Anchovies & Olives, Ethan Stowell’s new Italian seafood restaurant finally opened last week at 15th and Pine, so I stopped by late last night to see what was cooking. For a Tuesday they were doin’ a business, and I was lucky to cadge the last seat at the bar, where this vision in curls, Sidonie Rodman — late of Portland, Maine and even later of Nova Scotia — was pouring on the charm, pouring out the cocktails and lending her expertise by helping the undecided decide among more than a dozen Italian wines by-the-glass ($8-$11):
While I was sipping something wet and white, Stowell came over to chat. “Do you like cherrystone clams on the half shell?” he asked. “Are you kidding?” I said, regaling him with one of those back-in-the-day stories involving my first taste of raw clams — at a New Jersey “taproom.” In those days, back before kids like him and Sedonie were born, 10-year-old kids like me could sit at bars with their parents and drink (cherry Cokes).
My parents had stopped for a beer on our way “down the shore,” the Slim Jim I’d downed didn’t exactly fill me up, and seeing as the taproom’s house specialty was clams, I figured I’d order some, never guessing they’d be (ewww?) raw. But I was as adventuresome an eater then as now, and I knocked back six without blinking. The waitress was so impressed, she brought me a half-dozen more on the house. Yo, Ethan? Where’s my cherry Coke? And what? No cocktail sauce?
Ethan’s spending plenty of time here, for now, cooking and schmoozing. But like Tom Douglas, he regularly makes the rounds of his other Seattle restaurants and trusts his “guys” to make him look good in the kitchen:
That’s “Big Sean” Hawes on the left, above. He’s 20, and he’s been cooking for Ethan since he was 17. Sean’s an up-and-comer with an awesome talent says his boss. “These guys in their 30s used to come and cook at Union,” Ethan recalls, “and Sean, who’d been there for a while, would tell them, `Hey! You’re not doing that right. Do it like this!’ and they’d think, `Who’s the punk?’ before realizing, ‘Whoa, he’s right.'”
That’s Big Daddy (and chef de cuisine) Charles Walpole front and center. “He’s the only guy in here who’s older than me,” says Ethan, whom I’ve known since he was a punk kid. Back then, he had an unconscionably cocky attitude. Some say he’s still got that problem. Nah. I think he’s mellowed-out considerably (a wife and four restaurants will do that to a guy). On the right is Manuel “Manu” Alfau, Charles’s right-hand-man. “It’s great to be able to have a place for guys like Manu to move up,” says Ethan, marking the sous-chef’s move to Anchovies & Olives.
And in case you were wondering: Yes, the boys are serving anchovies — with proscuitto, sliced to order ($14). And as a dressing for a romanesco salad with soft-cooked egg ($9). They’ve also got olives (in oil, with Columbia City focaccia, $2; and tossed with shell-shaped pasta, along with octopus, tomatoes and capers, $16). Which is nice, because now there’s a place within walking distance when they say, “Sorry, it’ll be an hour’s wait” at Spinasse.
Seafood certainly shines here, as you can see by this display of hamachi crudo ($14):
A dish of olives, crudo, housemade pasta (made at that other house, in Belltown) or entrees like branzino, striped bass and daurade ($16-$18) are available till midnight, and the fooderati are all over the place already, showing up late and staying even later.
On hand last night was Seattle Magazine food columnist Lorna Yee (below, center), who swung into town a year ago and quickly made a name for herself with her private dinner club, Cache. Now she’s got a new blog, The Cookbook Chronicles, to go along with an upcoming cookbook. She’s also got a handsome husband — architect Henry Lo. Henry was at A&O with his wife and friends, celebrating his birthday.
That darling diva posing with them is Tamara Hamry, a walking advertisement for eye-catching hairdos. She makes it her business to look good — literally. Her business card says: “hair services, hair accessories, hair clip-in extensions.” Perhaps Tamara’s got a few ideas for man-about-town Chris Nishiwaki, who, says Ethan, has pretty much been living at Anchovies & Olives since it opened. Looks like he’s already got extensions of his own, though:
As the evening progressed, the clock struck “Miller Time” at restaurants everywhere and I had a front-row seat to a parade of Seattle chefs. Here’s Ethan (center) with Vuong Loc (left) and Jonathan Hunt (right):
Vuong was here with his staff from Portage on Queen Anne Hill and Jonathan swung by after a busy day heading up the kitchen at Boom Noodle. He’ll have a bit farther to travel later this month when Boom Noodle opens its Bellevue Square location. Vuong and Jonathan had a chance to meet the new kid on the block, chef Jason Franey, who recently took the helm at Canlis, where he was recruited from Eleven Madison Park in NYC:
Jason’s happy to be here in Seattle and after a stellar meal at Canlis six weeks ago, I’m glad he’s come. Hey, Leslie Kelly! Thanks for the BLTs, and I loved that onion dip:
Hey, honey, I hear you’re reviewing Canlis in the P.I. on Friday! I’m as curious as Jason is to hear your take on the venerable restaurant and its young chef-exec. You’d better be nice to him! Don’t, and well, you never know: his new pal Vuong has some mighty big biceps, and Ethan might just sic his “guys” on you.