July 26, 2008

Russian Walls, Spanish Plates, French Chef

Chef%20Philippe.JPGThe chef, Philippe Thomelin, was born in France and found his culinary home in Andalusia. Now that he lives in Seattle (his wife grew up here), he's found the perfect spot for his new restaurant, Olivar, in the historic Loveless Building on Capitol Hill.

The original space was occupied by an utterly charming café called the Russian Samovar, that was decorated in 1931, by Vladimir Shkurkin, a classically-trained Russian artist who created murals based on a fairy tale--about a swan that turns into a princess--by Alexander Pushkin. (Shkurkin's work in Seattle also graced the old Civic Auditorium, the Eagles Auditorium and the Egyptian Building.)

A great location, opposite the Harvard Exit, just down from the Deluxe Bar & Grill (another Capitol Hill institution), next to Joe Bar, but unlucky: after the Samovar came Byzantium, then Bacchus, then Fork, then CoCo-La-Tida, then darkness.

Now the bright Mediterranean light of an olive grove, Olivar. Small plates (vegetable terrine, gazpacho, potato omelet) that you'd find at a bar like Txori. Larger plates (stuffed provençal peppers, rabbit with garlic sauce). Inexpensive wines.

Thomelin has worked in top local kitchens (Il Terrazzo, Cascadia, Voilà Harvest Vine), taught cooking classes and run his own catering company, Olive Tree. Opening his own place is a big leap of faith, but he's surrounded by evidence of a fairy tale with a happy ending.

Olivar, 805 E. Roy, Seattle, 206-322-0409 Olivar on Urbanspoon

Posted by Ronald Holden at July 26, 2008 6:32 PM | TrackBack

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