When Nettletown's Christina Choi announced the restaurant's closing last Friday, she promised that "another great neighborhood space is coming your way" in the Eastlake address that previously housed Sitka & Spruce. It turns out former Anchovies & Olives chef Charles Walpole is taking over the space, and naming it Blind Pig Bistro.
"This just kinda happened out of the blue in the past couple weeks," he said of the space. "This opportunity came up and we're going for it."
Walpole headed up the kitchen at Ethan Stowell's Capitol Hill seafood restaurant, building up a loyal following while the restaurant earned national acclaim. He left in June to cook at Marjorie while he focused on his own project.
His partner in the venture is fellow Stowell vet Rene Gutierrez, who will be managing the front of house and the bar program. The two met at the original Mistral, and Gutierrez currently works at Staple & Fancy.
Walpole was hesitant to assign a timeline to the venture since it's so new. However he said the menu will consist of 10 or 12 small dishes that will change every day; one wall of the tiny restaurant will get a coating of chalkboard paint so the day's menu can be written directly on the wall. The menu will always include some sort of crudo or ceviche, and "there will always be some kind of fried little pig little parts on there," he says.
Diners can also expect a $35 "surprise menu," says Walpole, "where we just cook for that person." It's a nod to the success of the tasting menu at Staple & Fancy, as well as the original Mistral, albeit in a much more casual setting. "We always thought the old Mistral was great and fun, and the food was fantastic but it was very expensive and very much a special occasion restaurant," says Walpole. "We wanted to create that kind of food but make it the kind of place where people can come every day."
The restaurant's name is a nod to "blind pig," a slang term for a not-exactly-highfalutin' speakeasy. Just don't expect a mixology program, says Walpole?there just isn't room. However his arrival will continue a streak of prominence (and amazing food) at this humble Eastlake Avenue address, tucked into a drab strip mall. "There's some good karma," he says.
It remains to be seen what's next for Choi. After her news broke last Friday, a flurry of food peeps mourned Nettletown's closing, and hazarded various guesses as to where she'll venture next. Catering seems to be a popular guess, though Seattle diners would likely stampede a food truck or regular pop-up dinner should Choi choose to go that route.