Back in the day, Kristen Young and James Lechner busted their butts serving at Cafe Campagne, while a young line cook by the name of Jason Stoneburner was busy making croque monsieurs back in the kitchen.
Fast forward a few career moves and Stoneburner is executive chef at Bastille, Lechner the wine director and GM. The two are preparing to split their time between the Ballard bistro and a new restaurant down the street…conveniently named Stoneburner.
Helping ensure Bastille runs smoothly when these gents open the new place: That would be Young. She came on last month as dining room manager and sommelier, creating a reunion of sorts. Most recently Young worked at RN74; before that she was the wine director at Waterfront Seafood Grill (now Aqua by El Gaucho), and handled the wine program when Tilth opened.
Her plans for more participatory drinking include introducing brown-bag flights, wherein guests put down $10 to blind taste three wines. Meanwhile, she remains a fan of Lechner’s French-and-Northwest-only wine list, which stays true to Northwest and French bottles rather than hot vintages and of-the-moment varietals “that are going to taste a little bit slutty, like the prom queen.”
Here, a few of Kristen Young's favorite things.
Nonwine beverage: It's basically a Bitter Admiral with soda water. I don't care that's it's no longer summer and have become such a gin girl. I do love Captive Spirits' Big Gin. It's a beautifully balanced product. Equal parts Big Gin, Campari, grapefruit juice, and soda water. Great apertif.
Place to drink wine: Nell's wine list is so well-built, balanced and of great value. RN74 always has unique treasures on by the glass, and right now, they have a mind-blowing grower Champagne flight.
Underappreciated varietal: Loire Valley chenin blanc. It is the chameleon of the Loire Valley. It can be sweet, sparkling, off-dry, bone-dry, botrytis-affected, whatever. But it's honeyed, racy, high acidity and elegance are omnipresent.
First drink: It could have been a few high quality products...Zima, Mad Dog 20/20 but I'm pretty sure it was a Bartles and James sparkling wine cooler out of a two-liter. Hold up, does it count that my Grandma Bea used to feed us brandied cherries over ice cream at night? Grandma wanted to watch Johnny Carson in peace.
Banned from the wine list: See above. History teaches us that we can learn a lot about what NOT to do from our past.
Washington wine is...Evolving rapidly. We are such a young wine producing region when you consider the Old World. But, there are so many smart, soulful people making wine in Washington that treat viticulture and vinification with such respect. It's a very exciting place to be. I'm really excited about cooler-climate sites like Underwood Mountain. W. T. Vintners is bringing in gruner veltliner from UM that will surely be stellar and lively. Also, Syncline has really upped the bar for Washington state's sparkling wines. Their Scintillation Blanc des Blancs is absolutley stunning.
Special-occasion bottle: Krug. nothing says celebration better that Champagne. No one does it better than Krug.
Day drink: I will occasionally enjoy a can of PBR while mowing the lawn.
Guilty pleasure: If you mean wine, there is no guilt with this one, just pleasure and that is vintage Madeira. If we are just talking about guilty pleasures in life, currently I have two: AMC's The Walking Dead—it is 100 percent appointment television—and occasionally karaoke.
Hangover remedy: All my cool and smart friends drink coconut water, but, have you tried that stuff? It's bloody awful...and so good for you. So my short answer is coconut water and Aleve. Or, if you don't want to feel like you are drinking baby vomit, there is this great stuff called Berocca, a vitamin tablet full of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and zinc that dissolves into a glass of water.
Place to drink on day off: After work it's Hazlewood or 9 Lb Hammer in Georgetown, on my way home. Another favorite place drink have a cocektail is at home on my couch in my pajamas watching TV. Quinn's, Bar Ferd'nand, and Zig Zag (of course).
Place to eat on day off: Nell's. The showcased fresh ingredients always shine and aren't run over by sauce. Anytime I take people there, they always feel like they have just been let in on a neighborhood secret. Completely on the other side of the spectrum (and other side of town) is Ezell's Fried Chicken. Pure comfort and joy. Ezell's spicy chicken and Cremant rosé. Best friends forever.
Recent splurge wine: Thanksgiving juice, of course. Jose Michel Brut (yes, another grower Champagne, and offered by the glass at Bastille) and some older Produttori Barbaresco. Nonwine items splurged on: a "me day" that I encourage everyone to have once in a while, featuring a trip to my new favorite shoe store, "Boot Girl" in Ballard and an afternoon at Banya 5.
Can't live without: Peanut butter. Can't live without wine: Grand Cru Burgundy. Otherwise it's a tie between puppies and TV.
Work outfit: I mix it up a bit these days but more often than not, it's skinny jeans, heels and a suit jacket...very Liz Lemon.
Breakfast dish: Anything from Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle. Their quiche is the best in town and the twice-baked almond croissant is pure heaven. if i'm at home, my latest thing is goat cheese and honey on toast. Ballard Bee Co. makes some dark creamed honey that will blow your mind.
Lunch spot:Paseo for roasted pork sandwich. I truly don't know what my favorite part is; the succulent pork, the sweet(but not too sweet onions), the aioli or the baguettes.
Wine myth to debunk: Sommeliers are not snobs!!! They are some of the most humble, friendly and down to earth people you will ever meet. After all, we are just talking about grapes.
Underappreciated bar: 9 Lb Hammer in Georgetown. Shuffleboard, beer, shot and a sandwich from next door's diner, The Square Knot. What's not to love?
Craziest work story that can be committed to print: It is totally cheesy and cliche to say that 'whatever happens in the walk-in, stays in the walk-in'?