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July 22, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Restaurant Marché part 1: Campagne, Pike Place Market

Barby Cohen wrote asking what gives with the “winter remodel” of Campagne. The one I told you about in January when Daisley Gordon and I discussed the closure of the iconic French restaurant — slated to have reopened by now with a new look, a new menu and a new lease on life.

“I’m très worried that they won’t reopen,” says Barby, who can’t ken the notion that her favorite restaurant may go the way of others awaiting “remodel” by staying closed indefinitely. “Do you have any insider information?” she inquired, after a recent visit to the shuttered courtyard site. And she’s not the only one waiting for some good news on the Campagne front. I’ve heard from numerous Eaters left tapping their toes and checking their watches.

The Zucker clan, seen this week waiting impatiently for Campagne to reopen. With no time to waste, they could have gone to Cafe Campagne, but headed instead to that other Market treasure, Matt’s in the Market.

“We just started tearing walls down,” chef Gordon told me last week when I called for insider info, explaining the new design will create greater harmony between the former dining room and the existing bar. “Our goal is to be open again by the first of September” with a new French name: Marché, reflecting the Market location.

Cafe Campagne’s continued success notwithstanding, Gordon — who oversees the sister-restaurants as managerial head as well as culinary guiding light — will likely also get a new chef’s coat.

“Wait a minute!” you say. Isn’t there another Marché here in the Pacific Northwest? (Indeed, there is.) And another one scheduled to open soon on Bainbridge Island? Mais oui: That’s part two. (Which we’ll discuss in a subsequent post.)

With the debut of Marché Seattle, and the installation of an Enomatic wine-dispensing system, we can do away with the notion of fine-dining dinner house and usher in a new identity as a “bistro a vin,” says Gordon. “We already have a groovy wines-by-the-glass program in the Cafe [Campagne], and here we’ll have a glass program that will allow people to drink really great wines without having to commit to a whole bottle.” He also hopes to tap the talent of Washington winemakers providing restaurants with their own quality wines on tap.

So, what will distinguish Marché from Cafe Campagne? I asked. “The Cafe will continue to serve classic French food — the best croque monsieur, cassoulet, steak frites.” At Marché, the menu will be more dynamic. “The heart of it will still be French, that’s what I do, that’s what people respond to,” says the chef. “But we won’t be bound to doing the classics.”

Instead, he’ll feel free to “jump the border in a tasteful exploration of the flavors of Spain, Italy, Germany and Belgium,” while also nodding to “the places France had been” — North Africa among them. “It’ll be stuff we like and are excited about, food that’s absolutely seasonally driven.”

Marché is meant to appeal to the way diners are eating and drinking now, Gordon says. “My goal is to make this a place where people can come in and do what suits them whether they’re sitting in the bar or dining room, eating as little — or as much — as they like.”

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