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Brasserie Pittsbourg Brought French Food to a Former Soup Kitchen

Remembering great restaurants from Seatte's past.

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Half a century ago, when French food was being cooked up on television by Julia Child (a proper Bostonian,) François Kissel set up shop in a soup kitchen at First and Yesler previously known as the Pittsburgh Lunch; he named it the Brasserie Pittsbourg. You'd descend a few stairs and be greeted by a glorious aroma unlike anything known to Seattle at the time: a billow of steam from the cafeteria line bearing a cloud of onions, rosemary, thyme, warm bread, and simmering chicken stock. Braised short ribs; veal chop with kidneys; sweetbreads, brains, beef tenderloin with tarragon-flavored béarnaise sauce; Provençal leg of lamb redolent with garlic.

As part of dinner, a salad with a vinaigrette mixed by François behind locked doors (secret ingredient: sugar) and capped with a feather-light chocolate mousse. François and his wife, Julia, opened two more places (the City Loan Pavilion and Maximlien in the Market) before the Brasserie closed its doors in the late 1990s. The landlord transformed the space into an antique mall.