Madison Valley will lose Thierry Rautureau’s much-loved Rover’s this spring. “The Chef in the Hat!!!” is closing what we might call “The Restaurant-in-a-House” after 20 years. (The property, not the restaurant business, is available for lease.)
Rover’s has actually been in existence for 30 years, launched by The Bush School’s headmaster Les Larsen as an after-hours hobby, then sold to a restaurateur from Los Angeles; Rautureau bought it in 1992.
Rautureau will continue to operate Luc, at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way East and East Madison Street, a popular French-style café, but the days of elegant dining and foie gras will come to an end.
“I’m a ‘Curious George’ kind of guy,” Rautureau told me. “There are some exciting projects in the works.”
In the meantime, at the end of Madison Street in Madison Park, Bing’s has reinvented itself, with a more ambitious menu, microbrews and longer happy hour.
And while we’re in the neighborhood, let’s look in to the new Madison Kitchen and say hello to the owner, Jim Goodall.
MOHAI opened at the end of December in the old Naval Reserve building at the south end of Lake Union; it’s got a new lunch spot called Compass Café.
Downtown’s Fox Sports Bar has changed to Edge Grill. It’s the same owners; they just dropped the “Fox” name.
In Belltown, the Juju Lounge (and the Alley Burger cart in the back) are shuttered. Marcus Charles will concentrate on his other restaurants around town, like Local 360. “Change is good,” he says.
If you’re looking for Michael Don Rico at Branzino, he’s g-gone, dismissed and looking for projects on Capitol Hill.
Chef Tyler Palagi, whose Radiator Whiskey Bar will open shortly in the Pike Place Market, had a temporary gig during the build-out in Everett, where he took over the failing kitchen at Prohibition Grille. Gordon Ramsey transformed it into Prohibition Gastropub and needed someone who could handle the transition and train a new, permanent chef.
Seattle Food Geek Scott Heimendinger, who quit his day job at Microsoft for a dream job at Modernist Cuisine, has been named to the prestigious “30 Under 30” list of top food and wine professionals by Forbes.com. He’s 29.
What’s new on the menu
Duke Moscrip, whose name is on six Chowder House restaurants around town, is offering special dishes of Alaska Weathervane scallops for the next two months. Restaurant owners don’t normally go calling on suppliers, but Moscrip goes. He goes to Alaska for the salmon, the halibut and the scallops, and he found three scallop boats that handle the catch his way; he calls them his “Oh, My God” scallops.
The menu currently features scallop sliders, scallops and prawns in a chop-chop salad, scallops atop pumpkin ravioli, bacon-scallop tacos, scallops with melon, a scallops-and-prawns mixed grill and a scallops-and-baby back ribs combo.
A former Bothell High basketball star, a former stock broker and one of the original owners of Ray’s Boathouse, Moscrip has become an evangelist for sustainable seafood. “Nobody else drills down like this,” he admitted.
It’s almost an indulgence, this intense level of personal, on-site research.
A chef’s dream
Maria Hines has weathered the storm of early success and is stepping confidently into the front ranks of Seattle chefs. With her third restaurant, Agrodolce, in Fremont, the Ohio native joins an elite group of local women (Kathy Casey, Lisa Dupar, Renée Erickson, Tamara Murphy, among others) who have become restaurant entrepreneurs to reckon with.
After a stint at the W’s restaurant, Earth & Ocean (2003), Hines opened Tilth (2005) and Golden Beetle (2010). Along the way, she received a Food & Wine “Best New Chef” award, a James Beard “Best Chef Pacific Northwest” award and, on “Iron Chef,” a convincing win over chef Masahura Morimoto.
Agrodolce occupies the hippie hangout fondly remembered as Still Life, with an indoor tree. Renamed 35th Street Bistro, the space went through several owners, the most recent having upgraded the dining room décor, as well as the kitchen.
With 16 gas burners, a grill, a production island and a built-in fryer, it’s a chef’s dream, a true turnkey restaurant. Hines will run it with a staff of seven, headed by her longtime chef de cuisine Jason Brzozowy.
And what better dream than the Western world’s simplest, yet most misunderstood, cuisine, from the island in the heart of Mediterranean that Goethe called “the key to Italy”: Sicily.
For Sicily, geography has always been destiny. The rocky isle, a land mass the size of Vermont, rises from the Mediterranean like a giant pebble kicked by the toe of Italy. Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and North Africans viewed it as a strategic military and cultural outpost. Ringed by rich waters and covered with dense forests, amazingly fertile hillsides and ancient vineyards, Sicily is both a crucible of original recipes and a melting pot of fragrant and exotic culinary traditions.
Hines actually wrote the menu for Agrodolce (literally “sour-sweet”) before she had ever visited Sicily; when she finally got there, early this fall, courtesy of the U.S. state department (she’s a U.S. culinary ambassador), she went straight to the Vucceria market in Palermo and bought pani con miusa: a spleen sandwich. “This is Italy’s soul food,” she said.
RONALD HOLDEN is a restaurant writer and consultant who blogs at Cornichon.org and Crosscut.com. To comment on this column, write to CityLivingEditor@nwlink.com.