What’s New The chef.
Diners flock to the legendary Herbfarm for nine courses of seasonal fare with world-class wines, floral digs, and $250 price tags. These days they also come for wunderkind new chef Keith Luce’s subtle innovations with Northwest cuisine. The Herbfarm, 14590 NE 145th St, Woodinville, 425-485-5300; www.theherbfarm.com
What’s New Bellevue address.
El Gaucho—the Seattle classic where the steaks are huge, the tabs are huger, and the spigots flow with double martinis—has merrily cloned itself in Bellevue’s City Center Plaza as if it was still the roaring ’90s. El Gaucho, City Center Plaza, 555 110th Ave NE (entrance at 108th Ave and Fourth St), Bellevue, 425-455-2715; www.elgaucho.com
BIS ON MAIN
What’s New Expansion and remodel.
The beloved meet and greet for West Bellevue gentry has recently doubled in size, sleeked up its interior, installed a proper bar, and improved its street appeal. The terrific bistro food they’ve left alone, thank heavens. Bis on Main, 10213 Main St, Bellevue, 425-455-2033; www.bisonmain.com
What’s New A serious hotel restaurant in Kirkland.
In its short life Trellis has become the place to drop in for dinner in Kirkland, with chef Brian Scheehser pulling the produce out of the ground himself and dinner guests savoring his creations in chic Napa-like quarters. Trellis, 220 Kirkland Ave, Kirkland, 425-284-5900; www.trellis restaurant.net
What’s New Life in Bellevue.
All eyes are on Eric and Sophie Banh as they re-create in Old Bellevue the upmarket piquancy of their Capitol Hill Vietnamese stunner, Monsoon. Sophisticated Main Street digs and claypot Kurobuta pork belly bode well so far. Monsoon East, 10245 Main St, Bellevue, 425-635-1112; www.monsoon restaurants.com/east
What’s New A Seattle outpost.
If you really need proof beyond its almond croissants that the charming European Belle Pastry is the best French bakery in -Bellevue, its westward expansion to Ballard’s Leary Way paints a clear picture of success. Great coffee, too. Belle Pastry, 10246 Main St, Bellevue, 425-289-0015; www.bellepastry.com
What’s New Argon gas wine storage.
Actually, the whole restaurant is new—situated on the shore of Lake Washington at the boutique Woodmark Hotel—but even better than its tawny booths and pretty patio is a state-of-the-art wine preservation system, which allows its list of 80 by-the-glass wines to stay fresh in opened bottles for up to a month. Bin Vivant, 1200 Carillon Pt, Kirkland, 425-803-5595; www.binvivant.com
JANUIK/NOVELTY HILL WINERY
What’s New Ultramodern tasting room.
Two wineries partnered with Mithun architects and opened their doors in 2007, with sleek windowed corridors connecting the tasting room to the barrel rooms. The award-winning wines go down easy, too. Januik/Novelty Hill Winery, 14710 Woodinville Redmond Rd NE, Woodinville, 425-481-5502; www.noveltyhilljanuik.com
PEARL BAR AND DINING
What’s New Regional menu.
Northwest natives and experienced restaurateurs Bradley Dickinson and Mikel Rogers opened Pearl in November with a regionally inspired menu of fresh ingredients from local farms. Pearl Bar and Dining, Lincoln Square, 700 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, 425-455-0181; www.pearlbellevue.com
What’s New James Beard Award.
Holly Smith opened Cafe Juanita eight years ago after working as a sous chef under Seattle’s Tom Douglas. Her Northern Italian cuisine infused with organic Pacific Northwest ingredients earned the Beard foundation’s coveted prize for 2008’s best Northwest chef. Cafe Juanita, 9702 NE 120th Pl, Kirkland, 425-823-1505; www.cafejuanita.com
SIP AT THE WINE BAR AND RESTAURANT
What’s New Wine, lots of it.
Since opening in July 2006, Sip marked its place in the burgeoning Issaquah Highlands by offering over 250 global wines and cultivating customers with a VIP rewards program and half-off wine Wednesdays. Sip at the Wine Bar and Restaurant, 1084 NE Park Dr, Issaquah, 425-369-1181; www.siprestaurant.com
VICTOR’S CELTIC COFFEE CO. AND ROASTERS
What’s New Expanded dining.
Redmond’s homey coffee hangout doubled the size of the seating area, making even more room for locals hankering for banana lattes, board games, and homemade chocolate whipped cream. Victor’s Celtic Coffee Co. and Roasters, 7993 Gilman St, Redmond, 425-881-6451; www.victorscelticcoffee.com
TOT SPOT CAFÉ
What’s New Family hangout.
This year-old family-focused café gives moms a place to work, study, read, or just relax while kids are monitored in age-specific play areas. Tot Spot Café, 17802 134th Ave NE, Woodinville, 425-488-2795; www.totspotcafe.com
What’s New Luxury renovations.
The Eastside shopping destination recently finished a $40 million renovation bringing fresh light to their brand new walkways and floors. The beloved climbable tugboat has been relocated to the third-floor Kids’ Cove along with a fleet of other play toys, and a revamping is under way to create a corridor on the main level incorporating luxury designer boutiques such as 7 for All Mankind and Free People. Bellevue Square, 575 Bellevue Square, Bellevue, 425-646-3660; www.bellevuesquare.com
What’s New Design corner.
This home and decorative accessories boutique imports pieces from all around the world such as Arte Italica dinnerware and popular John Derian decoupage plates. Fabrics and decor in the new design corner inspire customers with decorating ideas for their own homes. Liberty 123, 123 Park Ln, Kirkland, 425-822-1232; www.liberty123.com
What’s New Ransom + Scout handbags.
This home design store inspires customers to mix it up with new- and old-school picks like contemporary Austrian throw pillows and vintage chairs. New to the store are hand-printed, Italian leather Ransom + Scout bags, each with its own individual story printed on the side for extra flair. Koap Home, 116 Central Way, Kirkland, 425-822-2003; www.koaphome.com
POSH ON MAIN
What’s New Online shopping.
Angela Self opened her chic shoe shop in 2006 highlighting haute couture designers such as Badgley Mischka and Alexander McQueen in gold-framed alcoves throughout her boudoir-inspired boutique. And now that fancy footwear’s available online, too. Posh on Main, 10245 Main St, Bellevue, 425-454-2022; www.poshonmain.com
LA REE BOUTIQUE
What’s New A.L.C. designs.
Old Bellevue isn’t so old anymore. In addition to elite designers like Alexander Wang and Missoni, this spring the trendy boutique will offer a brand new clothing line called A.L.C. from celebrity stylist Andrea Lieberman. La Ree Boutique, 11 103rd Ave NE, Bellevue, 425-453-7868; www.lareeboutique.com
RAG MENS STYLE
What’s New Haute Pick award.
The luxe apparel boutique captured the 2008 Haute Picks award for best boutique from the Downtown Bellevue Association. It caters to the fashion-forward guy who dresses in Duncan Quinn suits or True Religion jeans and wants a shopping experience to match: flat-screen TV, pool table, and shoeshine chair. Rag Mens Style, 10500 NE Eighth St, Ste 115, Bellevue, 425-637-3979; www.ragmensstyle.com
KATE QUINN ORGANICS
What’s New A Kirkland branch.
Two and a half years after launching her organic baby clothing line in Seattle, Kate Quinn moved across the lake to open her new store and headquarters, which also features 100 percent organic baby bedding. In early 2009 expect to see Quinn’s new organic women’s line hit the shelves. Kate Quinn Organics, 431 Sixth St S, Kirkland, 425-952-4206; www.katequinnorganics.com
HUSH BABY CHILDREN’S BOUTIQUE
What’s New You Rock mealtime collection from SugarBooger.
The children’s and maternity boutique offers more than just lush baby blankets and celebrity-coveted diaper bags, it holds story time led by the Seattle arts group the Moonpaper Tent and serves complimentary lattes and cookies. Hush Baby Children’s Boutique, 7303 164th Ave NE, Redmond, 425-558-3835; www.hushbaby.com
What’s New The address.
Stella has moved to bigger digs a half-mile away to make more room for its desirable vintage handbags, jewelry, and clothes. Owner Martha Flittie scours the globe for her epoch treasures and even makes house calls to pick up your unwanted fashions. Stella Vintage, 195 Front St N, Issaquah, 425-392-2882; www.stellavintage.com
What’s New Location.
Showcased collections by Oscar de la Renta and Anne Barge are sure to make any woman feel glamorous on her special day or even just a special night. Add the final touches with timeless jewelry pieces like freshwater pearl cluster earrings. Voletta Couture, 800 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, 425-454-5020; www.volettacouture.com
THE GRAPE CHOICE
What’s New The interior.
This casual retail wine shop and bar just completed a face-lift with the addition of new tables and chairs and new artworks on their freshly painted walls. Sample local and international wines by the Kirkland waterfront—and bring your pup. Owners Larry Springer and Penny Sweet are dog lovers, too. The Grape Choice, 7 Lakeshore Plaza, Kirkland, 425-827-7551; www.thegrapechoice.com
What’s New Everything.
Developer Schnitzer West has lined up a roster of high-end retail shops for the luxury living and retail site set to open beginning in the fall of 2009, including the DavidBartonGym, Neiman Marcus, Jimmy Choo, and Bottega Veneta, all making their Washington debuts. The Bravern, NE Eighth St between 110th and 112th Aves NE, Bellevue, www.thebravern.com
THE LANDING IN RENTON
What’s New The 14-screen movie theater.
The collection of retail, residential, and entertainment districts is set for a grand opening in spring 2009. The urban village will have over 30 shops and restaurants including Vino at the Landing and Izakaya Sushi. The Landing in Renton, 1215 N Landing Way, Renton, www.thelandinginrenton.com
What’s New The owners.
After 30 years of owning one of the most extensive snow-sport shops in the Seattle area, Duncan and Janet Campbell passed their store on to the next generation in November 2007. But not to worry, the store still offers knowledgeable advice and equipment for athletic enthusiasts. Sturtevant’s, 1100 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, 425-454-6465; www.sturtevants.com
What’s New Musicals and more musicals.
Stunt Girl is only the latest effort from a theater devoted to the creation of new musicals: A world premiere production in March gives song to the life and adventures of pioneering, turn-of-the-twentieth-century journalist Nellie Bly. Over 80 new musicals claim Village heritage, including work from heralded Broadway composers like Wicked’s Stephen Schwartz. Village Theatre, 303 Front St N, Issaquah, 425-392-2202; www.villagetheatre.org
What’s New The artistic director.
Theater in a shopping mall? Well, it’s been working since 1999, and things are only looking up with the arrival of Seattle actor Susanna Wilson at the helm. She’s interested in producing contemporary plays, developing new children’s musicals with a selection of local playwrights, and beefing up the company’s teen programs. SecondStory Repertory, Redmond Town Center, 16587 NE 74th St, Redmond, 425-881-6777; www.secondstoryrep.org
PERFORMING ARTS CENTER EASTSIDE
What’s New Design development.
Every aspect of Bellevue’s 2,000-seat venue is now being refined for the projected 2011 opening—the economy be damned. “I’m not slowing down,” promises executive director and CEO John Haynes. “This is the seventh performance facility that I’ve been in charge of during design and construction and it’s going to be the best.” Performing Arts Center Eastside, 855 106th Ave NE, Bellevue, 425-462-4295; www.pac-eastside.org
What’s New Chamber music at BAM.
The reputation of East King County’s sole professional orchestra as an essential source of classical pleasures improved last fall when it began offering intimate performances at Bellevue Arts Museum. This month cellist Darrett Adkins enlivens the Bach to Bach program; pianist Kevin Kenner summons Beethoven, Brahms, and Chopin in March. Bellevue Philharmonic, 510 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, 425-455-4171; www.bellevuephil.org
VILLAGE ROADSHOW GOLD CLASS CINEMAS
What’s New Upscale moviegoing.
Yes, you pay more than twice the ticket price of your local movie theater but you get first-class comfort at this lavish multiplex that opened last fall. The head-to-toe chairs recline, a button beckons fleet food and drink service, and the menu includes an undeniably appetizing Waygu beef burger. Village Road Show Gold Class Cinemas, Redmond Town Center, 16451 NE 74th St, Redmond, 425-636-5601; www.goldclasscinemas.com
LUCKY STRIKE LANES AND LOUNGE
What’s New Premium suite.
The Rat Packy bowling alley, opened early last year, enforces a strict dress code and hosts private parties in a posh suite with four lanes and its own bar. Kids can enjoy bowling before 8pm. Lucky Strike Lanes and Lounge, Lincoln Square, 700 Bellevue Way, Bellevue, 425-453-5137; www.bowlluckystrike.com
THE GOLF CLUB AT NEWCASTLE
What’s New Practice facility reopening May 2009.
Golf course architect Robert E. Cupp designed the two 18-hole public courses and all-weather driving range at Newcastle with panoramic views of Mount Rainier, the Olympics, and the Cascades. The partially covered practice facility includes both grass tees and mats, three putting greens, and bunkers for all-weather playing. The Golf Club at Newcastle, 15500 Six Penny Ln, Newcastle, 425-793-5566; www.newcastlegolf.com
THE PARLOR BILLARDS AND SPIRITS
What’s New Parlor Live comedy.
The Parlor has added stand-up comedy to its 34 upscale pool tables, pro shop, two full-service private rooms, and Ultralounge nightclub. Open for lunch—if you’re 21 or over. The Parlor Billiards and Spirits, Lincoln Square, 700 Bellevue Way, Ste 300, Bellevue, 425-289-7000; www.parlorbilliards.com
KIDS QUEST CHILDREN'S MUSEUM
What’s New Whoosh.
Newborns to 10-year-olds explore art, science, and technology at this nonprofit museum. Whoosh, the new air exhibit designed by the Seattle-based Portico Group, allows all ages to see and hear the power of air. Kids Quest Children’s Museum, Factoria Mall, 4091 Factoria Blvd SE, Bellevue, 425-637-8100; www.kidsquestmuseum.org
PRO SPORTS CLUB
What’s New Fitness Happy Hour.
The PRO Club in Bellevue is the largest private health club in the nation, thanks to contracts from neighbors Microsoft and Nintendo. Work out for less during Fitness Happy Hour and let the club help with your chores: Drop off your dry cleaning and have them detail your car. PRO Sports Club, 4455 148th Ave NE, Bellevue, 425-885-5566; www.proclub.com
GRASS LAWN PARK
What’s New Children’s play area.
After a major renovation, the 28.5-acre park been updated with climbing boulders for kids, basketball courts, and a year-round picnic pavilion—all of it eco-friendly, thanks to a grant from the Department of Ecology. Grass Lawn Park, 7031 148th Ave NE, Redmond, 425-556-2900; www.ci.redmond.wa.us
What’s New Garden tours.
Since opening eight years ago in Western Washington wine country, the 84-room luxury lodge has housed the legendary Herbfarm restaurant and its expansive kitchen garden. The roomy rooms look out over the garden, and now the public can see it, too, by scheduling a tour with “Kitchen Garden Goddess” Eaglesong. Willows Lodge, 14580 NE 145th St, Woodinville, 425-424-3900; www.willowslodge.com
What’s New High-stakes diversions closer than Vegas.
When the chips are down, a little glitzy escape every now and then never hurts. Now we can roll the dice, dine, dance, enjoy live entertainment, and even claim the spotlight ourselves—there’s Rockaraoke every Sunday night with a live band—just a stone’s throw from Twin Peaks. 37500 NE South Bend Way, Snoqualmie, 425-888-1234; www.snocasino.com