News Blog for Seattle's Wallingford Neighborhood


Malaysian restaurant Satay opens today

November 14th, 2010 by master

Today the white paper will come off the windows at 1711 N. 45th St., and Satay will open its doors to diners hungry to try Malaysian street food.

We stopped by yesterday to see how the restaurant has come together since we first talked with proprietors Peter Ringold and Patrick McCredie in September.

The colorful space, which features salvaged, naturally weathered corrugated metal wainscoting and photos of Malaysian street food scenes, is more casual that when Avila was in the space.

Diners will order at the register from a menu board hung from the ceiling. They’ll be called up to get their food.

Chef Travis Jennings is new to Malaysian cuisine, but he attended culinary school and is familiar with Asian cooking techniques and ingredients. He’ll replicate recipes that Ringold’s Malay aunt supplied to the restaurant. She tasted all the dishes from the small menu and gave them her approval: “You guys actually did it,” she said.

Satay is truly a family affair: Ringold’s cousin, a clothing designer, helped with the restaurant’s aesthetic. “We were going for a rustic chic look,” McCredie said.

The wood that frames the menu board was salvaged from a vintage Wallingford deck.

Satay will be open Monday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

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Maria Hines talks "Iron Chef," future plans

August 6th, 2010 by master

We chatted with Tilth chef-owner Maria Hines earlier this week, days after she beat Chef Masaharu Morimoto on “Iron Chef America” and the day after she re-created that dinner in her restaurant. Readers hoping for behind-the-scenes tidbits will be disappointed — Hines couldn’t say a peep about production (not that we didn’t try!).

Not all chefs are so tight-lipped, though, and the “secrets” of “Iron Chef America” are easily found online. The highlights: The challenger chooses an Iron Chef to battle; they learn three ingredients in advance that could be the “secret” ingredient; and they have weeks to train for the competition in their own restaurants.

How did the producers get in touch with you?
I don’t know. I’ll assume that it was because of the James Beard Award. A lot of times when chefs get called for things it’s because of an award.

Tilth hosted Chef’s Table the night the show aired. Was that by design?
We didn’t know it was going to air on that day. We filmed it a while ago, and they don’t tell you very far in advance when it will air. We were planning on doing a viewing party, so that destroyed that, but was able to leave in time to see the show.

Did you consider having a viewing party at the end of Chef’s Table?
We have a theme that’s a commitment and it wouldn’t follow suit with Seattle Chefs Table, to focus on one chef.

Last night was the “Iron Chef” dinner at the restaurant. Did you change anything from the dishes on the show?
We turned the brandade into an hors d’oeuvre that was just smaller, but otherwise it was exactly what we did for the competition. We might add one of the dishes to the menu.

As of late last week there were still spots available for that dinner. Did that change after the show aired?
We ended up filling up. It was hard for people to commit to coming before the show because they don’t know what they’re getting.

Had you worked with Pacific cod before the show?
There are lots of different Pacific cods. The one that we had, I’d never used before. A fish is a fish, but to a certain degree you break them down differently.

Are you interested in doing more TV?
I’m fully open to it, if it fits the brand of Tilth, and if it’s something that suits us. I had a blast. It was stressful and hard, but if something comes easy is it gratifying? It seems like it’s fun after it’s done. like running a marathon: “Wow, that was actually kind of cool.” You have a feeling of accomplishment, you have a payoff. It helps you move through life in a different way. Then when you come across other challenges or obstacles, you have a little more trust in yourself. It’s kind of cool.

You seem really at ease in front of the camera.
The camera doesn’t bother me. You don’t know untill you’re in front of the camera. On the other side of that lens, there are people watching, so I think about it as people. It feels like a two-way mirror. I thought I would hate doing TV. I don’t have cable; I hadn’t even seen “Iron Chef” before I got the call to do it.

You could tell that your team — with chef de cuisine Larkin Young and sous chef Jason Brzozowy — was really tight on the show.
Larkin and Jason (we call him Mason — you can hear that on the show) are really strong cooks with great palates. I couldn’t ask to have two better people with me.

How have these TV appearances affected your business?
It’s been great, and it has an impact on our local economy. When tourists come they come to Wallingford, they bring more traffic to this part of Seattle. It’s turned into a destination restaurant because of Martha Stewart, James Beard. They find their way to us. I did set out to create a destination restaurant, but I wanted to be in the neighborhood. I like the trees and the beautiful houses.

How had business been before the TV appearances, with the economy, etc.?
Last year was really shitty — sorry, I should say bad! This year it’s definitely picked up. We’ve been fortunate with the Martha Stewart thing, which was in February and helped out during what’s usually a slow month. Then Seattle Restaurant week gave us a strong April. Then “Top Chef” helped in May. We’ve been riding on a lot of good timing.

Do you have expansion plans for Tilth?
I don’t have expansion plans. I’m just going to try to keep my head above water. We’re generating more business now with all the hype. When you have people coming because of the outcome on “Iron Chef,” expectations are really high. I want to give every guest who walks into the restaurant a dynamite experience. I don’t want to do things that would pull me too far away from Tilth. I’m too attached to being here and my staff. It’s very family oriented here. If I opened another restaurant, I worry that feeling wouldn’t be there. I’d have to wear more hats than I do. Never say never, though. Someone might give me a pile of money to open another restaurant!

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Avila shuts down

July 28th, 2010 by master

Update: Nancy Leson at our news partner the Seattle Times has details from Avila co-owner Bronwen Carpenter on the closure plus reactions in a story posted today:

“It was an agonizing decision to close,” said co-owner Bronwen Carpenter in an e-mail, “but after weighing several factors we decided it was for the best.” Despite the positive response to Avila, “the day-to-day business just wasn’t there.” With her husband, Jared, and his co-chef Alex Pitts, “we started with big dreams and and a shoestring budget,” she explained. But after a couple of slow months, increasingly long work days and a growing financial burden, the trio decided the closure was their best alternative.

Wallingford has lost one of its most acclaimed, innovative restaurants. Avila, which Jared and Bronwen Carpenter opened just last November with Chef Alex Pitts, was closed as of yesterday morning, according to a post on its Facebook page:

Thanks so much to all our patrons, staff, and purveyors over the last year. Avila’s doors are closed, but we created a lot of great times and great food, and had fun doing it!

Reviewers agreed that Pitts was pushing the culinary envelope at Avila, not always to diners’ delight.
The Seattle Times said:

Their cerebral style of cooking is freewheeling yet grounded in solid technique. A read-through of the menu tantalizes; sampling it is never dull but sometimes begged the question: Is this culinary exuberance or creativity run amok?

The Seattle Weekly’s Surly Gourmand said:

Someone needs to give these motherfuckers the stern talking to they obviously never got in kindergarten: you can’t mix the Play-Doh colors together, and you can’t pair sunchoke flan with angel food cake. You just can’t. You might try, but you can’t.

When it named Avila the city’s “Boldest Newcomer,” Seattle Magazine said:

The seasonal/ local/sustainable cooking is gloriously bold if, at times, overly enthusiastic (many dishes would benefit from Coco Chanel’s “take one thing off before you leave the house” mantra). But to taste cooking this ambitious, with such vision, without hopping a plane to NYC or LA? We’ll take that deal.

Seattle Met summed up its critique with insights into Wallingford’s restaurant scene:

On that piece of 45th, you’re sitting smack in the middle of a string of other one-word restaurants—Joule, Sutra, Tilth—which pretty much corner the market on food that’s originally conceived, impeccably sourced, and priced accordingly. No sense taking them on when you could apply your considerable wit and verve to something a little more suited to weeknight casual than weekend destination.

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Dim sum restaurant opening this weekend

July 19th, 2010 by master

Wallingford’s eagerly anticipated Chinese restaurant Bamboo Village will open this weekend and serve dim sum every day.

Owner Po Lee told us that the restaurant, at the corner of Stone Way and N. 49th St., will be open for business for dinner on Saturday, July 24. On Sunday Bamboo Village will be open its regular hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (it’ll stay open till 10:00 on Fridays and Saturdays).

Dim sum will be available all day, every day. From 10:30 to 3:00 carts will circulate among the tables. After 3:00, patrons will order from the menu, and their dim sum will be ready in 15 minutes, Lee said.

Bamboo Village will also feature a large menu of dishes from various regions of China.

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Bamboo Village dim sum restaurant delayed

May 11th, 2010 by master

In March we reported on the eagerly anticipated new Chinese restaurant opening in Wallingford at 4900 Stone Way. At the time, Bamboo Village, which will specialize in dim sum, was slated to open in late May or early June.

We talked this morning with owner Po Lee, who told us that the opening will be delayed until early July because the construction and permitting process has taken longer than expected. The exterior of the restaurant is almost done, and now the interior will take shape.

Lee also told us he’s hired a dim sum chef from The Mirage in Las Vegas.

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Nearby Paseo has '2nd best sandwich' in country

May 6th, 2010 by master

A Fremont eatery is getting national attention for some of its grub. The Cuban Roast Sandwich at Paseo Caribbean was named the second best sandwich in the nation by TLC. The cable channel is doing a special series called “Best Food Ever.” You can read the rest of the sandwich rundown here.

Granted, Paseo falls outside even the most generous border of Wallingford, but we’ve been patrons and fans since the week they opened in the mid-1990s (and the half chicken dinner was $5.75!). On the downside, the lines will be even longer now…

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