The spot that once held Tray Kitchen is soon to open as Tarsan i Jane, an entirely wood- and coal-fired restaurant focusing on the regionally specific cuisine of Catalonia and Valencia, Spain. Perfecte Rocher and Alia Zaine, having moved to Seattle about a month ago, are the minds behind the venture.
The couple moved here from Los Angeles, drawn to Seattle's proximity to nature and openness to new ideas, for which Rocher dubs Seattle the "Scandinavia of the United States." They had plans to hold pop-ups—which they did, at Elm Coffee Roasters and Sitka and Spruce—and work toward opening a restaurant of their own.
While planning pop-ups, Zaine and Rocher approached Heong Soon Park of Tray kitchen about using his space and he did them one better, offering to sell them his restaurant. When I spoke to them Monday, they said they were shaking with excitement, having just gotten their 11-foot wood-fired grill installed. "Thirty days to open a restaurant is a crazy timeline," Zaine acknowledged with a laugh.
When Tarsan i Jane opens (hopefully Friday, May 6, though liquor license is still pending) the restaurant will serve dinner Thursday through Saturday from 5–10pm. There will be an a la carte menu as well as a four-course prix-fixe, with dishes like pastenaga—carrots with fermented garlic and crispy kale—and gamba roja: Valencian large red prawns and smoked creme fraiche. There's also a dish known as Rosita—woodfire-baked rice with pork belly and ribs, house made sausage, tomato, and chickpea that was a specialty of Rocher's grandmother Rosita.
Sundays, from 11am–3pm, will be devoted to paella, featuring a five-course family-style meal. Come June, Rocher will man the grill out on the patio, focusing on housemade sausages and serving beer, cocktails, and wine.
Rocher, who hails from Valencia, wants to be clear that the food is not Spanish, it is distinctly Valencian and Catalonian—regions in the northeast of the country with their own climate, geography, and language. He worked at Gary Danko in San Francisco and Picasso in Las Vegas, and trained at El Bulli in Spain before opening his own restaurant in Los Angeles, Smoke.Oil.Salt. Zaine grew up in Los Angeles, mastering whole animal butchery at places like Bestia in LA; she'll be running the front of house at Tarsan i Jane.
The new occupant of the farmhouse-styled space at 4012 Leary Way NW is named after Rocher's grandfather, a shepherd nicknamed Tarsan for his long hair and beard who began selling paella to truck drivers along his shepherding route in the mountains in Spain and eventually grew his small operation into a destination restaurant.
While the food is specific to a region, the wine list is broadly Spanish—Rocher estimates 35-38 different bottles at the moment—except one Riesling from Germany because, "its not too sweet and its amazing." The bar program will also feature variations on gin and tonics, the Basque Kalimotxo (coke and red wine) and Sang de Michelle ("sang" meaning blood in Catalan, its a fusion between a bloody mary and a michelada).
On days when the restaurant doesn't open for dinner, Rocher and Zaine will hold classes on everything from wine tasting to techniques used in molecular gastronomy. Their website is up and you can follow them on Instagram and Twitter to check in on progress.