Renee Erickson is remaking Saint Helens Cafe — which her restaurant group, Sea Creatures, acquired last year from Josh Henderson’s Huxley Wallace Collective — into Bistro Shirlee, named for her mother. Saint Helens, in its current iteration, closed yesterday for a two-week remodel. When it reopens, it will see subtle interior and menu changes. It’s all part of Sea Creatures’ effort to put its own spin on the Huxley Wallace restaurants it acquired in July, including Westward, Saint Helens, and the Great State Burger chain.
Erickson says she owes a lot of credit to her mom, who passed on her passion for gardening and cooking. When Erickson purchased Boat Street Cafe, her first restaurant, Shirlee was by her side to help with baking and bookkeeping — and everything in between.
“My mom has always been the one to keep things tidy and flowing smoothly in my life. When I decided to buy the Boat Street Café, it was my mom who, with the full support of my dad and the rest of my family, gave me the organizational power to get it all done,” Erickson said in a statement.
Saint Helens has been a French-leaning brasserie from the start, so regulars won’t see a massive overhaul of the menu. Instead, it sounds like Sea Creatures is bringing things more in line with its own vision and aesthetic.
The restaurant’s logo will sport a squirrel, after Shirlee’s nickname since childhood. The menu will add more local and sustainable sourcing, with new dishes like steak au poivre, the Boat Street pork chop, roast chicken, Parisian gnocchi, tartare, frites, duck confit, and from-scratch charcuterie. One holdover from Saint Helens will be the burger, which will be remade with a dry-aged, grass-fed beef patty from Sea Creatures’ fantastic steakhouse, Bateau. Given that one tantalizing detail alone, this is certainly exciting news.
When it reopens, Bistro Shirlee will serve dinner Monday through Thursday, 4 to 10 p.m., and brunch and dinner Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.