Earth & Ocean, the W Seattle Hotel’s restaurant, was for many years a sort of culinary finishing school; John Sundstrom left E&O to open Lark; Maria Hines cooked there previous to opening Tilth. More recently, though, the restaurant has struggled to find a local audience.
So this month, the W reopens its restaurant with a new name, TRACE, and a new chef at the helm, former Luc chef Steven Ariel. J
Just last year, the W Hotel in Austin, TX also reopened its restaurant as TRACE (in all caps), as did the W San Francisco. The name refers to the idea that all of the food served will be “traceable”—local, seasonal, of this place and time. The Austin restaurant boasts an on-staff forager, and the San Francisco Trace has, according to press materials, a strategic partnership with a "celebrity organic food expert"!
On a national level, it’s clear that the W Hotel and its TRACE restaurants are hoping to capitalize on the farm-to-table trend while it’s still hot. (It's worth noting, however, that each of the W Hotel restaurants had their own individual restaurant concepts before this switch, whereas they'll share the larger concept now.)
Here in Seattle, where sustainable-local-organic has become standard (even, perhaps, a touch yawn-inducing), will the new concept be enough to draw diners back? We’ll see; the restaurant reopens on March 9th.