It may not be legitimately fall yet, but the day after Labor Day does tend to kick it off in our body clocks. In Seattle, three phenomena are merging this season to create a perfect storm for restaurant-going.Fall is most Northwest chefs' favorite time to cook. Sure, many fine cooks enjoy the challenge that is January. But in general, harvest season—around here in fullest roar from July through October—is what brings in the ripest bounty and most fully sparks the culinary imagination. I’m thinking now about the heirloom and cherry tomatoes I savored at Altura last week. Sweet as candy, in a preparation (with watermelon, pepper, beautiful basil, and a chunk of burrata streaming with cream) fully inspired by the perfection of the produce.
The year’s number-one restaurant trend is inherently autumnal. If you’re reading this you probably already know that the biggest damn deal in Seattle restaurants this past year has been fire. The open hearth—for cooking chicken and smoking yogurt at Bar Sajor, for blistering pizzas at Bar Cotto and Stoneburner, for a little bit of everything at Tanakasan and the Whale Wins, and soon-to-be the centerpiece of Jason Wilson’s new downtown destination, the Miller’s Guild—is not only dominating the culinary scene, it’s filling restaurants with the aroma of woodsmoke and the allure of coziness. Doesn’t get much more autumnal than that, folks.
A slew of hotly awaited restaurants are just on the cusp of opening. We are talking about Westward from Josh Henderson—which opens today!—along with other September projections including mkt. from Ethan Stowell, Roux from Matthew Lewis, Barnacle from Renee Erickson, and Le Petit Cochon from Art of the Table's Dunstin Ronspies’ brother Derek. October promises Josh Henderson’s chaser, Hollywood Tavern in Woodinville, along with Brendan McGill’s Hitchcock follow-up Altstadt in Pioneer Square, and Aragona from the Cascina Spinasse people. And before fall officially gives way to winter, we may well see Kurt Dammeier’s Liam’s, a new Din Tai Fung at U Village, a recasting of Flying Fish in South Lake Union, a bricks-and-mortar Juicebox in Pike/Pine, Brimmer and Heeltap in the old Le Gourmand space, and Thierry Rautureau’s much anticipated Loulay downtown. Not to mention the Miller’s Guild.