Brian Clevenger is on his game. In a rare and impressive stroke, the chef/owner of Madrona’s much anticipated Vendemmia (1126 34th Avenue, near Red Cow) Italian eatery has announced progress is actually ahead of schedule, and he foresees a soft opening in the first half of May (June was the original estimate).
A sample menu is already posted on the restaurant’s website with sections for vegetables ($8-$12), pastas ($12-$16), and entrees ($19-$22). Clevenger (currently at Staple and Fancy; formerly of Tavolàta, Serafina, and Cicchetti) says that this fairly unorthodox menu organization will be typical, as he prefers to focus on the categories of dishes over a designated appetizer section, and hopes to create an atmosphere of family-style sharing and sampling.
"I want to encourage guests to dine the way I like to dine. I want to be able to choose two items and have that price point be what I want to pay, and I want a table to be able to order ten items and share them," Clevenger says. Plus, "The produce from Washington State is amazing and it should have its own section."
Drink-wise, he’s not ready to announce names, but is collaborating with a team to produce a "very exciting bar program" and feels that an "amazing bartender" plays an especially strong role in a neighborhood restaurant like this one.
Per Clevenger’s style, Vendemmia’s décor will take a minimalist approach, maintaining the space’s concrete floors and exposed concrete ceilings, and adding lighter wood to soften the effect. The restaurant gets fantastic sun exposure, he says, so the whole front face is open, and he's especially stoked about the Madrona location.
"I love the feel of that neighborhood, and everything seems right," Clevenger says.