October's onset tends to bring a flurry of new spots: summer’s done, and a fledgling bar or restaurant still has time to find its footing before holiday madness. But this weekend, Seattle welcomed a particularly impressive crop of newcomers, from Hokkaido-style soft serve to a Vietnamese cocktail hideaway.
Shubert Ho, the restaurateur who established Edmonds as a full-on food town (and gave us a destination-worthy lobster roll) has crossed city limits. Ho’s popular seafood cafe, the Market, now has a downtown location inside the Seattle Art Museum (and is the official caterer for all things SAM). Yes, the favorites are here—the chowder, the lobster or crab rolls, the fish and chips. But chef Gurkaran Chatha added some just-for-this-location dishes, like fish pakora. An inherited pizza oven pointed to putting baked oysters on the menu. The museum’s cafe space (the home of Taste SAM back in the day) offers takeout or counter service dine-in. A coffee and pastry program happens in the morning; Ho says Market’s popular breakfast sandwich will make an appearance once staffing allows. A full bar kicks in once the liquor license comes through, giving downtown another versatile spot, open Wednesday through Sunday 11–8. Downtown
Yoroshiku, the Wallingford izakaya with a focus on Hokkaido specialties, just embraced the island’s soft serve reputation. Owner Keisuke Kobayashi turned a counter by the entrance into Indigo Cow, which he proclaims as America’s first Hokkaido-style soft serve shop. Kobayashi’s native prefecture is known for its rich, sweet-flavored milk; this industry gave rise to a culture of soft serve that’s thicker and more plush than most of what you find in the states. Indigo Cow procures its soft serve mix (whole milk, fresh cream, condensed milk) from Hokkaido and serves swirls so thick they almost summon visions of pudding. The window offers just the classic cream flavor, but spruces it up with fruit syrup, some Theo chocolate magic “wall” (more crunchy chocolate fencing than actual shell), or brown sugar with boba and barley powder. Soft serve happens by cup or cone, Wednesday through Monday from 3–9pm. UPDATE: Crowds have turned out big time for this soft serve, and the shop does just 300 servings a day. Plan accordingly. Wallingford
Pho Bac’s downtown location quietly opened the oversize shutters to the cocktail bar hidden on the mezzanine. This dark and moody little pocket serves careful cocktails with a Vietnamese bent: Iwai Japanese whiskey gets a pho fat wash; cynar meets artichoke tea and pandan; aquavit and chartreuse boozify a ca phe trung. It’s already an exceedingly pleasant place to have a drink, though co-owners Yenvy and Quynh Pham are still plotting some aesthetic elements, like a wall of climbing jasmine and herbs. These will add to the Viet-style treehouse vibe they’re after, but also service bar manager Katharine Frazier's cocktails (a phonetic pronunciation guide helps non-Viet speakers order sans embarrassment). The snack list is short, but rich in pate, and the wine and beer options are absolutely worth exploring once you make your way through the cocktails. Denny Regrade
The former RN74 has a meaty new persona and a softer, tufted leather upholstery vibe. Michael Mina, the Ellensburg native turned SF-based restaurateur, transitioned this space into the seventh location of his Bourbon Steak concept. The butter-poached cuts of beef come with the decadent sides you’d expect (truffle mac and cheese and lobster pot pie are company signatures) but chef Adam Reece is a Hood Canal native, thus serious about shellfish platters. It feels nice to have this space at Fourth and Pike active once again (with valet parking, even). The restaurant also carries on RN74’s tradition of taking its happy hour menu seriously. Downtown