Time was, destination restaurants—that is, restaurants singular and upmarket enough to draw diners from across town—were fixed firmly in destination neighborhoods: Downtown, Capitol Hill, Ballard. But this year two places have opened which challenge that particular slice of the status quo: Vendemmia in Madrona, and Salare in Ravenna.
Both are owned and run by pedigreed Seattle chefs: Vendemmia by Ethan Stowell protégé Brian Clevenger, Salare by Matt Dillon right-hand Edouardo Jordan. Both are high-end, in culinary reach and pricetag (entrees in the $25 to $30ish range) and—most tellingly—upscale ambiance. Vendemmia in particular is a little black dress of a spot: classy, classic, right for any occasion. It’s hard to imagine restaurants of such culinary ambition—serving, as Salare does, white tripe with matsutake mushrooms, fiery scotch bonnet peppers, chickpeas, and sheep sorrel—surviving, much less thriving, in a thickly residential village like Ravenna.
The reason? Whether we see it or not, the higher density that Seattle is growing into is already redefining thickly residential villages as little downtowns, with all the commercial needs of a downtown. “I knew they were traveling all the way to Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill for dinner,” Jordan told me recently, speaking about his Ravenna clientele. “I knew they had a palate, but no locations to challenge it.” Now they do. Read about the New Destination Restaurant—along with a slew of other great new spots—in this month’s Seattle Met Restaurant Issue.