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Hidden (literally) Seattle restaurant?

A couple of friends who live in the 2200 block of Eastlake were talking about an article in Sunset magazine about a hidden restaurant at the south end of their block. We were walking through the back alley (after snarfing on yummy potato and rosemary pizza at Serious Pie!) and they pointed up through the overgrown shrubbery where we could see fairy lights strung outside and what looked like a deck/outdoor eating area. Their memory of the article was that the space was tiny, maybe only one seating a day and maybe limited days of the week. There is NO signage. My curiousity has been piqued. Anyone know anything?

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  1. I asked someone at work about this; we think it's behind Serafina, but I can't find anything online about it. Given that I live a block away, I really want to know. It's weird that I've never heard of it...

    1. I have a feeling the place you are talking about is Sitka & Spruce. It's in that little strip mall SE of the Zoo Tavern.

      8 Replies
      1. re: malarkey

        I don't think so, I'm pretty sure Sunset was talking about this guy: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/food/26...
        But odd that Hsaio-Ching doesn't mention a restaurant. At the time of the Sunset article I thought maybe it wasn't open yet, but maybe it's 'underground'?

        1. re: babette feasts

          You might be right; this article (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/food/27...) places it at 2203 Eastlake Ave E, and I can't think of any other dining place at that location. Not sure if it ever did open though.

          1. re: broksonic

            Now I am intrigued:

            http://www.sunset.com/sunset/marketpl...

            Page 4, has the cover article picture on this place, but I can't find any new reference to it.

            Chowhound had one posting from a while back (November): http://www.chowhound.com/topics/343019

            1. re: broksonic

              Behind the cleaners, there's a space with a pian pianino business card on the door and rather yellow looking newspapers taped up in the windows.
              'Slow and easy' indeed.

              1. re: babette feasts

                I noticed that yesterday as well; I walked over there. There's definitely a big garden area right behind that's likely the spot where the Sunset article had it's picture from. I wonder if they are still doing dining, or that was a one-time thing. There's also a (what looks like a) housing unit upstairs from it that had lights on.

                At one point, that was the rumored spot where Hines' Coffee was going to move to.

                1. re: broksonic

                  This is so great! I went away for a few days, thought this was a dead subject and now there's all this info! I'm going to snoop around and if I'm successful, will report back!

                2. re: babette feasts

                  Looks like a pasta making operation (commercial) only.

              2. re: babette feasts

                OMG I know this guy. I was one of his devoted buyers when he was at the Ballard farmer's market. His pastas are impossibly thin, just gorgeous and absolutely delicious. I had a fennel & ricotta ravioli made by him I still have dreams about LOL

            2. Check out this month's Food and Wine for more info. It seems that dinner is 10 courses 3X a week. I think the article is online.

              2 Replies
                1. re: lucky.goldstar

                  I read that article with a mix of envy and frustration. Envy, because I'll never be a restauranteur-cum-food-writer with access to the secret places and parties of the PNW in-crowd.

                  Frustration because while I understand the sybaritic pleasure of small and slow - I cook at home, too - I also realize that it takes a lot of skill and, yes, professionalism, to open a restaurant to the public. Indeed, that's much tougher than just cooking a good meal for friends every so often - and the author should appreciate that more than anyone.

                  I would sure like to hear about it if Pian Pianino does open its doors to commoners.

              1. I have been dogging Justin as well. According to a friend of Justin's from Foraged and Found the F&W article outed his restaurant when he is not really open yet. I read the article and tried calling to no avail. Apparently the crush of business is jamming his cell phone's message box.

                Justin Niedermyer was previously the pasta maker at Cafe Juanita. His pastas are, as mentioned, unbelievable. I still dream of the rabbit plin I had at CJ. Once he left there he started his pasta company upstairs at Via Tribunali and apparently did a few private dinners there. I bought his pasta a few more times from his booth at the Ballard Farmer's Market but he has not been there for some time.

                1. This is the outdoor terrace area of Serafina. It's a European style courtyard.

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: Lauren

                      There is a deck behind Pian Pianino, as mentioned behind the dry cleaners. I don't remember now whether I saw lights strung on it so I don't know if it is the same place you are talking about but I am pretty sure you must be talking about p.p.

                      PS Still no luck getting a dinner there. I have called a couple times but no answer.

                  1. ...I don't know what happened to the post I just wrote but I talked to Justin and Pian Pianino is still under construction but he is having prix fixe family style dinners now Sunday and Monday nights at Sitka and Spruce. 206-251-7673. That is the number for Pian Pianino. Per his answering machine he asks that people not try to reserve through Sitka and Spruce. Anyway, I am going Monday! I am pretty excited about it. I will post later.

                    klsalas

                    PS Justin read this string and was concerned that people think his food is just for an insider crowd. I get the impression he has just been slammed and has been doing limited dinners while gearing up.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: klsalas

                      im excited to hear how it goes. please tell.

                    2. I ate here last night and thought it was excellent, but it is not for those who have compunctions about eating (a lot of) meat. Our eleven-course meal included five courses whose chief ingredient was meat, including salame mista, beef tongue, a superb carne cruda, roasted leg of lamb with roman cauliflower, and braised rabbit. As would be expected, the pasta dishes were outstanding, and the meal was finished with very nice macerated donut peaches and a tasteful, well-selected cheese plate.

                      The food was plentiful, and it is a very good value for the price (but it is still pricey). I'd go back.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: ssusu

                        ssusu, sounds great. Was this dinner in the Sitka and Spruce space as per klsalas, or....?

                        1. re: equinoise

                          It was in the Sitka and Spruce space. Sundays and Mondays, one seating per night.

                          1. re: ssusu

                            Thanks for the recap of the dinner. It sounds like good value .. a tremendous number of courses. What was the wine selection like?

                            -K

                            1. re: klsalas

                              We were offered a couple of italian reds and whites off of the regular Sitka and Spruce wine list, two proseccos, and one or two $75 bottles of wine that were not on the list. These were out of our budget and we ended up having a nice Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato from the list.

                              1. re: ssusu

                                Thanks! I will post on our dinner shortly.

                                -K

                                1. re: klsalas

                                  The dinner was last night and was fantastic. We had a party of 8. There was one other party (now I can't remember if it was 4 or 6) and that was it. It really felt like a private dinner, very intimate. Of course the space only really seats a max of 24. Justin was a gracious host. He came out an introduced himself to everyone and went over the whole menu with us. We also had an opportunity to look at the kitchen and see his setup, which was a treat.

                                  Dinner was 11 courses for $65. Wine and service were extra. The menu sounds pretty similar to that experienced by ssusu. There was an amuse: crostini w/sardine and grape tomatoes, salumi assortment, beef tongue (which was incredibly tender) with roasted red peppers, a salad of radiccio and chanterelles, a white long bean (more like a white snap pea) salad, carne cruda, a ravioli with cauliflower and bottarga, a tagliatini with ragu, secondi of rabbit with olives and carrots and desserts, a sweet crepe with cheese and cheese with honey and filberts. There was ample food in each course. I only wish that we had a few more of the ravioli!

                                  The wine selection was, as billed above, very modest. The wines that we had were very nice however. We ordered a barbera and a white wine, which I will think of later I am sure. Our party also brought three bottles to the dinner. Corkage is $20/bottle which I thought was a little steep, especially with such a limited wine selection, but they did decant two wines that needed decanting and provided multiple glasses.

                                  The dinner lasted approximately 4 hours. I am already thinking of a return trip. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

                                  I will post again with all of the details later. Our friends also took some pictures. I will see if I can get some of those to upload.

                                  -K