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Café to Café


Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar

After close to a month of remodeling, Seastar in Bellevue has reopened with a new look and some new menu items. According to owner John Howie, most entrees have stayed on the menu. The focus has been on adding some really interesting share items (although you'll want to keep most of them to yourself). Three crudos are on the lunch raw bar menu. We tried the albacore with heirloom tomato, shallots, EVOO, and micro basil (favorite!), and hamachi with strawberry, citrus vinaigrette, red jalapeno, and mint. The fish melts like butter; delicious.

A few new share items are the shrimp shumai (basically just shrimp and shitake mushroom) with a lovely dipping sauce; escolar with citrus Ponzu, garlic crisps, yuzu tobiko and scallion (the fish and garlic combination is perfect); Dungeness crab legs with brandy, garlic, butter, and lemon over puff pastry; Wagyu meatballs made with mushroom, foie gras infused veal demi; and Thai chicken with sa the marinade, lime, Thai pickles, sweet chili sauce and cilantro. One of John's favorites is the grilled Kalbi Sirloin with green papaya salad and macadamia nuts. A marinade on the steak strikes the perfect note.

The bar has new tables, a new counter top on the bar and the communal table, and an expanded raw bar with more seats around it (to better appreciate their new menu offerings). The back bar is all new. While the room looks larger, there is actually less space.

The dining room has new wood walls (even more gorgeous when you find out they're flooring), fish scale walls, and a new wine wall (photo above) that is the front piece for the actual wine room. No scrambling around looking for that mysterious bottle on the list, they're all right here within easy access. What's not in the dining room is one of the large ceiling lights. Without it, and with lighter wall paint, the room is much more open. That light has joined two others in the private dining area, making the space more dramatic.

Like any good remodel, the restaurant still feels like itself. Certain aspects, like the fish scale walls, stand out, but sometimes you have to be told what else is different (that's my excuse).

425-456-0010. 205 108th Ave NE, Bellevue.

Pablo y Pablo

A new spot by Heavy Restaurant Group, PYP is a long, narrow spot with an open kitchen, full bar, and picnic bench outdoor seating. The name is based on the friendship between Spanish painter Pablo Picasso and Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (a pen name). Food and drinks are influenced by the Latin world. Snacks include some pretty delicious guacamole and salsas (love that veered), grilled street corn, and more. Starters are great sharing items, like the tequila battered chicken with lemon aioli; heirloom tomatoes with picked fresco peppers, Oaxaca cheese, and basil; and classic or vegan nachos. An entire section of tacos awaits: grilled pineapple and bacon, spiced steak, charred broccoli, vegan chorizo, pork belly 'bah mi', fried soft shell crab and more. Large plates include chipotle braised chicken enchiladas, carne asana, and seared king salmon. There are sweets, too, so hold back a little.  (Photo: black bean soup)

Interesting cocktails include their house margarita which can be added to: strawberry and basil, papaya and jalapeño, or tamarind and ginger. There's a blood orange margarita, a pisco punch, cabernet and Jones cola, pineapple daiquiri, pomegranate caipirinha and numerous others. There are all kinds of tequila, mezcal, Latin spirits, local and well-known spirits, beer, and wine.

Just up the street from Gas Works park, it's a great spot to drop in after that exercise you promised yourself.

206-973-3505. 1605 N 34th Street, Seattle.

Metropolitan Grill

It's open! Renovations that began in June include enhancements to lighting, carpeting, woodwork, and operational improvements in the kitchen (happy staff, we're guessing). The Met reopened for dinner on Monday, August 14, but tweaks and finishing work will continue for a bit-not that guests will be aware as they dine on USDA prime from Washington state's Double R Ranch and American Wagyu from Snake River Farms, all hand-selected by Corporate Executive Chef Eric Hellner. They've developed proprietary seasonings for their beef; steaks are seared over high heat of imported mesquite charcoal-tender and juicy. The 60-foot black marble bar is still there, along with their specialty drink: Martinis. Time to get back to the Met!

206-624-3287. Second and Marion in downtown Seattle.

Next Level Burger

As America's first 100% plant-based burger joint, Next Level Burger is focused on giving all of us an option for healthier quick-food eating. After Matt and Cierra de Gruyter had their first child, Cierra went on a study and cooking binge to provide fresh and home-cooked meals for her family. That led to becoming a vegetarian, then moving to a fully plant-based diet. Matt followed suit after a bit of prodding and has never looked back. Where do you eat when you want to go out? They not only wanted a healthy, sustainable, and delicious spot the whole family could enjoy, but also a place that shared their belief about our responsibility toward our planet. Their restaurant careers had begun.

Veggie twists on classic burger joint favorites include a dozen burger combinations, frankfurter-style hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, and diner-style hand-spun, dairy-free milkshakes (coconut or soy soft serve base).

They opened their first location in Bend, Oregon, in 2014, then expanded to Portland and Lake Oswego. They will open their first Washington spot on August 25, inside the Whole Foods in Roosevelt Square, at the front of the market. They plan a national expansion, with more than 10 stores on the way and a North California location opening in late September (road trip!).

1026 NE 64th St.

Bakery Nouveau

The West Seattle opening of Bakery Nouveau in 2006 nearly caused riots (slightly overstated); people got there early and there were many sad stories of sold-out items and the emptiness it left in people's lives (slightly overstated-however, there was disappointment involved, along with great contentment when they were successful in their hunt for the perfect pastry or bread). In 2013, Chef William Leaman and CEO Heather Leaman opened a second location, this one on Capitol Hill. In September 2017, another neighborhood will be full of happy bakery customers. A flagship location will open in Burien. It will be open daily, selling pastries, breads, and cakes, plus some new items. They plan to expand their chocolate confectionery production, which was limited to cooler months when chocolate could be tempered properly. Burien will have a state-of-the-art space with no need to fight with Mother Nature.

The new space will have viewing areas into chocolate and baking spaces, plus seating for about 20 people, and an 80-square-foot deck outside. If you've got a hankering for croissants, macarons, tarts, cakes, house-made gelato, pizza, quiche, and sandwiches on Nouveau's artisan bread, they've got just the place for you.

426 SW 153rd St.

Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria

Mark your calendar so that sometime before September 3, you head to a Tutta Bella near you and dive into their Calabrese pizza. When Tutta Bella's Executive Chef Brian Gojdics was looking for pizza inspiration in Southern Italy, he realized the love of figs the Calabrese had. He remembered a presentation of figs he'd had where a fig was stuffed with goat cheese, baked to warm the cheese, wrapped with prosciutto, and drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar. That was the birth of Tutta Bella's Calabrese pizza. They run this special every year in fig season, and no more. Do not hesitate or you will be crying like the patrons of Bakery Nouveau when their favorite item has sold out.

Find the location nearest to you at

August/September 2017

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