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Café to Café



Elevated dining without the fuss

Fine dining brings to mind high-end food and beverage, white linens, an attentive wait staff, and probably sticker shock when the bill arrives. When that's what you want, it can be a wonderful event. When you're looking for something between mid-and high-end, where do you go? Copine may be your new spot.

Chef/Owner Shaun McCain and partner/wife Jill Kinney, front of the house, offer that elusive experience at their Ballard restaurant Copine. Refined food, attentive yet friendly service, a relaxed atmosphere, a wine list that pairs well with their food, and prices that won't raise the hair on the back of your neck. You can spend money here, yes, but you don't have to break the bank.

Good to know going in, but here's what you really need to understand. "One of the things I feel differentiates us from others is consistency," says Shaun. "Our professional team has been together long enough to have everyone working at the same level, whether it's the front of the house or the cooks. We have systems in place that ensure that experience each time you come in." His food is a conglomeration of his training over the years which includes working in Seattle (most recently the Book Bindery), San Francisco, Paris, and New York. Primarily fine dining restaurants, Shaun's takeaway was that he wanted to do something "…polished, not stuffy; approachable, yet interesting; a place that's not out-of-reach for an aspiring cook, and not too casual for a high-powered lawyer. My food is a story in transition. It's everything I've learned over the years with tweaks and turns unique to me and my crew." Everything is made in-house, and they utilize local farmers when possible.

Shaun and Jill met in New York when they both worked at Per Se. "We sat next to each other every day during training. She was acting and doing voice-overs as a career, which is what she went to school for, and worked in restaurants because it gave her flexibility. We worked together four years; she is extremely professional and good at building relationships with guests. Who knew that 13 years later we'd be married?"

Ruven Muñoz (behind the bar in photo) runs their beverage program. "He has been a friend of Jill's for 25 years and worked with us at the Book Bindery. He's an old-school bartender who makes the classics right. He thinks about our food and what pairs with it wine-wise and what is right price-wise."

Throughout his career, chefs he worked with became mentors and moved him along in his education. "One of the most gratifying things I do is mentor younger cooks. I know my limitations and those of this space, so when someone has learned all they can here, my job is to help them go to work with one of my mentors. I've been able to do that twice now."

Shaun and Jill worked at Book Bindery, a restaurant owned by the Almquist family, who own a winery. The family was hands off; Jill and Shaun ran it like it was their own, handling business operations as well as food and beverage. "We were there four years. A frequent guest who is an entrepreneur asked us if we had a stake in the business. We said no, but it got us thinking. We'd kind of always wanted our own place. In spring of 2014, we gave our notice and left that summer. We had a lot of assistance setting up a company that would secure our restaurant and us. It took about a year-and-a-half to find this location. When we saw the corner location and the size, we knew it was right. We like old Ballard, but it's getting saturated with restaurants, so we like being slightly removed, yet still in a neighborhood setting. Plus, we have street and building parking available." They opened Copine in July 2016. Guests order off the a la carte menu, and for parties of up to 10 people, Shaun customizes a prix fixe menu at their Chef's Table. They usually do prix fixe menus on New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day.


Since opening, they have added the Copine Project which is take-away that offers a more casual product and helps use ingredients that might have become a staff meal or gone unused. "This started organically at Book Bindery where I did a soup amuse. People started asking for it to go, but it didn't make sense there. We heard it enough that we remembered. It's a small product mix and easy to execute. We also do unique jarred items that you can't get at grocery stores, and a couple of different soups." With 99 living units above them, it's a way to service that population and give themselves another income stream.

"Sunday Supper was spawned from the Copine Project. People can pre-order Sunday dinner at a fixed price, generally chicken of some sort with side dishes for two. Orders need to be in by end-of-service on Thursdays. People pick up their dinner and have a nice Sunday meal without all the work. We've had great feedback so far. It keeps us busy, but we can still do more volume." They've recently created a small bar menu, available only at the bar Tuesday-Thursday. "I avoided this at first because the bar is the only place we don't take reservations, so people often order a full dinner there. But we have so many people in the building and neighborhood who just want something quick; it's nice to provide that option."

Copine Project cold case

Bottom line, while Shaun's food and Jill's service are top of the line, Copine is not exclusive. It's a delicate balance between an approachable atmosphere and fine food that they work at constantly. They want people to understand that balance and enjoy the experience.

Click here to see Shaun's background.

Click here to see Jill's background.

6460 24th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107


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