Critic's Notebook

Jason Wilson and El Gaucho to Partner

Can you say “match-made-in-heaven”?

By Kathryn Robinson February 2, 2017


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Jason Wilson, at Miller's Guild.

Image: Olivia Brent

This week came news that luxury local surf-n-turf chain El Gaucho Hospitality (El Gaucho, Aqua by El Gaucho) will partner with chef and restaurateur Jason Wilson (late of Crush, now of Miller’s Guild) to influence the El Gaucho menus and collaborate on upcoming properties, The Lakehouse (modern Northwest farm-to-table) and Civility and Unrest (speakeasy style cocktails), to open at Bellevue’s W Hotel this summer.

It’s a partnership—not a merger, spokespeople hasten to clarify; Wilson, who has a James Beard award in his pocket after all, will continue to own and drive the culinary program for Miller’s Guild, along with both new Bellevue properties. He will also “put his innovative touch” on El Gaucho’s menus—bastions of spendy old-school meat-and-potatoes-(and-lobster) fare that could use a little pulling into the current century.

And what will El Gaucho bring to Wilson’s properties? “A culture of service,” says the press release, which spokespeople define as back- and front-of-house operations, short of culinary vision.

El Gaucho and Jason Wilson have a lot in common: both are ambitious, determinedly upscale, and devoted to serving a market that’s never been huge in this town: spendy/swanky. This El Gaucho has done by positioning itself as splurge night for regular folks, while Wilson has done it by aiming for a more rarefied food connoisseur. His most recent turn as a hotel restaurant chef at the steakhouse Miller's Guild, however, suggests a more populist style may be in his wheelhouse.

Stay tuned to see where the Lakehouse—also in a hotel—lands.

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