TRACE, the W Seattle's new street-level “living room” and restaurant (formerly Earth & Ocean) opens today after a three-month, $2.5 million remodel. It's the third TRACE restaurant, follwing similar “re-wondering” of W hotels in Austin, Tex., and San Francisco.
True to its brand as the edgy alternative to the staid Westin, W Seattle combines the elegant with the plebian, both arty and utilitarian. The dining room, bright and airy, features functional, lunchroom-style tables and chairs, but the chairs are covered with a faux-leather gold lamé. It's part of each W Hotel's identity as a “design-led lifestyle brand.” The Portland firm of Skylab Architecture came up with the design: Seattle tones of gray and silver, flanked by columns that are both abstract totem poles and waterfront piers.
The chef de cuisine for the 100-seat restaurant (as well as room service and banquets) is Steven Ariel, a native of Honolulu, who has worked his way around Seattle since 2006: Canlis(executive sous-chef), Cafe Juanita(sous chef), and Luc(chef de cuisine).
“It's not traditional fine dining,” says W Seattle GM Tom Limberg. “We want to see locals come in every day, not just for special occasions.” The menu states TRACE's mission of creating meals from locally sourced ingredients (farmed, foraged, crafted, hunted), from appetizer staples like Dungeness crab cakes and “market greens” to Washington steelhead with trofie pasta. The bar will offer locally distilled spirits; the wine list is studded with local treasures like Sparkman Cellars Lumière (chardonnay) DeLille Cellars Doyenne (syrah).
There's a sushi bar along the back wall of the dining room (Seattle roll, $10 along with the usual suspects, salmon, amberjack, octopus, albacore). The bar menu also offers oysters, a pork chop, and short-rib sliders.
Report by Ronald Holden, Eater Contributor