Restaurant Marché: Best New Restaurant 2012

This year’s batch of Best New Restaurants adds new depth to our lively, layered restaurant scene.

If you haven’t made a pilgrimage to eat on Bainbridge Island in the last two years, you might not recognize the place. Last year, Hitchcock opened in downtown Winslow, bringing with it a taste of youth and urbanity. Even more noteworthy was the late-spring opening of Restaurant Marché, where former Canlis chef Greg Atkinson expertly mans the kitchen of his first restaurant. In a tailored, comfortable dining room in a renovated midcentury modern building, island diners and Seattle ferry-hoppers enjoy an expertly prepared French-Northwest bill of fare: lush trout meunière, nutty with browned butter ($18); crisp-skinned duck breast with buttery brandy sauce ($24); and a version of French onion soup so spot-on and satisfying, you’ll consider slyly lifting the bowl to sip the last drops ($8–$10).

Atkinson’s wife of 26 years, Betsy, runs the dining room, pitching in to serve plates and stopping by to chat with regulars and new faces alike. It’s a family affair (the Atkinson’s 19-year-old son, Erich, also works at the restaurant on occasion), and Marché feels welcoming and relaxed even while the food belays a precise hand and the chef’s refined palate. Certainly, hopping on a ferry to and from dinner is romantic, a bit extravagant and, OK, maybe even a little nutty (especially in crummy weather). But we think the adventure makes the meal taste even better.

You should know: Reservations recommended; great for dates; serious risk of triggering a yearning for island living. Get directions.