In the overlapping sets of Seattle restaurant owners and people who are dicks there stands Phred Westfall, and it's not because he spells his name funny. Call him eccentric, call him quirky, call him sui generis if you must, but he's got a most unusual way of running his candy store, Elemental @ Gasworks.
Elemental's kitchen, by Laurie Riedmeman, does very well indeed. Last meal here was exceptional, in fact. After a refreshing aperitif, a cascade of delights: gnocchetti, beef tartar topped with a quail egg, asparagus-spinach salad with shaved parmesan, quail over green beans, a pulled pork tamale with corn, a generous cheese board. Wines to match each course (selected and poured by Phred, on his best behavior), and the tab (which includes tax & tip) was about $80.
Stories about Phred's capricious manner (alternately annoying and standoff-ish, occasionally solicitous) have been circulating for years (see UrbanSpoon, Yelp, CitySearch, etc.), but Bethany Jean Clement's review, earlier this month, of the adjacent space known as E.lemental N.ext D.oor (END) suggested things were getting better. She reported that "END's menu, on a pulled-down roll of butcher paper, bears the inked message SAME FOOD, LESS ATTITUDE."
And yet, just when we thought it might be safe to get back into the water: Not. We hear that Westfall lost his composure again this weekend after a guest took issue with the restaurant's cavalier response to a question about available seating ("I'm not psychic!"). Impolite words were spoken by both parties, whereupon Westfall physically assaulted the hapless guest. Now, we know that people get into the restaurant business for all sorts of passive-aggressive reasons ("I just want to feed people" is the most common), but sadism shouldn't be one of them. That's just dickish.
Elemental @ Gasworks, 3900 Wallingford Avenue N., 206-547-2317
The International Kitchen
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