The moment before a restaurant's first-ever debut is mostly storm, some calm. It's twenty minutes until Restaurant Homer's door opens on September 19. Sara Knowles is doing a final sweep; literally, she's taking a broom to every walkable space on the dining room floor. Then she's gone. And she's back again, from somewhere, bringing out greenery and simple florals in glass vases, artfully tucking them around the light-filled room. Meanwhile chefs put the fire on—one under an open grill, another in the big hand-built hearth oven—and Logan Cox is convening with his cooks, then meditatively adjusting some of his mise en place behind the chef's counter, which is in a way karmic considering the space was a former yoga studio.
Along Beacon Avenue South, Restaurant Homer was a true blank slate until Knowles applied her interior design background and turned the studio into a place that, she hopes, evokes dinner party vibes or the coziness of one's living room—families, couples on dates, every possible dining scenario seems perfectly fitting. It's a fun neighborhood spot without pretension. "Take food seriously, not ourselves," Cox says.
Five minutes left. Bartenders are checking glassware...one minute to go. It's five o'clock. "Are we doing this?" Knowles ask-yells, exchanging looks with Cox and their general manager Suli. With what could only be described as a team squeal, the door swings open to some 20 folks already waiting out front. By 5:15 the whole restaurant was nearly full, buzzing with chatter and funk music. People were perched at the marble counter facing the open kitchen where Cox and his crew were administering smoke and char and flavors that take inspiration from the Mediterranean and Middle East with a Pacific Northwest point of view: lamb ribs with pistachio, plums and cumin; stewed summer peppers with elderberries and labneh; grilled squid with cumin, peanuts, and squash tzatziki. Take food seriously, indeed. Pita bread from the oven come lightly charred, but so warm you could crawl into its pocket and live there. Better to stuff it with a puree of charred eggplant with sunflower seeds and chiles.
Drinks mean a curated list of beer and wine, including a handful of fortified wines, mostly hailing from Spain. Cocktails are likewise few, but lovely, like an angostura daiquiri that's shaken and served up in a cut glass coupe. (From behind the six-seat marble bartop, barman Jared will set you right.) There's also an intriguing whey and cucumber soda for those in search of something sans booze.
For dessert there could be a pistachio rice pudding, a cookie warm from the oven, or soft serve, which right now is a tangy vegan nectarine or coconutlike fig leaf flavor. If it's just a cone or cup you desire, the sidewalk-facing soft serve walkup window is open for any sweet tooth needs.
When I first spoke with Cox back in 2017, last June, he and Knowles didn't even have a restaurant name. It was a running staff joke to put up all the press anticipating Homer's eventual, someday open. But now that their dream's realized in white tiles, ostrich wallpaper, and wood-fired food, it's very real. "I'm half amazed, half asking why," Knowles says before she ducks away one more time, but surely not the last time.
Dinner is Wednesday through Sunday, 5 to 10, with brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 until 2. Reservations are taken for just groups six or more, for now, as they get their sea restaurant legs at 3013 Beacon Avenue South.