On January 14, two and a half years after opening, Scout—the locally focused restaurant inside downtown luxury hotel Thompson Seattle—closed for a “complete redesign and rebrand.” Originally part of the massive expansion effort of Josh Henderson's Huxley Wallace Collective, last year Scout moved under Thompson's control as the restaurant group broke apart.
Today, Thompson and executive chef Derek Simcik announced the new concept. The restaurant is called Conversation, and its goal, from service to food to design, is to offer an escape from digital life, or as the press release puts it: “In this digital era where text messaging and screen swiping threaten the allure of face-to-face quality time, Conversation intends to create an environment where human connection takes priority.”
For the design, this new goal meant enlisting Rebel House, a firm out of Chicago that has specialized in residential design—a move Simcik says was intentional, to make Conversation feel like you’re walking into someone’s home. They’re also playing with the idea of having someone come around and gather people’s phones and lock them away for the duration of dinner. “I guess you could call it a tableside phone valet,” says Simcik.
Simcik intends to draw on his international upbringing to tell his story through the food. His dad was in the CIA, so Simcik was born in Greece and raised in Germany, France, England, the Netherlands, China, and Japan. He’ll augment the globe-trotting flavor profiles with modernist techniques. There will be “soils” (edible dirt made from foodstuffs), for example, and a foie gras dish with a counterintuitive texture: “light, airy, cold.” The various influences will come together in dishes like lamb en croute with spring peas, tsukemono pickles, and crispy prosciutto—a blend of French (lamb en croute), Japanese (tsukemono), and modernist techniques (the peas will come in various textures, including freeze-dried).
Food will still be served throughout the day: 7am–10pm Monday through Friday, and 8am–10pm on weekends. And while Scout’s tasting menu will not return, at least initially, Simcik hopes to bring in an option eventually. “It could be on the menu like—pun definitely intended—let the chef talk to you. And it's almost like omakase.”
Currently, Thompson plans to open the restaurant on May 1.