One of my favorite new restaurants is getting into the (creatively named) happy hour game. However chef Charles Walpole of Blind Pig Bistro says his forthcoming hour of happiness is more of a culinary workshop for the kitchen. Hence they’re calling it “atelier.”
Walpole promises “more experimental, more spontaneous cooking.” From 5 to 6pm on Sunday through Thursday, stop in to the Eastlake restaurant (former home to Nettletown and Sitka and Spruce) and the kitchen will turn out some $5 chef’s choice plates for you. There’s no menu for atelier. No plan either. Just tell the staff if you have any allergies, or foods that you really hate. Walpole and his kitchen will then go to town, devising dishes on the fly. It’s a way to challenge themselves, plus bring in people earlier in the evening. “We treat it like a little open house for the restaurant,” says Walpole.
Blind Pig’s atelier begins June 5. The hour also involves $5 wines and, says Walpole “some cheap beers.” He’s not kidding, either—right now it’s cans of Tecate.
Granted, dining here usually feels like eating in a chef’s workshop. The chalkboard menu of small, share-perfect plates is all about combinations like Manila clams with bacon and barley, or pork belly with braised cabbage, that feel like they might have been conceived on the fly…by someone with a ridiculously good palate.
Right now Walpole is sharing Blind Pig’s tiny kitchen with Manu Alfau, who was his sous chef back when Anchovies and Olives opened, as well as Jeremiah del Sol and Kylen McCarthy, both formerly of Marjorie and Harvest Vine.
If stuffing your face is more your thing, a table of diners can also order the entire menu to share at a discounted price. The total changes daily with the ingredients, though recently such a feat ran you $125.