Perfecte Rocher and Alia Zaine opened their restaurant, Tarsan i Jane, back in the spring of 2016. Zaine, who runs the front of house, brought years of wisdom from her LA restaurant days, while Rocher, hailing from Spain, grew up in two generations of family restaurants; the chef later logged many stints in Michelin-starred institutions and opened a Valencian place in LA. Even with the couples' experienced backgrounds, opening a new restaurant shortly after moving to a new city is a pretty tall order.
"My husband and I just moved [to Seattle] because we wanted to live here," says Zaine. "We had no idea we were going to open this space." But the opportunity presented itself almost immediately, which meant slowly introducing diners to what Tarsan i Jane is and could be.
And with that, Tarsan i Jane has gone through somewhat of a metamorphosis.
As of this month, the restaurant, which is set between Fremont and Ballard (colloquially dubbed Frelard), begins its new phase. After quite the remodel the restaurant hardly looks as it once did, says Zaine. Before there were 65 dining room seats, now there's a long arching chef's table with room for 10 that stretches the length of the kitchen, a private dining space for four people, a lounge for pre- or post-dinner libations, and a wine room for their newly appointed sommelier, Susana Barros, a veteran of the somm world who plans to expand the wine list with "unique and natural wines."
When Tarsan i Jane opened, Rocher expressed his culinary visions with adept modernist touches and slight nods to his Valencian roots through five-, seven-, and nine-course prix fixe menus. But rather than lean further into any sort of casual concept, perhaps last year's prevailing theme (see one of Seattle Met's Best Restaurants 2017: Adana), the restaurant's doing away with that, ahem, shorter setup and shifting into ever-finer territory.
Now expect 12 courses ($185 per person)—though you can always add more and supplement with drink pairings and jamón ibérico—at the chef's counter, which is actually a low table so you're not perched atop stools, good for groups of one to 10. "It's almost like going to the theater," explains Zaine. Everyone is seated at the same time, there's an introduction, a story behind each course. It's a more immersive affair that Rocher and Zaine have wanted to do since the beginning. In Rocher's hands, dishes remain attuned to the seasons and the Pacific Northwest bounty, with which he consults someone in the forestry department at the University of Washington to tap into their knowledge of native flora and wild ingredients.
Sundays are for paella. At the counter, in the private room, or in the garden, paella abounds after a five-course tasting menu ($75). Again, you can always add more, like an array of Valencian picadetes, or snacks, to precede the meal.
Dinner is Thursday through Sunday with the first seating at 6. See the Tarsan i Jane website for more details on how everything truly breaks down.