LA-born and bred, founder Avi Brosh's Palihotel is expanding with its first location outside of California right here in Seattle. It quietly opened this week. The neon glow of Pike Place Market's "Public Market" sign lingers within eyesight as the Palihotel's own neon radiance beams at 107 Pine Street. Old neon and new. Old Seattle and New Seattle. And yet the Palihotel thrives in the intersection of the two—at once a fresh arrival to the city with a decidedly lived-in, eclectic throwback feel (opening inside the historic Colonnade Hotel building helps) with black-and-white checkered floors, exposed wood beams and walls, and a hotel restaurant and bar with assured retro diner vibes: The Hart and the Hunter.
In 2013, the late, great Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold described The Hart and the Hunter's biscuits as such: "as light and delicate as the angel biscuits you sometimes find in the best Southern households, but also flaky at the extremities, and layered—they naturally separate into two or three finger-burning strata." In short, a divine biscuit. Neither dense nor obscene in size, the baked-to-order butter biscuits come in threes atop a wood board with quenelles of maple butter and pimento cheese ("the best pimento cheese I've had," I overheard someone say before they offered their southern bona fides as proof of authority), a dollop of jam, and a tiny mound of flake sea salt.
But the biscuits are only the beginning. The menu is roughly 70 percent Hart and the Hunter hits, 30 percent newness, says Palisociety executive chef Joey Elenterio, who imbued the Southern-verved menu with some Pacific Northwest additions, like sweet-and-spicy salmon jerky, smoked salmon board, and vegetarian, smoked mushroom barbecue sandwich, which was born from necessity when Elenterio received end-of-season chanterelles that had a pulled pork–like stringy texture. So he made lemonade out of lemons, or rather pulled pork out of mushrooms with vinegar, honey, and pickles. There are toasts aplenty, too. (Yes, one's avocado. Palisociety has LA origins, after all.) But then there's the carrot tartine: carrots and butter cooked sous vide so not one iota of flavor escapes. "I'm trying to make it our next avocado toast," says Elenterio. Chef de cuisine Jon Maley, one-time sous chef at Shaun McCrain's erstwhile Book Bindery who's since had various executive chef stints at private clubs in the state and his own popup ChucH, will run the Hart and the Hunter kitchen in Elenterio's stead.
The bar likewise delivers Pacific Northwest elements into the mostly classic lineup of cocktails. A moscow mule here, dubbed Hunter Buck, is of course made with Rachel's Ginger Beer and a mix of toasted spice blend infused into the vodka. There's also an interpretation of the Gibson, often described as the martini's second cousin, here made with Plymouth gin washed with oyster shells, white vermouth, fino sherry, and a few drops of bayleaf olive oil. "The delicate balance in terms of a hotel bar," says Dan Sabo, director of food and beverage for all Palisociety properties, "is that you still need to be extremely accessible...there's no pretense, we do really good versions of things that you know, but maybe there are some unexpected moments."
Never to be effed with in Seattle: our coffee. So, the Palihotel's teamed up with Anchorhead Coffee for their coffee bar and sidewalk-facing espresso window for hotel guests and passersby alike.
The Seattle opening is the first in a long lineup of some 10 Palihotel spinoffs into places like Miami and San Francisco.