After eight years, downtown French restaurant Loulay Kitchen and Bar from famed chef Thierry Rautureau has officially closed permanently. “Covid has been hard on a lot of us, and Loulay is no different,” Rautureau wrote in an August 9 announcement. “After been closed for over a year, we have decided to let it go. We are very sad to have come to this decision and really want to thank all of you for your support over the years. Many friendships and memories have been created and will not be forgotten.”
Named for his hometown of Saint Hilaire de Loulay in France, Loulay was Rautureau’s first project after he closed his Madison Valley fine dining mainstay Rover’s in 2013 after more than 25 years, and it was a sibling to the more casual Luc. The menu included tributes to the chef’s childhood memories, such as a hot chocolate with brioche and salted butter based on his grandparents’ recipe, as well as other popular items such as duck confit sliders. Inside, there was a little more flash than Rover’s and Luc in Madison Valley, with three levels and all-day accommodations meant to appeal to office workers, tourists, and the theater crowd.
Loulay also seemed to be a mainstream critical darling. Not long after it opened, the Seattle Times heaped praise on some of the French standards on offer, including a “definitive French onion soup” that “distills veal bones and onions into a dark, insanely delicious liquid,” and its “robustly flavored” burger topped with seared foie gras and bacon-shallot jam. In 2013, it landed a spot on Zagat’s 25 most important restaurants of the year, and Seattle Met declared it the best restaurant of 2014.
But Loulay ended up closing when the pandemic first impacted the Seattle area in 2020 and was never able to open back up, even when COVID-related capacity restrictions were finally lifted. Rautureau’s announcement also comes not long after the chef told customers via email in early July that Luc would permanently close at the end of summer after 10 years. The bistro is currently serving some farewell meals, with plans to shut the doors for good on August 28.
Meanwhile, Rautureau said he and his wife Kathy would soon be taking time to “reflect on our lives past, present, and future,” and seemed to indicate he wouldn’t pursue any new Seattle restaurant projects. When asked if he was retiring, the chef tells Eater Seattle “semi retirement is more what I would call it … I will be doing some consulting in the future. But, yes, it’s time for the youngs to move forward and carry the torch.”
- Thank You for the Memories [Chef in the Hat Official]
- Madison Valley French Favorite Luc to Close at the End of August After 11 Years [ESEA]
- All coverage of Loulay Kitchen and Bar [ESEA]