Restaurant Bea, Madrona’s new destination for “polished comfort food” makes its debut in less than two weeks. Owners Tom Black and Kate Perry have been busy transforming the distinctive angular building that previously housed June, and before that Crémant, working to restore a neighborhood-meets-destination restaurant to an area in need of more convivial establishments for adults (though kids are welcome, too).
The dining room has more banquette seating and the bar area is larger than the June days. The glossy yellow door remains the same; perhaps the biggest change is the addition of some seriously floral wallpaper. Not the ornate sort of wallpaper you see everywhere these days, but rather pink flowers twining along a creamy background. It’s distinctive, it’s surprising, and one day some intoxicated person will definitely leave food-stained fingerprints on the pristine cream background. And yet somehow, it falls into an unexpected companionship with the cement walls and dark wood bar area. Perry is hesitant to display it in photographs until the space is finished, lest people think Bea will be some sort of flowery destination for tea parties. Though three minutes with Black would surely dispel that notion.
The two met through mutual friends four years ago. She worked in restaurant marketing, he was the chef at former culinary powerhouse Fuller’s, then moved on to open the Barking Frog in Woodinville, later consulting at places like 35th Street Bistro, as well as teaching and private cheffing. In 2010, Black started advising his friend on a potential restaurant project, an idea that morphed into the two going into business together. Along the way they developed a sibling-like rapport: Mostly Black makes entertainingly unvarnished statements and Perry jumps in to finesse and affectionately chide.
Working with Black in the kitchen will be Rich Coffey, who was previously chef at Karen Binder’s Madison Park Cafe, and also happens to be the state’s only certified Cicerone, akin to a beer sommelier. Black hasn’t bestowed any formal titles on Coffey or his other kitchen cohorts. He’s not big on titles, trends, or invoking major buzzwords. Rather than invoke the term farm to table, Black says his food will “roll with the seasonal punches.” While the opening menu isn’t set, some items under consideration include a braised rabbit with pappardelle and sunchokes, a tuna noodle casserole made with local tuna, housemade noodles, porcini cream and brioche breadcrumbs, and an upgraded meatloaf, ground in house.
The restaurant will also have a chef’s table, the kind that’s actually, properly, located within the kitchen. “It puts you literally in the action,” says Black. “The bartender will be bumping into you, and the servers will be, too.” Sitting here means setting aside the regular menu and letting the kitchen feed you.
Eight-year Nell’s veteran Shannon Berkley is coming over to be lead server, while Craig Schoen, who spent nearly three years at Spur, will be tending bar and managing the cocktail list. Hopefully Coffey will weigh in on the beer program.
For now Restaurant Bea will open at 4pm Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday for a 4–6 happy hour, and start dinner service at 5pm Tuesday through Saturday. Perry and Black will likely calibrate the hours to reflect the needs of the neighborhood, and intend to do the good people of Madrona a solid and introduce weekend brunch in the future. The private dining area in the back, dubbed Little Bea, can seat 20 to 22 people, and plans call for some outdoor seating this summer.