charlie durham

This guy makes a mean gougere: Cassis chef Charlie Durham

Try asking this next time you’re among friends who like to eat their way around town: ‘Remember Cassis?’ Nine times out of ten, the askee will pause, his or her eyes will light up, and they’ll start talking about roasted chicken, cassoulet, and actual French-style fries.

Maybe you remember it, too. Maybe you also have a thing for gougeres, coq au vin, and boeuf bourguignon. The restaurant down on the north end of 10th Ave on Capitol Hill is no more (they closed during that other economic bummer, the post-dot com one; we’ve been told the building that once contained Cassis and Spaghetti Reds is now totally empty) but if you want to share that thing with your wedding guests, you’re in luck.

Chef Charlie Durham, he of the duck liver custard and housemade cherry jam, and Jef Fike, most recently of The Ruins but once Cassis’s owner, have relaunched as a catering company.

The duo held a party last week at The Engine Room at Georgetown Studios to kick off their return. Along with traditional French dishes and Northwest summertime salads (cherry, basil, and sweet onions, hello), there were, um, traditional Seattle food folks in the mix. Customers and servers from Cassis’s glory days reunited, and I was charmed to see none other than Mr. Gluten Free Girl, Chef Danny Ahern, once Durham’s sous chef, helping prepare and plate (on buffet platters) seared pork belly and lentils. (Charmed to see the very traditional Seattleite Kim Thayil strut through the post-industrial landscape toward the end of the evening, too; guess he has fond recollections of the cassoulet, or maybe he was once the resto’s dishwasher?) That Ahern took the night off from his post at the Hardware Store Restaurant on Vashon Island help his old coworkers sure says something about the kind of place that Cassis was. And will again be.

Of course, this time around, you’ll be providing the place. Available for small, in-house dinner parties of three or 30, or to kick off post-nuptial celebrations with Nicoise for 300 Durham and Fike present a Northwest-bent proper French option for discerning partiers.

Welcome back, guys. Now please excuse me while I find a friend with a deep fryer – I’m thinking private pomme frite party this fall…