The signage still says Chippy's, but on Thursday, March 3, Ethan and Angela Stowell's former fish and chips bar reopens softly as its new persona, Marine Hardware. Between the small dining room, the tasting menu options, and the promise of Ethan Stowell himself in the kitchen, Marine Hardware sounds a bit like Noyer, the four-table fine dining concept the restaurateur once envisioned opening in Madrona (and still might open a few years down the road).
Sort of, says Stowell. "It's not going to be fancy, but some high-end ingredients served in a casual way. It's meant to be fun, not fine dining."
Marine Hardware will have a 10-ish item a la carte menu, plus two tasting menus: four courses for $50 a person, or six courses for $80 a person. Stowell says going the tasting menu route helps keep prices reasonable, even when working with ingredients like foie gras or truffles.
Chippy's was busy in the summer months, but quiet during the winter, the chef says; spending half the year in cost-cutting mode wasn't great for morale. And he wanted a place where he could cook on the regular, though the kitchen at Marine Hardware is run by Michael Gifford, who cooked with Stowell back at his first restaurant, Union, and spent a few years at How to Cook a Wolf before opening Stowell's gastropub, Bramling Cross. "He went to Bramling and realized he likes to work in small kitchens," says Stowell, who plans to write the menus and join Gifford in that small kitchen, at least occasionally.
"I'm there as a line cook," says Stowell. "And eye candy." He's kidding (mostly) about that last part, though he will be chatting up the occupants of the dining room's 26 seats. The chef doesn't have a regular schedule for his nights at Marine Hardware ("some weeks it could be three nights, some weeks it might be zero"), but rabid Stowell fans can call the restaurant and ask to make a reservation on a night when he's in the house.
The tasting menus come with some flexibility toward dietary restrictions and drink pairings. Diners who share bottles or quartinos of wine will likely get the same dishes; parties drinking different different things might get different dishes to eat. Marine Hardware will be open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner, and presumably make an appearance on the Ethan Stowell Restaurants website soon.