Two of South Lake Unions latest, but not certainly not the last, restaurant and bar combo spaces arrived in late February. Edison bulbs burn in gilded chandeliers. The walls are high and painted black, ready to turn the place intimate and candlelit when the sun goes down, and a disco ball spins overhead during Friday happy hour, spitting lonesome beams of light, all of which give the space a weird moodlessness: even though it’s packed, its bustle feels transient—lodged somewhere between cafe and lounge. Gold Bar, and its sibling lunch spot, Oro’s Kitchen, is co-owned by Manu Alfau, owner of Manu’s Bodega in Pioneer Square, and those same Latin flavors predominate both on the menu: empanadas, “avocado mash,” yucca fries, shrimp ceviche, and tacos. The tacos, which have their own section of the menu, are fine, $6 for a pair, which add up to three to four bites each. They arrive in cardboard tray and their shells are pleasantly greasy.
Chef Hiro Tawara opened his kaiseki restaurant on March 28 in the Denny Regrade (née Belltown), where the art of meticulously coursed Japanese cuisine takes over a space once dedicated to Taco Del Mar burritos. Tawara's modern Northwest kaiseki menu changes with the seasons, but its opening offerings included a delicate clam suimono soup, a sushi course—putting his years working at Sushi Kappo Tamura and Shiro's Sushi to good use, a dish of braised Pacific oysters, glazed fried rice balls with king crab, Kagoshima A5 Wagyu beef with quail eggs, and black sesame seed ice cream with a rolled yuzu cream cheese cake. Choose between the premium kaiseki option (starts at $100, chef's counter only) or the mini kaiseki option (a choice of five different dishes, $60, dining room).
Rob Sevcik spent years as Thierry Rautureau’s trusted lieutenant before striking out on his own in this elegant gray-toned dining room in Madison Valley. As the name implies, small plates are the heart of Petite Galerie’s dinner menu. The menu’s four sections (land, sea, earth, and heaven, aka dessert) change often, but might include seared scallops with sweet pea flan, wagyu coulotte with a gratin of cambozola cheese, or a fancy take on garlic bread. Lunch is a more straightforward—and fantastic—lineup of soups, salads, and sandwiches for the neighborhood.
The handsome new restaurant inside the recently revamped Hotel Theodore is a handy downtown destination for late-night negronis, some perfectly grilled seasonal rockfish before the theater, or just a glass of Washington wine and an ocean-leaning snack, like slices of Sea Wolf bread heaped with coconut- and fennel-rich crabmeat. Rider’s prices reflect both its hotel location and the carefully sourced proteins, but the happy hour menu runs the gamut from shaved kohlrabi salad to crisp, herb-dusted fries.