Matt Dillon's bringing in a few ringers at Upper Bar Ferdinand.

Eli Dahlin made his mark in Seattle as Renee Erickson’s first chef de cuisine at The Walrus and the Carpenter though many will, forever and rightly, revere him as the guy behind the caesar salad sandwich at Damn the Weather.

This past July, Dahlin decamped for the chef job at Dame, a house of natural wines and adventurous seafood in Northeast Portland. Recently he returned to Seattle and has begun working for Matt Dillon at Upper Bar Ferdinand (another house of natural wines, no less).

 In proper Dillon fashion, Dahlin doesn’t have a title, or even a firmly defined role at the Chophouse Row restaurant; he and former Sitka and Spruce sous chef John Poole are basically there to relieve their boss of his recent schedule of running that tiny open kitchen mostly on his own. “I was just doing it solo and having fun,” says Dillon. “But I needed some help as farm season rolls around.” Side note: Dillon has all his restaurant employees pitch in at Old Chaser Farm, his property on Vashon Island. Upper Bar Ferdinand's been busy since garnering some James Beard attention earlier this year so I'm sure there's much to do.

Meanwhile, Dahlin is looking for a space where he might hold a weekly popup, with an underground restaurant feel that harkens back to popups' earlier days. Something that feels like a fun, casual "albeit nomadic" place to eat, he says, "rather than a high-reaching event." Stay tuned.

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