Seth Caswell had spent 18 months looking for a home for Emmer&Rye when serendipity finally struck last winter. The chef, who left Stumbling Goat on Phinney Ridge in 2008, met with the owners of Julia’s restaurants, who were looking to close their Queen Anne location but were willing to remain partners in a new venture. Caswell could take over a kitted-out restaurant and avoid lengthy permitting issues while getting a prime hilltop spot in a beautifully renovated Victorian home. In late January the Queen Anne Julia’s became Emmer&Rye, Caswell’s homey creation named for locally grown grains.
The walls now wear warm shades of brown, but little else has changed: The antique bric-a-brac remains, the comfortable carved-oak chairs still encourage conversation and lingering. Perhaps the most notable thing about Emmer&Rye is just how refreshingly lived in and un-hip it feels. Caswell, a passionate advocate for local, seasonal foods and small producers, translates that mission to a menu of accessible crowd pleasers—each dish available in small or large portions—like house-made pappardelle with tender pulled rabbit ($12/$19). Probably my favorite dish—and there is plenty to like here—was a roasted cauliflower salad ($7/$12) tangled up with greens and slivers of sautéed mushrooms. At dinnertime, the kitchen runs on all cylinders; sadly, that can’t yet be said for the service staff, which can be tense and brusque at times, chatty (with each other) and absent at others. Brunch Sat.–Sun., dinner daily. Queen Anne, 1825 Queen Anne Ave. N; 206.282.0680; emmerandrye.com. $$
Originally published in June 2010