After 18 dark and quiet months at Fourth and Pike, the former home of RN74 is a restaurant once again. Michael Mina converted his former wine-focused spot in the Joshua Green Building into the seventh location of his Bourbon Steak concept. Doors open, officially, on October 1.
RN74 closed at the onset of the pandemic, its downtown location not conducive to takeout. Meanwhile, says Mina, the restaurant was originally built around his former wine director Rajat Parr. Over the years, Parr shifted his focus into winemaking; the San Francisco RN74 closed in 2017.
Mina figured Bourbon Steak had “a similar level of product and technique,” that would appeal to previous regulars, but some brand recognition to hopefully bring new diners downtown. “It’s not like we’ve gone in a direction the old RN74 guests wouldn’t come back to,” he says.
As the name implies, Bourbon Steak centers its menu on cuts of beef. They receive what amounts to a long, low-temperature poach in clarified butter and herbs before they hit a 900-degree grill. The menu will have “an enormous amount” of Washington beef, says Mina, plus some Japanese Wagyu. Certain signature dishes—the lobster pot pie, the truffle mac and cheese—will appear here. But chef Adam Reece oversees sources from local farms and purveyors. Reece, who came over from the Lotte Hotel, grew up in Hood Canal, and is a guy who takes his shellfish seriously. Bourbon Steak will serve chilled crab and oysters, but also a shellfish platter brushed with miso and espelette butter, then broiled in a charcoal oven.
RN74 opened in 2011, a symbolic homecoming for Mina, a Michelin-starred restaurateur who grew up in Ellensburg. Back then, Seattle had a weird track record with out-of-town restaurateurs; even the glitziest, most promising projects didn’t seem to last long. (Wow, that truism sure doesn't hold up in 2021.) Mina leaned into his Washington roots to buck that trend; RN74 remained reliably excellent over the years, charting a distinct path from its San Francisco mothership.
A shuttered restaurant is nobody’s best case scenario, but at the very least it offered a chance to rebuild the interior without disrupting customers, says Mina. “Honestly, it probably enabled us to do a better job with the design.”
As Bourbon Steak, the space has a softer, less industrial look—more carpet, more velvet upholstery, more privacy for the private dining area in back. The bar stayed in its original location, the lounge that became the heart of RN74 remains its previous size. Alas, the European-style train sign that clacked wine list announcements is no more. "It's in storage," says Mina. "You never know."