Since opening Lark in 2003, John Sundstrom has quietly charmed increasingly savvy diners for more than a decade (while winning a James Beard award and writing a beautiful cookbook along the way). Now Sundstrom and his partners are planning a new restaurant less than a five minute walk from Lark.
Details are limited at this point, but Sundstrom was nice enough to respond to my pestering and confirm that he has big plans for a building at 1132 Broadway Court, right behind the Garage billiards hall. A previously forgettable Auto Row-era structure, now known as the Central Agency Building, is receiving a massive overhaul courtesy of some Capitol Hill stalwarts, and Sundstrom will be the major occupant.
The chef says he’s a month or two away from sharing a name or all-important menu details for the 40-seat dining area on the main floor. But up on the mezzanine you’ll find a casual 50-communal-seat cocktail and raw bar area serving oysters, shellfish, sashimi and—at the other end of the preparation spectrum—charcuterie and what the chef promises to "Seattle's best selection of jamon and prosciutto."
Just inside the lobby of the building, Sundstrom will also operate a little sandwich shop that will ply the people of Capitol Hill with breakfast and lunch creations, espresso, slab pie(!), beer, wine, salumi, and good cheese.
Come at the building from the Pike/Pine direction and it seems hidden. But now that I know to look for it, the address is highly visible from Madison and, according to Sundstrom, a quick shortcut through the Seattle U campus. It's also shaping up to be stunning.
Other details firmed up at this point: The main dining area will serve dinner every night and (unlike Lark) lunch on weekdays and Saturday and Sunday brunch. The bar will seat 16 people and a semi-private room can hold up to 20, while a private dining room in the basement will do sit-down dinners for as many as 60 people, receptions for groups as large as 80, and all the audio-visual whizbangs necessary for meetings. Sundstrom predicts a July 2014 opening, though obviously that's subject to change.
Sundstrom is having a good year. The chef-owner of Lark won an IACP award this weekend for his Lark - Cooking Against the Grain cookbook. And we will find out on Tuesday whether he advances from semifinalist to full-on nominee for the James Beard award for Outstanding Chef. His partners in the venture are the same as Lark: His wife JM Enos, who will manage the cafe and oversee lunch service, and Kelly Ronan—just as much a fixture at Lark as the chef himself—will expand her GM role to the new spot.
Capitol Hill Seattle blog has written about the building's backstory, and developer Jerry Everard says that the building's other two spaces are still being finalized. This building, the Chophouse Row development taking shape around the corner, and some very cool occupants destined for the wedge-shaped building two blocks east at 11th and Madison are positioning this little pocket of Capitol Hill as a major restaurant story of 2014.