They come, bleary or hopeful, waking up or winding down, to Seattle's newest spot, The Night Kitchen.
Hard to believe the stir, 40 years ago, caused by the illustration of little Mickey's pee-pee when In the Night Kitchen first saw light of day. Avalon Zanoni, Art Institute grad, chef & baker, brushes aside all the gender-squeamishness and concentrates instead on NK's role-playing possibllities.
In the space formerly occupied by Entre Nous, she and her stout-hearted team have just launched Seattle's first overnight restaurant, unlike greasy 24-hour diners, aimed at a sleepless hipster mainstream as well as underserved denizens of the alternative LGBT universe. Yes, plus night owls, insomniacs, club-goers and shift workers. Downtown location (216 Stewart, two blocks from the Market), no phone but a twitter feed (@night_kitchen), opening hours from 6 PM until 9 the next morning.
There's a new lounge with a mural full of visual puns (the Space Needle is an upside-down whisk) and board games (Food Wars). And, as soon as the liquor license comes through, a bar where Australian Zach Setter can do more than practice his lemonade-making skills. Meantime, Zanoni and her crew are busy turning out steak-frites, chicken pot pie and duck pork burgers. You get the feeling Maurice Sendak would be proud, mighty proud.
They also go. Go quietly into that good rainy night of warm fellowship and hot food, from Emerald City to The City, quietly sipping a last americano at Muse on Queen Anne. Jonathan Kauffman, for three years as Seattle Weekly's food and restaurant writer, moves on, moves back, actually, to the same paper he left, no longer relegated to the East Bay suburbs. The joke was on SF Weekly: Kauffman found more good eats in the ethnic enclaves of the "hinterlands" than downtown, and he brought that same sense of discovery to Seattle, finding figurative Peruvian treasures in the strip malls of White Center and caches of Korean cuisine beyond Crossroads.
A critic like Jonathan--fair, honest, curious, a former cook who respects the hard work that goes into a restaurant--benefits not just his readers but the entire community. Helps that he's a damn good writer, too, having won Best Newspaper Restaurant column from the Association of Food Journalists in 2009 and James Beard winner three years earlier for his work at the East Bay Express.
His successor in Seattle is another James Beard winner and author of Cooking Dirty, subtitled "A Story of Life, Sex, Love and Death in the Kitchen." Sheehan's been at the Weekly's sister paper in Denver, the Westword.