This week, the farmhouse-style brewery Fair Isle Brewing has opened its doors in Ballard after three years of anticipation. Plus, the Red Door and Valentinetti’s say goodbye, Volunteer Park Cafe is for sale, and Ethan Stowell begins work on a new project in the Via6 building. You’ll find all that below, plus upcoming foodie events you should know about, like the All Star Truffle Dinner. For more ideas, check out our list of hygge bars, cafes, bakeries, and restaurants to try, our list of food and drink specials to try for Lunar New Year, our list of Robert Burns night events, our list of places to try mocktails for Dry January, our list of food and drink specials to try in January, and our full food and drink calendar.
Fair Isle Brewing
Originally announced in 2016 and beset by several delays, this much-anticipated brewery focused on experimental farmhouse-style beers like saisons and sours finally opened its first taproom on Thursday, January 23, in Ballard’s brewery district. While there’s no food available, guests are welcome to bring in their own. The space also plans to host pop-ups, including tasting menus from Herbfarm chef Chris Weber and sous chef Jack Gingrich and a pop-up with $4 burgers from another chef friend.
Greenlake Bar & Grill
The longtime Green Lake mainstay, which closed in February 2018 to make way for a location of the mad-scientist burger joint chain Lunchbox Laboratory, is set to reopen on Monday, January 27. The Lunchbox Lab location has been closed, and the bar is refreshing the space for the re-opening. Once open, they’ll serve classic bar fare like tacos and burgers, as they did before.
Lula Coffee Co.
This new coffee shop will have its official grand opening in West Seattle today, January 24, and tomorrow, January 25. During the grand opening, hot drinks will be available for just $1 and iced drinks will be $2. Owner Taylor Platt has spent nine years at Cutters Point Coffee Co. and will serve their coffee in the shop. The new shop, which also features a drive-through, has cultivated what Platt calls a positive “girl power” atmosphere with a mural with motivational messages by artist Tori Kirihara, and will also serve breakfast burritos from the food truck El Chapulin Oaxaqueño.
Georgetown’s popular, inexpensive Japanese restaurant Cutting Board has closed. Signs indicate that the well-received donburi spot Fremont Bowl is opening a second location called Donburi Station in the space (set to open in early spring, possibly in March, according to Eater Seattle).
Essential Bakery Cafe
Madison Valley’s Essential Baking Cafe has been sold to new owner/operator Jenny Finau, who will re-open it as Love + Flour. Finau plans to keep the cafe mostly the same and continue to serve Essential’s breads, in addition to a selection of pastries, and the staff will remain the same. The cafe will close for a few days during the transition. Essential Baking Cafe’s other locations in Wallingford and Georgetown will remain open.
The Red Door
Seattle craft beer pioneer the Red Door announced in a Facebook post this week that it will close its doors on Sunday, March 8, after 31 years of business. Today we think of craft beer as ubiquitous in Seattle, but the Fremont bar was one of the first local watering holes in the city to focus on craft brews (back when they were still called “microbrews,” as Washington Beer Blog notes). In the announcement, owners Pete and Emily Hanning wrote, “We take our stewardship of this historic building and business seriously, but we just aren’t able to make it work financially. We notified our team in person today and will be doing anything we can to support them in this transition. We are grateful for you, and each and every person who has come through our doors – whether customer, supplier or team member – and will miss being a part of our wonderful Fremont community.” They also invited patrons to come often to “raise a glass and celebrate the 31 years we’ve had together” before the closing date.
A mere three months after the beloved breakfast spot the Hi-Life rebranded to Valentinetti’s, an Italian restaurant serving Roman-style pizza and pasta, the establishment has closed. An announcement on the website reads, “We are sorry to announce the closure of Valentinetti’s effective immediately. The Seattle restaurant market is in a rapidly ever-changing state of flux and in conceptualizing Valentinetti’s, we clearly mis-read what the dining public is seeking. Thanks to the many of you that supported us at the Hi-Life for 15 years and for those that made their way through the front doors at Valentinetti’s in our remarkably short run.” The new concept was perhaps too niche—it was conceived as a tribute to owner Peter Levy’s wife’s godmother Aurora Valentinetti, who was a former puppetry professor at the University of Washington and has a puppetry museum named after her, and was meant to include puppet shows later on, which never happened. The news also brings to mind the recent closure of Central Smoke, which was also compelled to pivot to a new concept due to what they called “the unforgiving economics of the Seattle restaurant scene” and closed suddenly after less than two years.
OTHER FOOD NEWS
Frankie & Jo’s announces third location
The Instagram-famous plant-based ice creamery that promises to “radically shift the way you think about ice cream” has announced that it will expand with a third location, set to open in University Village sometime this spring. The brand should fit right in with the mall’s offerings, which also include Rachel’s Ginger Beer and Molly Moon’s and will also soon be home to Shake Shack and Hello Robin locations (also opening this spring).
Volunteer Park Cafe for sale
The enduringly popular Capitol Hill fixture Volunteer Park Cafe, which has been open for 13 years, is up for sale as part of a $1.7 million real estate package. Owner Ericka Burke told Seattle Met she wants to pass the restaurant on to a buyer “that will do a beautiful job,” and says that the reasons for the closure are personal rather than economic. The restaurant will remain open until it is purchased.
Ethan Stowell opening new restaurants inside Via6
It looks like big-time Seattle restaurateur and chef Ethan Stowell is taking over the space recently vacated by fellow culinary juggernaut Tom Douglas. Douglas closed his restaurants TanakaSan, Home Remedy, and Assembly Hall inside the Via6 building downtown this month, and according to a message sent out to Via6 residents, Stowell’s team is “working on an exciting new restaurant and coffee option” to fill the space, tentatively set to open this summer. Stowell has made some other changes to his restaurant empire lately: He closed his Ballard restaurants Marine Hardware and Bramling Cross and his Wallingford restaurant Super Bueno at the end of 2019, and will reopen a new Fremont location of Stowell’s popular Italian restaurant concept Tavolàta in late spring 2020. He’s also opening a location of Tavolàta downtown soon, in addition to bringing a new outpost of his well-liked Queen Anne restaurant How to Cook a Wolf to Madison Park this year.
Gluten-free mochi doughnuts come to Dahlia Bakery
Tom Douglas’s downtown Dahlia Bakery has begun serving gluten-free mochi doughnuts from their line Oh Mochi Donuts, which were previously sold at the now-closed Assembly Hall and are available at Nordstrom in New York City. The crispy, chewy, rice-based treats provide a gluten-free alternative to others like the wildly popular ones at Dochi, which contain gluten.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 24
Ballard 2 Year Anniversary Party
The Woodinville-bred cidery’s Ballard taproom will celebrate two years of life with $5 flatbread pizzas, raffles, and prizes.
Cider Pairing Dinner Cruise With Schilling Hard Cider Company
Sit down to a three-course supper complemented by a selection of fermented apple beverages from Schilling as you take in the sights of Lake Union and Lake Washington.
Mead Release! Spicy Strawberry Lime with Ghost Pepper
With kicky ghost pepper, sweet strawberries, and punchy limeade, this new flavor from the Sodo mead purveyors couldn’t be further from the Old English variety. Other available options include a spicy ginger-cardamom number, a lavender concoction, a bean berry situation, and more. Once you’re a little boozed up, stay on for a dance party with Flow Studios.
pFriem Free Tasting Event
Hood River-based brewery pFriem will provide a special selection of brews for tasting.
At this bacchanalia, revel in the age-old tradition of Saturnalia, an ancient Roman pagan festival traditionally celebrated in December in honor of Saturn. To pay homage to the agricultural deity, Chef Killian Drake will prepare a lavish “phantasmagorical feast” sourced from local gardens, ethical butchers, and local farms and wineries, and digging in with your hands is recommended for maximum hedonism. Guests are encouraged to dress to the nines with period costume or fancy clothes and bring along siggilaria (a small wax pottery figurine given as a Saturnalia gift) to bestow upon servers and chefs at the event.
Westland Distillery will celebrate their yearly “Week of Reek” (seven whole days devoted to smoky, odoriferous peated whiskeys) with a bottle release, a symposium, and a cocktail competition.
Port Townsend’s annual beer festival offers pours from over 30 breweries, from classics to Northwest-inspired oddballs.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 25
10th Annual Belgian Fest
Brewing beers with Belgian yeast yields a range of ales with a distinctive fruity flavor. This festival featuring more than 100 Belgian-style beers crafted by Washington breweries is the perfect opportunity to taste them all, including funky lambics, tangy saisons, dubbels, tripels, abbeys, and wits.
Kickin’ Pepper Jelly
Like it hot? Learn how to make and can your own spicy pepper jelly to zhuzh up everything from a cheese plate to grilled meats to cream cheese.
Latinx Brunch at Barkada
Sit down to a Latinx-inspired brunch from Ecuadorian chef Jose Garzòn’s pop-up.
Lunar New Year Malasada Pop-Up
In honor of Lunar New Year, Super Six will stuff malasadas (a kind of Portuguese doughnut, dusted in crunchy granulated sugar) with a filling made from White Rabbits milk candies, a nostalgic Chinese sweet.
Six Year Anniversary Party
Don swanky threads (or come dressed as a sea creature) for the Octopus Bar’s sixth anniversary, weeks before they open their new location in Wallingford. The party will flit back and forth between Murphy’s Pub and Changes In Wallingford.
Chinese New Year Celebration
Cofounders Raymond Kwan and Barry Chan named their Ballard craft brewery Lucky Envelope for the colorful red envelopes traditionally stuffed with money and given out on Chinese New Year to bring good fortune. So it only makes sense that it’s the perfect place to usher in the Year of the Rat. On January 20, they’ll unveil a bevy of brews inspired by Chinese tea, and on January 22, they’ll follow that up with a lineup of beers based on popular Hong Kong cocktails. On January 25 and 26, they’ll debut multiple limited releases, like the Mijiaya Historic Chinese Beer (brewed from an ancient recipe) and Metal Rat Hazy IPA (a collaboration made with the Chinese American–owned Highland Brewing in Asheville), and Panda Dim Sum will serve up Chinese bites from a refurbished school bus. Naturally, 88 lucky red envelopes filled with special surprises will be given out each day.
Weekend Lunch Pop-Up
As a special “weekend indulgence,” the cozy Beacon Hill wine bar Petite Soif will offer a fresh, comforting three-course lunch menu that includes pickled shrimp with winter radishes and green goddess dressing, a choice of chicken or vegetarian pot pie with a chicory salad, and olive oil poppyseed cake, with wine pairings. If you don’t want to commit to the whole menu, the dishes are available a la carte, too.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 26
All Star Truffle Dinner
Truffle expert and Issaquah-based Cascadia Truffles owner Sunny Diaz spends her days hunting truffles professionally with the aid of her intrepid and adorable helper, Stella the truffle dog. (Stella is a Lagotto Romagnolo, an Italian breed often trained to find the coveted fungus.) At this dinner, you’ll have the unique opportunity to tuck into a six-course meal showcasing native Pacific Northwest truffles foraged by the chefs themselves, and the lineup is stacked: All four chefs, including Mutsuko Soma of Kamonegi and Hannyatou (Seattle), Misti Norris of Petra and the Beast (Dallas, Texas), Nite Yun of Nyum Bai (Oakland, California), and Caroline Glover of Annette (Aurora, Colorado), were featured in Food and Wine‘s best new chefs for 2019.
Chicago’s New American restaurant Bad Hunter, known for its vegetable-centric menu and low-ABV craft cocktails, will team up with Navy Strength for an Omakase cocktail tasting. Tickets include two rounds of tastings paired with Navy Strength bites. Later on, à la carte options will open up to the public.
Machine House Bake Off 2020: Cookies
Can’t get enough Great British Bake-Off? At Machine House’s “mildly competitive” monthly potluck series, watch contestants vie to turn out the best cakes, pies, breads, and loaves, judged by votes from other participants and patrons and guest “celebrity judges.” Competitors can win bonus points for including Machine House brews in their bakes, and the baker with the most tokens at the end of the six months will be crowned the victor and win a $100 gift card, trophy, and custom bake-off champion apron. The theme for January is cookies, so get ready for snickerdoodles, shortbread, and more buttery, crumbly treats.
MONDAY, JANUARY 27
GONG FU’D: An Evening of Traditional Chinese Tea Service
Lecosho executive chef Cody Westerfield’s “hyperlocal” farm-to-table pop-up De La Soil and Tuk Muk Farms will team up for a traditional Chinese tea service, with five courses of food paired with different teas and a “few little surprises.”