Eater's roving restaurant critic, Bill Addison, has unveiled this year's list of The 21 Best New Restaurants in America. In a rare twist, not one but two Seattle hot spots made the cut for 2016: James Beard Award-winner Renee Erickson's latest, Bateau, and first-time restaurateur Edouardo Jordan's Salare.
"It was, honestly, probably the biggest surprise of my year's research to find two Seattle restaurants that I felt resolutely had a place on the list," Addison says. "Not that Seattle doesn't support forward-thinking newcomers year after year — of course it does. But New York, for example, only has one restaurant on this year's list."
Addison has a long history with Seattle, having lived here in the 1990s. He even worked as a pastry chef at Madrona's Plenty, among other places. The critic says both Bateau and Salare are obvious standouts on the national level, and elaborated on his choices for Eater Seattle.
"Bateau's approach to the steakhouse absolutely blew me away — the way it takes its cues from the butcher shop and offers these unusual but absolutely satisfying cuts of beef," Addison says. Renee Erickson's steakhouse opened to instant acclaim in November, alongside siblings Bar Melusine and General Porpoise Doughnuts.
"I love that the kitchen serves one or two of most steak cuts a night; when they're gone, the staff crosses them off the chalkboard list and that's that. I wrote a piece recently about the innovation of steakhouses in Chicago, but Bateau is another advancement altogether that reflects smart choices about whole-animal cooking and finding true pleasure in the unexpected." A cutting-edge steakhouse in Seattle? The future is now, people.
As for Salare, which Edouardo Jordan opened last June after a string of high-profile kitchen assignments (including Matt Dillon's recently-shuttered Bar Sajor), Addison calls it "just flat-out wonderful" and says he loves the biographical nature of the menu.
"As a fellow Southerner I appreciate Jordan's choice to serve pork trotters and collard greens, but then a dish like black cod with garlic scapes, salted plums, and einkorn (a wheat variation with a farro-like texture) feels so of the Pacific Northwest. It was very gratifying to share dinner here with longtime Seattle friends who hadn't been yet, and they all said, 'Oh, we're absolutely coming back here.'"
This is the second edition of the list; last year's included Mike Easton's now defunct Pizzeria Gabbiano. To determine his picks, Addison travels the country dining anonymously (throughout, he also uses his insights to curate the National 38 guide, which currently includes another of Erickson's establishments, The Whale Wins). To be eligible, restaurants must have opened between May 2015 and May 2016.