A new dining destination from a familiar name has just landed in West Seattle. Haymaker — the fifth restaurant from prolific star chef Brian Clevenger — opens today on California Avenue, bringing mainly American bistro fare (with a little French, too) in a bright, airy space. Clevenger, who also owns nearby Raccolto, in addition to the acclaimed Vendemmia, East Anchor Seafood, and Le Messe, is a neighborhood resident and hopes this place reflects his roots well. As those familiar with Clevenger’s more Italian-leaning spots might have guessed, there are some signature house-made pastas on the menu at Haymaker, including a tonnarelli with rabbit bolognese and whipped lardo. There’s also plenty of seafood and vegetable plates with ingredients sourced locally, like the heirloom tomatoes and roasted carrots from Frog Hollow Farm in Walla Walla.
But Clevenger is also trying to spread his wings a bit in the entree department, showcasing more proteins on the menu than he’s done in the past, and opening up a newer bag of tricks. For instance, the Snake River Farms pork collar is brined and marinated for 24 hours and cooked sous vide for 10 hours more, then finished with a pesto-like salmoriglio and mission figs. There’s a roasted duck served off the bone, with local stone fruit, and grilled spring onion. And Haymaker will also be the first time Clevenger has featured a burger.
The drinks menu will change seasonally, but diners can expect about 5-6 original summer cocktails to start, along with local beer and wine. Haymaker will have two happy hours every day (from 5-6 p.m. and 9-10 p.m.), with the burger for $8, along with $2 oysters, and an ahi crudo with citrus shaved ice for $9. For those who want a fancier experience, the restaurant will offer one seating each night for a chef’s tasting menu ($75), reservation only. Brunch will come soon, featuring buttermilk biscuits with pork gravy and sage, chicken fried steak with hash browns, and breakfast sandwiches.
Atmosphere-wise, Haymaker doesn’t stray far from Clevenger’s usual relaxed ethos. “I want people to feel comfortable,” he tells Eater Seattle. “And I like the idea of transparency.” That means the open kitchen and dining room (with seating for around 50) allows chefs to keep an eye on customers and make sure things are in order. It also means there isn’t too much fussing when it comes to each dish, which usually highlights just three main ingredients. Clevenger aims for simplicity, with refinement. Decor is minimal, although the windows looking out onto bustling California Avenue let in a lot of light.
“When I first saw the space, I just fell in love with it,” says Clevenger. “This part of West Seattle is underappreciated.”
Haymaker — across the street from neighborhood mainstay Husky Deli and down the road from the ever-popular Ma’ono — lands in a prime location. It will also have some competition from a growing number of hot new spots in the West Seattle area, with Mike Easton’s pasta palace Il Nido opening this spring in Alki and the highly anticipated Harry’s Beach House planned soon, not to mention the burgeoning restaurant scene in White Center. Westside for the win.