Mitch Mayers, former Lark chef de cuisine, is opening Sawyer today, his highly-anticipated solo venture in Ballard. Mayers’ restaurant in the former Kickin’ Boot space pays homage to Ballard’s role in the lumber industry and the building’s former life as a 1920s sawmill.
The food is an eclectic combination of casual and classy influences throughout Mayers’ life, from the state fairs he attended as a kid growing up in Washington, to his two winning appearances at the Cochon555 cooking competition, to his fine-dining pedigree working with the likes of Lark owner John Sundstrom, a James Beard Award-winning chef.
Sawyer’s opening menu (seen below) ranges from lower-priced bar snacks like fried jojos in nacho cheese ($7) and pork belly steam buns ($12) to fancier plates like foie gras in a jar with seasonal preserves ($19), flatiron steak cooked over a wood fire and topped with chimichurri ($29), and rotisserie porchetta with flatbread and assorted sauces and pickles ($32). Mayers gets especially playful with dessert, serving upscale takes on childhood favorites like the Choco Taco and the Dilly Bar.
General manager Tony Ramos, formerly of impressive bars Percy’s and Co. and Mbar, oversees the drink menu. His selections include wine, a long list of local beers, classic cocktails, and new concoctions.
Mayers has remade the sprawling Kickin’ Boot space at 5309 22nd Ave NW with plenty of wood features that reflect the building’s history. He kept the vaulted ceilings and exposed beams and added a wood-fired grill and rotisserie. The large west-facing windows enclosing the balcony space also remain from the restaurant’s Kickin’ Boot days. Overall, it appears to be an effective transformation, and Sawyer is a promising perch for an accomplished chef ready to lead his own team.
Sawyer is open for dinner Sunday through Thursday 4 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 3 to midnight. Sunday brunches are in the works, too.