You’ve probably never heard of chef Charles Walpole—that is, unless you’ve worked alongside him in a restaurant kitchen. Walpole headed other people’s kitchens for a decade (most recently, Ethan Stowell’s Anchovies & Olives) before striking out with partner Rene Gutierrez to open the Blind Pig in the now-iconic original Sitka & Spruce (and later, Nettletown) strip-mall space on Eastlake.
In the Pig’s small, blood-red dining room, Walpole’s whimsy is your edible delight. He’s in his groove, dreaming up sensational and original plates, such as perfectly seasoned beets with nectarines at their peak ripeness, mascarpone cheese, grassy olive oil and slivers of palate-cleansing fennel ($9). His dishes show impressive balance: He gives an otherwise quiet plate of albacore tuna with corn and tomato water extra depth by adding the buttery crunch of hazelnuts ($18). Even the small cheese selection ($9) is given extra care, served properly at room temperature with house-made crackers and house-made mustardo. Although Seattle’s food crowd has found the place, the Blind Pig is still flying under most diners’ radar. You’ll want to get in there before that changes.
You should know: The dining room has dim lighting and is noisy; beer and wine served, but limited bar; don’t fall too in love with a dish—the menu changes daily; no reservations; great food-centric happy hour, 5–6 p.m., Sunday–Thursday. Get directions.