Though it’s taken owners Aaron Verzosa and Amber Manuguid much of this year (and, really, much longer) to open Archipelago, their Pacific Northwest–meets–Filipino cuisine love letter of a restaurant in Hillman City, they wouldn’t have done it any other way.
“My creativity works best when I can take my time in a space,” says Verzosa, who will run 10- to 12-course tasting menus at Archipelago, taking care to ensure diners have a moment to revel in each particular dish—its components, its ingredients, its story. As Filipino Americans with ties to the Philippines and roots here in Washington, the couple wants the restaurant to reflect exactly that. The menu, which will be sourced locally—produce from Filipino farmers in Wapato, housemade condiments like fish sauce—will adjust to the season and by the day even. One staple to count on: Verzosa’s pandesal rolls, inspired by the state’s bounty of wheat, his grandfather’s bakery in the Philippines, and, likely, the satisfying nature of warm bread.
Out of the humble, brick-walled space at 5607 Rainier Avenue South the husband and wife duo have constructed a dining room that’s both modern and homespun, in hues of cool blues and greens, with touches of tropical ephemera. There are a couple of small tables, but most of the seating (and action) resides at the 17-foot-long high-topped table facing the open kitchen. On the opposite wall: Manuguid’s fine arts degree at work in the form of a mural of lush greens, fruits, and vegetables. It’s a play on tropical, says Manuguid, but in Washington “we have our own rainforest.”
Archipelago officially opens December 1 and is accepting dinner bookings via Tock now (note: the restaurant is by reservation only). Along with the coursed menu that they estimate will run about two hours, there will be about five different beverages on offer: a mix of wine, beer, cider (depending on the courses), plus nonalcoholic options such as juices, teas, or infusions. There are two seatings per night, which start promptly at 5:30 and 8:30, Wednesday through Saturday.