The place is Ethan Stowell’s latest: just a wide spot between walls in the cozy Tangletown commercial district in Wallingford, glowing golden from the sidewalk, its 28 seats—some uncomfortably backless—spilling over with young foodies who don’t seem to care about comfort. They clearly don’t care about hearing loss.

The kitchen buzzes along its east wall, with Herbfarm and Poppy alum Joe Ritchie presiding over a Mediterranean-inspired menu straight out of the Stowell playbook: fish like hamachi ceviche and crab salad with tarragon; meat like grilled rabbit and fried quail with rosemary; vegetable plates (and plenty of ’em) like potato-squash gnocchi with crispy shallots and thyme. 

The food is not in its initial months measuring up to the potential of its descriptions, with intriguing failures like lemon-thyme-zucchini fritters (nicely perfumed but much too runny), pedestrian ones like overseared halibut (though well matched to braised artichoke hearts, greens, and chanterelles), and outright tragedies like the root vegetable tagine (whose catalog of excitements—preserved lemon, Medjool dates—failed to harmonize in the slightest).

The cocktails are unassailable. One, the TKO, particularly proves the worth of barrel aging, its Cazadores Blanco tequila mellowing into the vermouth, Fernet Branca, bitters, clove, and cider. Served in a rocks glass with one particularly solid rock of ice.  

Why go For all its enhancement opportunitiesMkt. feels vital and, within weeks of opening, beloved by its neighbors. Worth a stop for the killer booze and a certain port-glazed fig tart with pistachio gelato I cannot stop dreaming about.

This article originally appeared in the February 2014 issue of Seattle Met.