It's old news that chefs in this town put their fancy foot forward with their first restaurants, making a splash with more elaborate dishes, a more formal dining room approach, and a "I take my food seriously" aire. But with the second restaurant? Well that's where they have some fun.
Things are taken down a notch (or several), and many of these second spots seem like just the type of place you'd imagine said chef hanging out in after a long night in his first restaurant's kitchen. They've proved themselves, and the second restaurant is an insight into who they really are when they're not trying too hard to impress someone. Zoe's Scott Staples was having all kinds of fun with his wild boar sloppy Joe at Quinn's; Tom Douglas let his hair down when he opened Palace Kitchen; more recently, Thierry Rautureau's Luc plays French food fast and loose and the Joule chefs have a dynamite hit on their hands at Revel, their casual Korean spot that packs the house for lunch, dinner and brunch.
And now it's Maria Hines's turn with Golden Beetle. The James Beard Award-winning chef has helmed the Northwest seasonal kitchen at Tilth for four years to much acclaim. She's ready to launch into another direction with Golden Beetle, named for a Spanish beetle that is said to have aphrodisiac qualities, and where flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean will play the star role.
The Ballard space (1744 NW Market Street) has been redone in shades of blue, with a custom glass tile mosaic on the large oven in the space. Hines traveled to Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt for inspiration, and so to eat: hummos and figs, tabbouleh and lamb tagine with green olives, homemade cous cous (!!), and of course there'll be ginger, lemon, harrissa, pomegranate molasses, all of the sensational aromatics of the region's cuisine.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Maria Hines restaurant if the larder wasn't filled with the best, freshest organic ingredients. Hence, Golden Beetle is the country's third restaurant to qualify for Oregon Tilth certification (Tilth, her Wallingford restaurant, was the second).
The opening is set for this Friday, February 18th; the restaurant will be open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Come springtime, the restaurant will serve lunch and will be open Mondays.