Le Zinc, a sibling to Maximilien in Pike Place Market, is nestled on the corner of 15th and Pine in the street level of the newly constructed Vox apartments. It's a French-style gastropub that owners Willy Boutillier and Axel Mace hope to open in about a week.
The owners were drawn to the space for the bright light and sunken dining area, the work of heavy-hitter Graham Baba Architects. Warm gray walls and a zinc-topped bar are accented by bright pops of red, with handcrafted tables and stools speckling the lounge area. The space at 1449 E Pine Street will seat about 70, with a dozen or so stools at the bar.
Bouttieller and Mace speak in lyrical conversational tones with handsome French accents and zero pretension. It’s most definitely a duo I’d like to sit and chat with over an absinthe. They want to serve traditional French food and drinks, without the intimidation or hefty price tag that can sometimes accompany them. The goal is to keep the menu affordable with everything under $22.
The owners quietly mentioned June 24 as the goal. But as we know a restaurant opening is always a moving target—whenever doors do open, here are five reasons to get excited.
There will be a Parisian-style absinthe fountain. Full-on absinthe service will commence from this fancy fountain, sugar cube and all. It hadn't been set up yet when I visited, but imagine a stylized bowl-shaped vessel with two spigots pouring the green stuff.
... Operated by none other than Andy McClellan. Leaving his post as bar manager at Golden Beetle, McClellan is excited for a new challenge and working on the Hill. “I’d like to get the Seattleite's palate adjusted to enjoy the flavor of anise and licorice,” he says. The cocktail list is driven by French and grape-based spirits; it will premiere with about six options, changing seasonally. “I’m still sticking to my style of making drinks," (that’s craft cocktails with some funk), he says, “but it’s going to be more focused on cognac based cocktails and eau de vie based cocktails.” There will also be full pastis service.
It seems fitting that a man named Parris runs the front of the house. Hailing from Canlis and Il Bistro, Parris Broderick, is an award-winning server and, I might add, a dream. Amidst the chaos of a restaurant in its last week before opening, he seems calm and ecstatic. He hands me a glass of water “avec lemon verbena.” Where did he find this perfect herby sprig to add to my glass among boxes of glassware and bags of linens? From the magic of his being, that’s where.
There is no shortage of mussels. Penn Cove mussels that is, and don’t forget frites. The menu will kick off with four preparations. In one version, the shellfish will be dressed in Northwest ingredients like Bing cherries, brandy, and crispy pork belly or for a more traditional Provencal-style prep with vermouth, garlic, and tomato. The menu will stay as seasonal and as local as possible. There will also be other small plates and entrees, but overall expect casual French cuisine. Jaron Witsoe, former sous chef at Maximilien, is leading the culinary charge at Le Zinc; he’s familiar with French cuisine and is excited to experiment at his new gig.
Everything is better with butter, especially if it was just hand churned. One of Le Zinc's specialties hails directly from the pages of a Victor Hugo novel—house-churned butter with cream from a local creamery. It will be salted with fleur de sel, of course, and made in an adorable French butter churn. The creamery is still to be determined.
As we said, they mentioned June 24 as a general date for opening day, but make sure to check the Le Zinc website for the most current info.