Cafe Flora’s new airport spinoff, Floret, opens Tuesday, in a high-ceilinged space full of windows, its botanical decor a clue that this is a place for plant-based dining.
When owner Nat Stratton-Clarke announced plans to translate Seattle's beloved plant-based restaurant into a Sea-Tac setting, it got lots of attention. High quality airport food is still relatively new. Hearty, mindful, enjoyable vegetarian pre-flight fare? That's almost revolutionary.
Floret, located between the A and B terminals, next to the Delta lounge, has plenty of familiar dishes from Cafe Flora, from the Oaxaca tacos to the cinnamon rolls, even the custom-shaped pancakes on the kids menu ("I'm sure we're going to be making a lot of airplane-shaped pancakes," says Stratton-Clarke.) But he and chef Bernadette Biela had to tackle some new airport-specific challenges, like the grab-and-go food that's central to Sea-Tac's food offerings. While Cafe Flora hasn't jumped on the grain bowl bandwagon, these healthy-trendy composites make perfect sense in an airport setting, says Stratton-Clarke: "It's contained, you get a lot of flavor and protein, plus that nice fresh crunch in there from different vegetables." Portable breakfast is also a big deal in an airport with so many morning flights. Enter a line of new breakfast sandwiches, like a buttermilk biscuit with fried egg, cheddar, caramelized onion, and tomato jam—even a gluten-free biscuit if desired. Here's the full menu; bring on the pimento grilled cheese bites and superfood salad.
For all those meals designed to stash in your bag until takeoff, Floret is no compact walkup counter. It's a full-service restaurant with a bar that serves as lovely a cocktail as you'd find anywhere on Pike/Pine. Cafe Flora was about the last restaurant I'd guess would open at the airport, much less in a whopping 80-seat space, but it does seem a natural fit for Sea-Tac's two biggest sit-down dining constituencies—families and frequent business travelers who can't handle another round of fast food.
Less than half the diners at Floret's lovely Madison Valley mothership are actually vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free, says Stratton-Clark. He expects the same here. So while the whole "good vegetarian food at the airport" aspect gets most of the buzz, this broad, plant-loving menu will put some of our region's best small-scale producers on display for the millions of travelers who pass through Sea-Tac each year. Floret is the first place in the airport to serve Rachel's Ginger Beer and Mystic Kombucha, both on tap, and the menu draws on local names like Fran's Chocolates and Girl Meets Dirt, maker of marvelous preserves in the San Juans. Of critical importance to all those morning travelers: A pair of La Marzocco espresso machines, coated a custom forest green, will dispense Stumptown coffee.
Setting up a host of tiny purveyors to deliver to an airport more accustomed to large foodservice companies was no joke. But the hassle should pay off, says Stratton-Clarke, in giving places like Whistling Train farm in Kent or the three-person operation at Island Springs Organics, a Vashon Island tofu maker, a guaranteed stream of steady business, and hopefully a chance to grow.
But for now, though, Floret will open at 5am daily (sit-down breakfast begins at 6) and serve food until 10pm. Peep the salads (and the cool tile) on its Instagram account.