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First Look: Golden Beetle in Ballard

Get a sneak peek of the bold new Ballard project from Tilth chef Maria Hines.

By Jessica Voelker February 14, 2011

 

A chef trained at some of the fanciest restaurants in the world, James Beard award-touting Maria Hines made a reputation for herself cooking elegantly simple, pure-flavor-promoting food at Tilth, her organic eatery in Wallingford.

When she opens her second restaurant, Golden Beetle, this Friday in Ballard, she’ll become associated with an entirely different sort of food: boldly spiced dishes inspired by Eastern Mediterranean street food.

“I spent some time in Morocco ten years ago,” Hines told me last week when I dropped by the nearly complete restaurant, “which is kind of what kick-started my love for street food from that area.” When it came time to open a second restaurant, “it was pretty quickly formulated in mind. But I didn’t want to open up a restaurant based off of research out of cookbooks. I wanted to go and be on the street tasting the food.”

So a few months ago she and her friend Frank Huster, a photographer whose photos of the trip now line the restaurant’s walls (see slideshow for details), set out to soak up the region. They traveled to Cairo, Istanbul, and Beirut among other cities, meeting street vendors who created inspiring eats composed in tiny nooks or atop ancient carts pushed down cobblestone streets.

“There’s a soulfulness about this kind of food,” said Hines. “Tilth is minimalist and restrained and the flavors are really clean. [At Golden Beetle] the food is big, bold, and spicy. I’m definitely comfortable having a broad range.”

Tilth alum Forrest Brunton will be chef de cuisine at Golden Beetle, and Hines will split her time between the two restaurants. Expect, among the dishes, lamb kibbeh fried in beef fat, turkey doner kebabs, and lamb tagine with green olive, cauliflower, and couscous. You can click on the slideshow above for a tour of the restaurant and more details, and read about the restaurant’s bar and happy hours here.

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