To the left, the current Jewel Box and future Jewel Box bar. Photo via MistralKitchen's Facebook page.

No neighborhood in Seattle has changed so much and so fast as the one that surrounds MistralKitchen. Chef/owner William Belickis can randomly espouse technical knowledge about high-rise construction thanks to the Amazon-fueled buildings ascending around him, and all the people who now walk the streets are more into drinks and bites than eight-course tasting menus.

Hence the chef is changing things up inside the Jewel Box, MistralKitchen's fine dining restaurant within a restaurant. Next month the space will be reborn as a cocktail bar. Belickis is bringing architect Tom Kundig back to design the room (Kundig's responsible for MistralKitchen's memorably angular interior), building a full-on bar at the far end, and installing clusters of lounge-style seating.

The Jewel Box Bar will serve a new menu designed specifically to pair with cocktails, since the rest of the restaurant's food is more geared toward wine. Specifically it will have higher levels of acid and spice and influences of Spain and Korea. (Why Spain and Korea? Belickis's explanation is a window into his restless brain: "They both love peppers. They're both peninsulas. Korean food is not good with wine.") Plates here will be small ones; Belickis wants to clearly delineate between bar and restaurant.

The cocktails are still in development, but they'll serve as a showcase for another topic that occupies Belickis of late—one arguably more enthralling than high-rise construction. The chef has become quite the glassblowing aficionado via his friendship with the folks at Dale Chihuly's studios (a collection of the famed glassblower's bottle openers hangs over MistralKitchen's existing bar) and has developed a series of ornate cocktail glasses for the restaurant. Belickis worked with Pennsylvania-based glassblower Michael Schunke, discussing the finer points of stems shapes, and rims. The resulting creations are so labor intensive that Schunke can create just 15 of them a day. The glasses will be displayed on lighted shelves on the walls, and on the cocktail menu. A few of its drinks will be served in these carefully wrought vessels. Maybe don't order one of these if you're prone to drunken stumbles.

Look for the Jewel Box Bar to debut around November 1. The dining room's current bar (and its very popular happy hour) will remain unchanged. So will the dining room itself, save adding a few seats to the chef's counter. The Jewel Box's tasting menus will migrate out here and be availble at any table; you can even order one at the bar—the existing bar—if you so desire.

 

 

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