Former Lark chef de cuisine Mitch Mayers is preparing to open the doors on a new restaurant in Ballard next month, promising creative dishes centering around a range of comforting classics.
Sawyer is the name of the restaurant, taking over the former Kickin’ Boot location on 22nd Avenue after it closed last winter. Mayers tells Eater he’s hoping to make it into a neighborhood fixture but with some not-so-standard fare.
“We want the quality and creativity you’d expect from fine dining restaurants of the world, but a little bit more approachable.”
Talking about the potential menu items, Mayers invokes foods that diners might crave (for him personally, that could be burgers, or a fried fish sandwich). But some whimsy and creativity should get injected into those dishes — he highlights dishes like oxtail nachos with soft-scrambled eggs, cotija cheese, and tomato ragu, or sweetbreads with a pork blood General Tso sauce and crispy fried rice.
On the more classic side will be a rotisserie chicken dish with jus and roasted potatoes — in fact, it seems Sawyer could be a minor rotisserie destination, with eight spits going into the open kitchen. It’ll also feature a six-foot wood-fired grill for other meaty dishes.
On the beverage side, Mayers says he wants to keep things equally approachable — the wine list won’t be 100 pages, but will have around three dozen options, ranging from $25 to a little over $100 per bottle. Beers will be hyper-local, sourced entirely from breweries in Ballard — expect five on tap, and more in cans and bottles.
As for the space, it’s a big one at 4,700 square feet, but Mayers says he’s keeping it well spaced-out to give diners some moments of privacy. That’ll be done with fixtures like four-top booths in a plus-sign arrangement, and smaller booths at the windows.
It’ll be a bright, cheery room, with herringbone and brick walls getting the whitewash treatment, set off by ashy bar and tabletops. With patio and bar included, it should seat 120.
Mayers is joined on the project by his wife, Ellie Mayers. In the kitchen will be two chefs he encountered during his time at Lark, Julio Avila and Taylor Thomas, who bring serious Michelin-level experience, including time at New York’s Cosme, in the case of Avila.
“They have a serious pedigree of Michelin star restaurants but they also want to bring something a little more playful than the tweezer style food you see.”
Mayers is more than willing to let them get creative with potential menu items, too.
“One of them texted and asked how I’d feel about doing cool ranch taquitos.”
Note that there’s no promise that those taquitos will be on the menu, though. Expect Sawyer to open July 25.