A Sneak Peek at Emmer and Rye (opening Jan. 28th)


Emmer and Rye opens this Thursday, Jan. 28th

Exactly a month after announcing that a restaurant lease has been signed for a spot on Queen Anne, chef Seth Caswell’s long-awaited Emmer & Rye restaurant is (almost) open for business.

Emmer & Rye, which now occupies the Victorian house at 1825 Queen Anne Ave. N (formerly Julia’s), has been a long time in the making. Rumors of Caswell’s restaurants began in 2008, when the proposed restaurant was simply dubbed “Emmer”. (Seattle Magazine listed Emmer as a “Restaurant to Watch” in our April 2009 Best Restaurants issue.) In late 2009, after plans for two locations fell through and a major investor bailed, Caswell kept his cooking chops honed with weekly private dinners at Art of the Table. By Dec. 27th 2009, news that Emmer & Rye had finally found a home in Queen Anne spread quickly via Twitter and Facebook.

Last night, this 70-seat restaurant opened its doors for a soft opening. If you are familiar with Caswell’s food from his days at Stumbling Goat Bistro, you’ll find much the same philosophy on the Emmer & Rye menu—the meats and produce are sourced from local farms, and vegetables are not an afterthought here. Items like crisped farro fries with a savory dipping sauce ($5), appear on the menu, along with roasted sunchokes with fingerling potatoes and black truffle aioli ($4), and—my favorite dish of the evening—pleasantly gamey goat crepinette with black trumpet mushrooms and wedge of butternut squash gratin ($17). Other items of note were the housemade sausage, split down the middle and arranged on crostini with sliced apple, brussels sprout leaves, and salsa verde, and a rosy slice of cider-roasted pork shoulder, a soft striation of fat encircling the tender portion of meat. Slight misses? Cold butternut squash soup, and a plate of pork belly that would’ve been perfectly delicious if there had been a bit of acid to brighten the dish. (Still, these are minor criticisms, and I’m quite confident these dishes will have been tweaked by opening.) The reasonably priced menu, ranging from $4-$17 and made up almost entirely of local ingredients, feels exactly right for this economy.

Also joining chef Caswell’s team is Rocky Yeh, a local food-enthusiast who left his day job to chase the cocktail dream. I’ve been following Yeh’s exploits on Facebook: months of research and stages at various high-profile bars has now landed him behind the bar at Emmer & Rye. (Try the “Pitchfork”, advertised as “a negroni with a local twist” with Voyager gin, Campari, grapefruit and lemon—or, if you’re a fan of absinthe, get the “Rye-se and Shine”, with rye, brandy, sweet vermouth, and bitters.)

Emmer & Rye is open for dinner seven days a week starting Jan. 28th, and weekend brunch starting Saturday, Feb. 6th.
For reservations, please call 206.282.0680