What does it take to get diners to put their phones down and talk to each other? Chef Derek Simcik is hoping the combination of intriguing dishes and conversation starter prompts will prove a winning formula as he unveils the redesigned Conversation today at 5 p.m. on the ground floor of downtown’s Thompson Seattle hotel.
Conversation takes the place of Scout, which Simcik also oversaw. When Scout closed in January, the space at 110 Stewart St. was stripped down to the studs, trading the vintage camping theme for a minimalist, mid-century approach. Brass light fixtures, leather chairs, and black velvet sofas add to the theme. A standalone, wood-panneled fireplace and open kitchen area serve as focal points.
Each table has a set of conversation cards with questions like, “If you could only eat one kind of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?” Diners can contribute ideas, which the restaurant will consider for future card updates.
The menus have been completely redone, too. Now, they’re inspired by Simcik’s international travels, his French culinary training, and his family’s Southern roots. Dishes like stuffed quail and Simcik’s mother’s baked beans live alongside scallops with fennel and nettles. Several dishes involve some surprising quality or inventive presentation, like the split pig’s head that arrives, teeth intact, on a giant platter with kimchi apples, ramps, and cherry ketchup. Pastry chef Kate Sigel’s desserts are just as creative and playful — there’s a fudgesicle with chocolate, honey, and black truffle, and an ice cream sandwich with corn ice cream.
Bar Manager Josh Haddock oversees an impressive wine and beer list, plus a collection of original cocktails. There’s a drink named after a line in Pulp Fiction — called Mia’s Joke — and another called Knight of Cups (lapsang souchong zacapa, nori demerara syrup, pear brandy, oyster bitters, and Pacific sea salt), for which Haddock won a World Class Regional award in the United States Bartenders Guild’s annual cocktail competition.
After today, the restaurant will assume regular hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. The restaurant will serve weekday breakfast and lunch, weekend brunch, and dinner daily.