Friday, May 27, 2011

SEATTLE SLOP: SPINASSE (EXPANSION)


Spinasse, in Seattle’s Pike/Pine Corridor, focuses on the cuisine of Piedmont in northern Italy, but highlights seasonal ingredients from the Pacific Northwest.

my table view in the original dining space

I was invited to a Friends & Family event to celebrate the new expansion of Spinasse, a doubling in size that’s expanding both the kitchen (including a new pasta-making station on display) and the dining room. Spinasse Chef Jason Stratton has been a close friend of mine for nearly 15 years (we were friends in high school and roommates in college) and I’ve become good friends with many of the staff here, both front of house and in the kitchen.

The restaurant has been open approximately three years now in a relatively small space that attempted to encourage a communal dining atmosphere and concentrated on pastas shared family-style. Jason was brought in as head chef just over a year later and made some swift changes: the focus on pasta remained, but the emphasis on family-style sharing and communal dining he allowed to fade away. In its place, he expanded the restaurant’s antipasti (appetizers) and secondi (mains) menu offerings and created new dishes constantly so the menu would change and have new offerings every few days. As the restaurant began receiving some local and national (and recently international) acclaim, the physical, spatial constraints of the restaurant became more and more apparent. Reservations needed to be made not days but often weeks in advance even with expanded hours; the 10-seat bar looking into the kitchen, which remained open for walk-ins, was constantly packed (and tightly!) with customers being turned away on a regular basis.

About a year ago, the possibility of expanding into the space next door (some sort of home furnishing/glassware retail shop) began to set an expansion plan in motion. Spinasse hired the architecture firm ZeroPlus (conveniently located just around the corner from the restaurant), and whom Jason was familiar with from their designs for the restaurant Poppy (where he worked and helped open before coming to Spinasse) located on the north side of Capitol Hill.

old bar looking to new bar/new dining room


new dining room (glassed-in pasta station in the background)


new kitchen looking to old kitchen


Needless to say, the expansion of Spinasse has been a long time in the making; construction finally started a couple months ago on the other side of the wall, while Spinasse proceeded to be packed, business as usual. Finally, last weekend they broke through the wall of the kitchen into the new, additional kitchen space and over the past three days the restaurant has been closed while the rest of the walls were removed to connect the entire kitchen with new glassed-in pasta station, the expanded bar and expanded dining space. I think the greatest compliment to be paid is that the new space feels as though it has always been there; as if discovering some Egyptian tomb that was partially caved in has finally been revealed for the first time. I’m not sure that my photos really do the new Spinasse justice.

Oh, and the food (and wine and orangecello) were exceptional.

pickled radish w/ ricotta (please excuse the giant bite)


foie gras w/ tripe and chickpeas


poached trout and asparagus


Barbaresco, a wine associated with Piedmont. I'm terrible at describing wines, but it was sort of like if plums grew in the forest. It paired great with all our later dishes.


taglietelle w/ duck ragu and marjoram


tajarin w/ house ragu


rabbit w/ olives and raisins


capunet (pork and potato roll) wrapped in chard (traditionally uses cabbage)


In additional exciting Spinasse-related news, adjacent to the newly expanded section of the restaurant they will be opening a new wine and aperitivo bar, Artusi. Artusi will have its own small satellite kitchen and separate menu from Spinasse, concentrating more on the combination of influences that make up regional cuisine throughout all of Italy. I'm very excited. Its been sort of a pet project of Jason's... Expected to open in one week!


Spinasse

1531 14th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122


- Jordan

supermouthhappy Web Developer

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