chandler said.

Jeff opened Cal’s first in Kent in September 2011. The opening of their second location as a South Lake Union restaurant in 2012 brought a new focus.

“We are always working to adapt to our environment and the different neighborhoods. We listen to our guests and are sensitive to deliver on what they want,” Chandler said. “[In Lake Union] we try to cater more to the lunch crowd. But we’re always asking, ‘What’s our draw?’ ‘Where do we fit in?’ … People in Lake Union are more adventurous than the guests in Kent (more meat and potatoes), so we play around with specials more here.”

Although the menus at the two locations share a common backbone, they serve different clientele. “We make simple American food that is done extraordinarily well. To keep with the quality, we have a small menu that we know we can execute on,” Jeff said.

In addition to quality, Cal’s Lake Union restaurant also has a focus on fresh and local products. “Our local purveyors and partners are very important to us … Everything is fresh and local,” Chandler says. “Good food doesn’t have to be intimidating or expensive.”

Cal’s in Lake Union has some fantastic lunch menu items, including tasty appetizers such as Deviled Eggs or their Butcher’s Board – beef tongue, pastrami, liverwurst, beef jerky and some pickled greens. For your main lunch dish, there are several salads and soups as well as classics and more unique items – The Cal’s Burger and Fish & Chips, or a Veggie Sandwich and Chicken Pot Pie.

Go a bit more adventurous for dinner, with oysters or beef tartare for a starter, and liver & onions or shrimp & grits for your entrée.

Food isn’t the only thing Cal’s does well. Happy Hour is daily from 3 – 6 p.m., and Sunday through Thursday from 9 p.m. ‘til closing in the bar only. They sell bottles of wine for half-price, $2 off house cocktails, and $5 draft beers. They have an evolving happy hour menu, too, with more snackable, shareable food.

Cal’s is also available for event rentals – they’ll work with you on your menu and don’t charge any room rental fees (just a food/beverage minimum).

“We’re continuing to evolve to fit the South Lake Union neighborhood for both lunch and dinner crowds,” Jeff said. “Comments from our guests are always welcome, and we appreciate the feedback. For instance, we heard lately that we need more light, small plates on the menu.”

Cal’s in South Lake Union will have a new menu rolling out May 10th, so look for it!

Visit Cal’s any day of the week for lunch, dinner, drinks, or all of the above! They’re open daily from 11 a.m. ‘til midnight.