Seattle has a lot of restaurants. There are great Asian eateries on every corner, cheap-and-delicious bakeries in every neighborhood and fantastically-conceived upscale eateries on every block. That’s why it takes so much to make your new restaurant stand out in this city flush with eateries.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Let’s take a look at some of the best new Seattle restaurants of 2011:
Golden Beetle. Famed Seattle chef, Maria Hines, opened this Mediterranean-themed eatery in February of 2011 in Ballard. The restaurant is based off of the Tilth chef’s travels throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East, and features blue walls, stained-glass lamps and interesting travel photographs. The food is almost entirely small plates, including delicious spanakopita cigars with homemade tzatziki sauce, lamb meatballs and French fries fried with beef fat and served with harissa aioli. The restaurant features all organic produce, and the care that the chef takes in crafting her menu is apparent. The restaurant also has a daily happy hour, which itself is well worth the trip for handcrafted cocktails and half-price appetizers. Something special: the bartender will mix you up something unique if you tell him your favorite drink ingredients.
Fuji Bakery. Fuji Bakery in the International District is a tiny shop. There are only a few tables inside, and most of the shop is taken up with the pastry counter. Baker and owner Taka Hirai spent time learning his craft in Tokyo and France, and the influence of both countries’ style is apparent in the food that he creates. Some of my favorites are the Brioche Japon, a square, French pastry filled with red bean paste and raspberry puree and dusted with powdered sugar. Hirai’s eye for French-Japanese fusion also appears in his Green Tea Danish, a Danish with red bean paste and green tea almond cream topped with toasted sesame seeds.
Book Bindery. This Ship Canal-adjacent restaurant is a swanky but comfortable new addition to Queen Anne. Created out of an old book bindery, hence the name, the restaurant’s best addition is a glassed-in addition out of which diners can watch the canal kayakers and boaters as they dine. The last time I visited the restaurants, the waiter staff was superb, as was the thoughtfully composed wine list. Our meal and the menu was almost exclusively composed of Chef Shaun McCrain’s small plates, which included summer seasonal watermelon and prosciutto. His fall menu consists of crispy sweetbreads, caramelized sea scallops and a s’mores dessert.
What have been your favorite new additions to the Seattle restaurant scene this year?