Thursday, September 11, 2014

Art Walk returns tomorrow

It's become a summer tradition in Madison Park for area artists to display their work in neighborhood businesses as the season draws to a close.  This year is no different, with Art Walk scheduled to begin tomorrow evening and run through September 28.  A total of 30 Madison Park businesses will be participating, with the walk running down Madison all the way from Starbucks to Park Bench Gifts.  The full line up of participating businesses and artists can be found here

The excitement begins with a reception at Starbucks beginning at 6 pm on Friday.

[Upper photo: art of Brooke Westlund; lower photo: art of Arthur Pasette]

Friday, September 5, 2014

Restaurants set to debut

Two openings in September

Madison Park’s cuisine scene will be broadened this month as two new eateries open their doors.  Taking the place of Madison Park Conservatory at 1927 43rd Avenue E. will be the Beach House Bar & Grill, owned by Chef Ricky Eng and his wife, Maria, who are the proprietors of a successful restaurant of the same name in Kirkland.  The original Beach House, which first opened on the eastside five years ago, features “gourmet American” food, such as grilled steak salad, buttermilk fried chicken, and seared yellow fin tuna. The restaurant’s full dinner/lunch/brunch menus are available here.

The Madison Park version of the Beach House will be about 80% the same as the Kirkland’s, according to Ricky Eng, at least in terms of cuisine.  In Madison Park, however, Eng will be able to take advantage of the wood-fired oven left by Madison Park Conservatory.  That means that some new signature steaks and appetizers, at a minimum, can be added to the restaurant’s repertoire, says Eng.

The Beach House will offer “comfort food with a twist.” While everything won’t be organic, the dishes will be as all-natural as possible, and the menu will emphasize locally sourced ingredients (meaning within the Pacific Northwest). There will also be a “healthy” kids’ menu.

Renovation of the MPC space has been underway for several weeks. The revamped space will have new light fixtures, new hardwood floors downstairs (replacing tile) and new tables and chairs, including the addition of downstairs banquette seating.

The timetable for the Beach House’s opening is mid-month.

Meanwhile, further up the street at the old Mad Pizza location (4021 E. Madison), a new Vietnamese restaurant will be making its debut near the end of the month. Bella Viet Café is the first restaurant for owner/operator Tani Phan, whose background in the restaurant business includes many years at various Thai restaurants in the area.  She and her business partner, Elena Vo, needed to gut the Mad Pizza space, which was less than pristine after the long-time tenant pizza purveyor moved out. The new restaurant will feature all-new bathrooms, kitchen, and dining room.  It will seat 20, with additional seating outside (perhaps two or three tables) when the weather’s decent.  Of course there will be a take-out menu.

Phan says that her focus is going to be on fresh, high-quality Vietnamese fare, though not necessarily in the traditional style. Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) will be a feature, with five varieties slated for the initial menu.  Phan says that Bella Viet Café’s Pho will be distinguished from that of many other Vietnamese restaurants in that no frozen broth will ever be used its preparation.

Among the other items on the menu will be sandwiches, including lemongrass marinated beef and Trio Ham, and salad selections such as fresh lotus root shrimp salad.  Fresh rolls, spring rolls, pork skewer, crispy wings, and garlic edamame round out the initial menu, which will change with the seasons.  There will be multiple vegan selections as well.

We’ll have more to share about both restaurants, including the exact opening dates, as we move further into the month.  Stay tuned.

[Photos courtesy of Beach House Bar & Grill.]

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cafe Parco closes

Chef Celinda calls it quits

The restaurant business is a tough one, and the Madison Park audience doesn't make the situation any easier for a restauranteur.  After almost three years of struggle to hit the right notes, chef/proprietor Celinda Norton has decided to give it up. In an email to patrons sent early this morning, Norton writes "the time has come to bid you a farewell...Despite working seven days a week, since 2011, cooking every meal myself, the business continues to be ‘economically challenged’. It is time to seek other avenues to satisfy my need to create great food."

As Madison Park's only Italian restaurant, Cafe Parco occupied the space that for many years housed Karen Binder's French-themed Madison Park Cafe (1807 42nd Avenue E.).  Binder is the property's landlord and will again have the task of finding a tenant, as she did after closing her own restaurant three years ago. The onetime private residence is difficult space for a restaurant to operate in because it has a very small kitchen (which is in need of renovation) and limited interior seating, among other factors.

It is always sad to see a neighborhood business fail, sad for both the business's patrons and for the many of us who care about maintaining a 'critical mass' within the Village's business community.  We wish the hard-working Chef Celinda and her son, Nic, well in whatever their futures hold.

Seeing Cafe Parco close, however, reminds us of the old adage, "When one door closes, another opens."  Ironically, our intended posting today was about the two new neighborhood restaurants that plan to open their doors later this month.

We'll have the details tomorrow.

[Photo by S. Pratt for Seattle Eater.]