Ethan Stowell officially takes on Tangletown at 5pm tonight, when doors open at his new restaurant, Mkt., at 2108 N 55th Street. It's in the historic Keystone building, though most people know it as the home of Elysian's brewpub and Mighty-O Donuts, august neighbors indeed for the new space.
During last night's trial run, neighbors were wandering in and it was still warm enough that the front garage door/window dealie was rolled up, transforming the few seats up front into an enviable vantage point.
Mkt. will be open daily from 5 to 10 and until 11 on Fridays and Saturdays. Here, five reasons to get excited about this wee newcomer.
Joe Ritchie. Straight up. The chef putting out the four-part menu of snacks, fish, meats, and veg is a relative newcomer to the Stowell camp. He previously worked with the amazing Jerry Traunfeld, both at the Herbfarm and at Poppy, where he was chef de cuisine, and has also cooked recently at Ray's Boathouse after a three-year sojourn to Colorado. From the looks of the menu, Ritchie's a nuance kind of guy. Northwest-meets-Italian may be Stowell's calling card, but this menu leans more towards the seasonal with some unexpected flourishes. A duck egg is embellished with smoked wild mushrooms, thyme, and crispy barley; a seared halibut dressed with chanterelles, braised artichoke hearts, dried chilies and chrysanthemum greens.
It's tiiiiny. In a good way. Why are you giggling? Oh, grow up. But seriously, Mkt. is Stowell's smallest restaurant to date. There are a scant 28 seats and the 600-square-foot restaurant doesn't so much have a dining room as a long open kitchen with a row of seats tucked along the side. A few more are shoehorned in up front. The layout almost says diner--the culty, upscale kind where food nerds line up outside and a whimsical chef serves things like pulled pork pancakes and sand dab BLTs. Except the spare decor and roll-up front window are unmistakeable Stowell. Oh, and that front window area promises to be prime seating during warmer months.
There's a story behind the diminutive size. The space is the original studio of photographer Chase Jarvis. He maintained the lease even after relocating the studio in 2007, hoping to find a suitable occupant. He connected with Stowell, who lined up investors and took the space down to its studs to transform it into a restaurant. And somehow he even managed to get a wood-fired oven in there, too.
Every cocktail spends time in a barrel. The contents of the small cocktail list are concocted and barrel aged right here; you can see the tops of a few barrels poking above the divider wall at the far end of the kitchen. The drinks at Stowell's restaurants have quietly been getting better and better over the years; Mkt.'s opening list includes the TKO (tequila of the cazadores blanco variety with Carpano Antica, Fernet, and Angostura bitters), the PVT (Calvados, Aperol, orange curacao, and Peychaud's bitters) and the acronymless Mr. Bond Sr. (Hendrick's, Monopolowa vodka, Lillet, and orange bitters).
Hate vowels? This restaurant is for you. I kid--who doesn't love vowels? Per Stowell, the name is an acronym for Meridian (Tangletown's original name), the Keystone building, and the current moniker of Tangletown. But the restaurant's name is pronounced "Market."