Saturday, March 31, 2012
Snippets from the food & drink scene
Deli: moving from "too weird" to "family friendly" ?
The rumor was circulating earlier this month that Park Place Deli was up for sale, a story that seemed all too likely. Over the past few months we'd been getting reports of strange and inappropriate behavior by the deli's staff, which apparently included their yelling at each other and sometimes at the customers. In fact the atmosphere in the place had apparently deteriorated to the point where at times it was, in the words of one former patron, "just too weird." The tense situation in the shop was compounded by stories, true or not, about the public behavior of owner John McCormick in the neighborhood. So the idea that he had decided to throw in the towel after five years of owning the place did not seem farfetched.
As it happens, however, Park Place Deli is not for sale. When we went in to check out the rumors we were met by a very friendly bunch of employees who reported that selling the store was under consideration "for about two hours." But in the end, McCormick apparently decided to counter the deli's growing Seinfeldesque reputation by bringing back some old hands and conjuring up a "family friendly" environment. Deli manager Nic Albice, in an email to us, confirms this scenario and reports that he himself had previously worked for John for three years, and other staffers are also former employees. "The Deli is not for sale and is here to stay," he says. "I plan on changing a few things, giving the Deli a little makeover and a revamped menu." Patrons should expect "the same great deli with a new look and feel."
[Owner John McCormick has responded to this posting. Click on "Comments" below to view his response.]
Kudos for MPC's Cormac Mahoney
Food & Wine Magazine named him as a "People's Best New Chef" nominee for the region. The chefs from only ten restaurants across the "Northwest & Pacific" were nominated by the magazine for what was an on-line beauty contest, where anyone could vote. The magazine's "regional" coupling of the Pacific Northwest with Hawaii is the first of its kind that we've seen--and in fact the winner turned out to be the one chef in the contest from Hawaii.
Nevertheless, the honor of the nomination is the thing. Here's part of what F&W had to say about Mahoney: "WHY HE’S AMAZING: Because his irreverent take on global cuisine is drawing crowds to Seattle’s tony Madison Park neighborhood."
Cafe Parco expanding seating
One of the great things about the old Madison Park Cafe was the fun of sitting outside on a warm, sunny day and enjoying the ambiance of Madison Park. Since Cafe Parco took over the space last year, however, there has yet to be a single day on which that finely balanced combination warmth and sun was just right for outdoor dining. We're sure that day will come.
In the meantime, Cafe Parco has embarked on an project to create a private dining room on the lower level of the building, where the restaurant had initially placed its racks of fine wines. Some MPB readers had asked us what exactly had happened to those prominently displayed bottles, and Cafe Parco's blog provided the answer. Manager Nic Norton, who is doing the remodel work himself, reports that the new space will be used for small parties, which cannot be easily accommodated upstairs. He also notes on the blog that lunch will be returning to the schedule April 11, though it will only be available on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The menu will be similar to the weekend brunch menu, he says.
In case you missed it, Cafe Parco, was the subject of a rather mixed two-star review in The Seattle Times last month.
Karen's next thing
And speaking of both Madison Park Cafe and wine bottles, Seattle Met Magazine reports that the Cafe's longtime owner, Karen Binder, is back from vacation and on to her next role as proprietor of wine shop Binder's Bottles. Its strictly an on-line affair where, according to the magazine, Karen states that patrons can get "anything they've tasted or seen in a shop or want me to find for them."
[Photo of Cormac Mahoney by Karen Loria, swiped from the Food & Wine website. Park Place Deli is located at 4122 E. Madison St.; Madison Park Conservatory is located at 1927 43rd Ave. E.; and Cafe Parco is located at 1807 42nd Avenue E.]