Word comes from chef John Sundstrom that he is working on three new projects to open this fall. To food nerds around Seattle, this is exciting news as Chef Sundstrom's Lark in Capitol Hill has long been a favorite with its smartly composed dishes and distinct flavors. When the announcement came yesterday of three new eateries from Sundstrom and his business partners (Kelly Ronan and JM Enos), the anticipation for fall now doesn't just include football and foliage.
When Sundstrom opened Lark on 12th Avenue in Capitol Hill over 10 years ago, he was already doing the seasonal, 'farm-to-table' concepts that have become the de rigueur for northwest restaurants. He garnered all sorts of accolades for Lark and he has also been named one of Food & Wine's 'Best New Chefs' and 'Best Chef Northwest' by the James Beard Foundation. Not to mention opening along 12th Avenue in 2003 could be considered revolutionary. Before it became the restaurant hub it is today, 12th was just an arterial street that connected Capitol Hill to Rainier. It wasn't the destination it has become.
With the news that he's relocating Lark from its 12th Ave perch to the Central Agency Building a few blocks west, along with two new concepts, eaters around town will have to patiently wait. The new iteration of Lark is said to keep the familiar look and feel of the original, but with a larger bar and expanding sections of the menu. To quote Sundstrom, 'It's Lark, grown up'. I'd imagine it's similar to when Dahlia Lounge moved from its original location (as seen in Sleepless in Seattle and where Sundstrom worked the line) to its current spot at 4th and Virginia. After dining at Lark last week, it's still exceptional and one of the finest meals one can have in Seattle. In fact, when Ruth Reichl was in town last week, she dined at Lark and sang its praises.
The other two projects moving into the Central Agency Building are Bitter/Raw and Slab Sandwich + Pie. Bitter/Raw is going into the mezzanine of the building and is a restaurant focused on its raw bar (the 'Raw') and its broad selection of amaro and aperitifs (the 'Bitter'). Slab Sandwich + Pie is the lunch, grocery, and takeout spot. With sandwiches, juices, and slab pies on premises, it's meant to be a quick drop in for a nosh or some groceries to bring home. Add the three projects up, as well as a private event space for Sundstrom and team, the Central Agency Building is sure to be a hotspot later this year.
Chef Sundstrom has always had a bit of pioneering spirit to him. After he opened Lark, he soon opened Licorous; a cocktail and small plates spot that was ahead of its time as more and more places similar to the Licorous template have since opened. It has sadly closed, but I can still remember the foie gras bon bons and the considered cocktails. When he announced a Kickstarter a few years ago for his book, Lark - Cooking Against the Grain, he used the crowd funding platform to create one of the more stunning cookbooks of the past few years (the man does know his cookbooks). In true Seattle tech fashion, Lark - Cooking Against the Grain is also available as an app. We can now look forward to his new projects and the unique twists he will put on them.