This year: hair salon. Next year: majorly anticipated bakery Crumble and Flake.

The Internet masses will be slogging through a few more days of “year in review” posts/articles/tweets before 2011 makes its grand exit. Hence I’d like to take a minute to cast an eye toward the future and point out a few restaurants that have me counting the minutes until next year arrives.

Ethan Stowell’s fast casual undertaking
One of Seattle’s most accomplished (and delightfully sardonic) chefs is still working on a series of fast casual establishments under the name Grubb Brothers (along with wife Angela Stowell and business partner Chad Dale). The first joint to open its doors is likely to be Ballard Pizza Co. some time this spring. But the group’s restaurant plans also include steak frites, fried chicken, sandwiches, and more. Hence whatever spot becomes a reality first, chances are I’ll be waiting outside the front window, chanting “o-pen, o-pen, o-pen!” like the ladies in those ghastly old Mervyn’s ads. Hey, nobody accused me of having an active social life. Estimated open: Majorly TBD.

The return of Restaurant Zoe
There is some fast and furious buildout happening over at the former La Panzanella bakery, now home to Oola Distillery and soon Restaurant Zoe (also, Chinese restaurant Lucky 8). Scott Staples’s first restaurant is planning to reopen mid-January in its new Capitol Hill digs. It shouldn’t take a relocation to get diners excited about an enduring favorite. But, nonetheless…excitement. Estimated open: January.

Skelly and the Bean
Zephyr Paquette’s forthcoming Capitol Hill restaurant is many things: an incubator. A community space. An ambitious experiment in membership-based funding. So it’s easy to get sidetracked from the fact that Paquette is a pretty badass cook. And said badassery will be in effect Wednesday through Saturday, when Paquette will be in the kitchen and her multi-faceted space is a restaurant, plain and simple. Estimated opening: Late January or early February.

Crumble and Flake
Pastry chef Neil Robertson garnered a loyal following at Canlis, cemented it at MistralKitchen, and now he’s adding to the roster of great food and drink spots creeping down Olive Way. What’s currently a hair salon will soon become Crumble and Flake, a tiny shop that Robertson will fill with a takeout counter and whatever cream puffs, cookies, and croissaints he feels like conjuring up in the tiny shop’s kitchen. Estimated open: April-ish.

Queen of Ballard
Don’t get me wrong, I’m plenty interested in Manhattan Drugs, the Capitol Hill spot from Laura Olson and Chris Pardo, that’s probably opening in the very first days of 2012 (in other words, late next week). But the small plate Scandinavian restaurant the couple is planning over in Ballard puts an interesting spin on the neighborhood’s heritage and will be unlike any other place I can think of in town. Estimated open: January or February.