Norelle Done


From Mother’s Day to happenings at the Volunteer Park Conservatory, there’s a fun handful of Madison Park events and activities near the neighborhood in May! Check out our list:

  1. May 4 – Free First Saturday at the Seattle Asian Art Museum: The Seattle Asian Art Museum offers free admission to families on the first Saturday of every month. (The first Thursday of the month is free for everyone, and first Fridays of the month for seniors). The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  2. May 9 – Botanical Exotica Evening Exhibition: View a ‘Monumental Collection of the Rare and Beautiful’ from Master Glass artist Jason Gamrath. This exhibition takes place at the Volunteer Park Conservatory, from 5 – 8 p.m., and will be free admission. Visit the Volunteer Park Conservatory website for more information.
  3. May 11 & 12 – Spring Plant Sale with Friends of the Conservatory: Join other community members and neighbors in front of the Volunteer Park Conservatory on May 11th and 12th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. noon to see the conservatory’s selection of indoor and outdoor plants for sale. Just in time for Mother’s Day. Also, on May 12th, you can make a Tussie Mussie bouquet for mom from noon to 3 p.m. ($5 suggested donation).
  4. May 12 – Mother’s Day Brunch at Café Flora: Our local vegetarian/vegan eatery, Café Flora is hosting a special Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday, May 12th. Start with a Citrus Napoleon and fresh baked pastries, then choose from Duck Egg and Root Vegetable Latke Benedict, Strawberry Tiramisu French Toast, or Wild Mushroom Spring Sopes. For dessert, you can enjoy a Theo Trio, Wonderwoman Trifle, or Mango Sorbet. Check out the full menu on their website. Brunch will be served between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and is $30 for adults and $15 for children. Reserve your table by calling 206-325-9100.
  5. May 12 – Mother’s Day Brunch at Luc: Another Madison Valley restaurant, Luc, is doing a Mother’s Day Brunch. Their three-course prix-fixe menu is $35 per person, and will be served between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The menu features some more afternoon items, so you could have brunch at Café Flora, then head to Luc for a late lunch! Call 206-328-6645 to make a reservation.
  6. May 15 – Monthly Merchants Association Meeting: The Merchants Association meeting for May will take place on May 15th at 8:30 a.m. at Café Flora. Business owners and associates, as well as community members, and anyone else in the Madison Valley neighborhood are welcome to attend.
  7. May 15 – Monthly Madison Valley Community Council Meeting: Residents, merchants, and anyone with an interest in Madison Valley are encouraged to participate in the monthly Madison Valley Community Council Meeting coming up on May 15th. The meeting will be held at The Valley School at 7 p.m.

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Again, the Madison Park neighborhood saw very little in terms of crime last month, but residents and business owners should stay alert about security – particularly as summer approaches and the annual barrage of visitors to the area arrives.

The Madison Park Blogger reported several burglaries and one or two harassment situations handled by police last month. For a more widespread summary of Madison Park crime and criminal activity in Seattle as a whole, check out the SPD Quarterly Report.

There were two more major items in SPD news that Madison Park and Madison Valley residents should be aware of:

  • SPD Chief Diaz Retires: Seattle Police Department Chief John Diaz announced his retirement on Monday, April 8th. He became chief of the department in 2009, and has been at the helm of a number of important investigations and improvements, including an eleven percent drop in major crimes in Seattle, making police information and data more accessible online, and cracking down on sexual exploitation of children by online means. When the retirement is finalized in May, Diaz will be replaced by Assistant Chief Jim Pugel as Interim Chief.
  • Repair Scam Stopped: A father-and-son scam team was arrested on April 9th for suspicion of targeting elderly people with a car dent repair scam. The pair has been reported up and down the I-5 corridor from Seattle to Portland. According to victim accounts, the men would approach an intended victim as they were near their car in a store parking lot. Then they would indicate something on the victim’s car that needed repair, apply primer paint or wax, and then tell them the two would buff it off later (giving a fictitious location). Victims report being intimidated to pay for the ‘repair’ and lost between $400-700.  SPD tracked the men down through the rental car they were using, and subsequently arrested them on April 9th. An investigation into the full extent of their crimes continues.

Stay safe, Madison Park and Madison Valley!

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For this month’s Madison Park restaurant spotlight, we’re pleased to shine some more light on the Madison Park Conservatory.

The Madison Park restaurant opened in November of 2010. Its owners, Bryan Jarr and Cormac Mahoney, wanted “to do food that was rustic in nature but still used high-quality ingredients … a mix of a family meal and fine dining,” says Bryan.

“We were playing with the idea of nature, with the Arboretum and other parks around … We wanted it to be a space where you could learn and experiment with different food and flavors.”

With its clean white walls and sparse décor, the restaurant has a welcoming, simple atmosphere. Hanging lamps with an exotic, maybe Marrakesh-inspired mood hang from the ceiling, and your eye is drawn up the room to the far wall where a large antler rack hangs, flanked by two rusted iron farm tools.

Upstairs in the Library Study Lounge (part of which is separated out for more private group dining around a large family-style table), the fresh, rustic ambiance continues. The bar, benches, and large dining table are made from the old wood of barge planking. Along the ends of the planks are hefty metal plugs with a unique story, according to the Conservatory’s co-owner, Jarr:

When the I-90 bridge sank in 1990 (see 4th paragraph), the Irish Foundry in SODO crafted the plugs as a joke – apparently the rumor is that part of the reason why the bridge sank was because someone left a hatch open. Bryan has a background in public affairs, where he worked on the Washington Bridge project (520 bridge). A colleague of his had given him one of these joke plugs because of his work with the project, and Bryan had always used it as a paperweight. When constructing the bar for the Madison Park Conservatory, the plug just happened to fit in the holes left by the riveting drills necessary to hold the planks of the bar together. Bryan tracked down the Irish Foundry, who so happened to still have the mold for the plugs, and sent him a batch.

It’s a unique bit of history from the area, with a personal flair from co-owner Bryan Jarr’s background.

But let’s get back to the restaurant as a whole.

“We’re first a Seattle restaurant,” Jarr says. “Our food doesn’t slant toward one ethnicity or another.”

The menu at the restaurant can pretty much change on a daily basis, but there are one or two things that stick around consistently. The Deviled Eggs, made with Dungeness crab and pimento; Treasure Cove oysters are another – made with pink peppercorn mignonette and lemon. The Beef Tongue at Madison Park Conservatory was the first item ordered when the restaurant opened in the end of 2010 – “and it wasn’t even ordered by a friend,” Jarr adds.

To pair with the food, Madison Park Conservatory’s wine list pretty much sticks to the Old World wines. “We’ve found that Old World wines from Italy and France really pair well with our foods – there’s a fair amount of acid, with the citrus and things like that, and Old World wines compliment that well without overpowering the food,” Bryan said. The wine list does change on occasion, as well, with different vintages.

Dine in the main dining room Tuesdays through Saturdays, or up in the Library Study Lounge. There’s a separate menu for the upstairs lounge, which features most of the regulars from downstairs, plus some more snacks like fries with aioli and tomato chutney, olives and pickles, or a made-from-scratch, natural beef burger (available only upstairs in the Lounge).  The Lounge is also open Monday nights, whereas the main dining room is not.

As a side note, the Madison Park Conservatory can serve private dinners in the upstairs Library Study, and is happy to work with larger parties for renting out the whole restaurant, or either the Lounge or dining room areas. The restaurant is also very happy to customize a special menu for your occasion.

The Madison Park restaurant also does the occasional wine dinner or farm dinner.

For the month of April (until they receive 51 photos), the Madison Park Conservatory is running a special – bring in your High School yearbook photo, and each photo-carrying member of your group will receive 50% off their meal.

Seattle Restaurant Week begins this Sunday, April 7th! Plenty of eateries around the city will be participating, with three-course dinner menus for $28, and some will serve three course lunch menus for $15. Several Madison Park restaurants, as well as dining spots in Madison Valley will be doing special prix-fixe menus for Restaurant Week as well.

Between Sunday and Thursday nights, April 7th through 11th and 14th through 18th, the following restaurants will be serving their Restaurant Week menus (many offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options!):


Photo credit: GoingForSeconds Blog.
Photo credit: GoingForSeconds Blog.

CRUSH: Appetizer options include Wild Foraged Spring Greens and Herbed Chevre with Shaved Radishes & Sherry Vinaigrette; Country Style Pate with Pistachios, Syrah Mostarda, Pickled Vegetables & Toasts; or Stinging Nettle Chowder with Chamomile Creme Fraiche & Butter Clams. Entrée selections are Slow Braised Pork Cheeks with Creamed Kale & Smoked Onion Grits; Soft Poached Chicken Egg with Hand Cut Linguini & Porcini Mushroom Gruyere Cream, Mustard Greens; or Roasted Spring Chicken Breast with Young Vegetables & Lemon Thyme Mascarpone. Finally, choices for dessert include an Artisan Cheese Daily selection; Jasmine and Blood Orange Creme Brulée; or Chocolate peanut butter banana Sundae with Salted Caramel ice cream. Make a reservation online, or call 206-302-7874.


Photo credit: Flickr user By_stina.
Photo credit: Flickr user By_stina.

VOILÀ BISTROT: Enjoy a selection of appetizers from the following: Beets Carpaccio and Goat Cheese; the Soup of the Day; or a Charcuterie Plate. Entrée selections include Braised Coq au Vin; House-Made Gnocchi and Pesto Pinenut Sauce; or Trout Amandine with Watercress. Choose one from the following desserts: Poine Belle Helene; a Chef Selection; or Sorbet. Call to reserve your table: 206-322-5460, or reserve online here.


Photo credit: Norelle Done
Photo credit: Norelle Done

CAFÉ PARCO: This Madison Park restaurant has a lot to choose from for their Restaurant Week prix-fixe menu! Click here for more details on the ingredients in each course option. Appetizer choices include a House Salad (gluten free), Spring Salad, Parco Caprese, Fried Mozzarella, or Fondue. Choose from the following entrée items: Pork Cacciatore, Chianti Beef (gluten free), Baked Chicken with Preserved Lemon, House Made Ragu with Italian Sausage, Carbonara di Mare, or Squash Pomodoro (gluten free). Dessert items include a Flourless Chocolate Cake (gluten free), Turtle Sundae, Cheesecake, or a Limoncello Cake. Make your reservation online, or call 206-328-4757.


Photo credit: The Harvest Vine.
Photo credit: The Harvest Vine.

THE HARVEST VINE: Choose from appetizer options such as Gazpacho Andaluz: chilled tomato soup with cucumber and roasted peppers; Remolachas: Red and golden beats with sherry vinegar and olive oil; or Caballa en Escabeche: marinated mackerel with soft boiled egg. Entrée selections include Setas y Arroz: wild mushrooms with saffron bomba rice; Trucha: pan fried trout with hazelnut picada and roasted potatoes; or Cordero en Crujiente: braised lamb wrapped in pastry with root vegetables. Finally, the dessert choices are Flan de Café: creamy Spanish style espresso custard with chocolate ganache; Arroz con Leche: rice pudding with citrus; or Tarta de Aceite: white wine olive oil cake with whipped cream. Reserve your table online, or call 206-320-9771 for reservations.


Photo credit:
Photo credit:

LUC: This Madison Valley hotspot has a great prix-fixe menu planned for Seattle Restaurant Week. Appetizer items to choose from are French Onion Soup Gratinée, Boston Lettuce Salad with a Red Wine Vinaigrette, or Chicken Liver Mousse with Apple Gelée and Toasted Baguette. Choose from the following entrée items: Braised Pork Cheek with Mustard Greens and Parsnip Mash Au Jus, Steamed Mussels & Clams in a Saffron Broth with Rouille Crostinis, or Roasted Cauliflower, Lentils, Carrot, Vegetable Demi-Glace with Harissa and Spring Greens. The dessert selections are Chocolate Terrine, topped with Blood Orange Caramel, a Floating Island with Toasted Almond Brittle, or Yogurt Bavarian with Confit Rhubarb and a Sablé Cookie. Make a reservation online, or call 206-328-6645 to hold your table.


Photo credit:
Photo credit:

CAFÉ FLORA: All of this Madison Valley restaurant’s fare for the week is at least vegetarian, with a lot of it being vegan and gluten free as well. This is also the only restaurant in our neighborhood with both a lunch and dinner menu available for Restaurant Week:

  • Lunch (3 courses for $15): Appetizer items are Seasonal Soup, an Orvieto Salad, or Crunchy Strawberry French Toast. Lunch entrée choices include Asparagus and Feta Scramble, Tortilla Espanola “Spanish omelet”, or a French Dip sandwich. Choose from dessert items such as White Chocolate Pudding, Chocolate Peanut Butter and Jelly Pie, or a Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble.
  • Dinner (3 courses for $28): Dinner appetizer options include Seasonal Soup, Asparagus Rhubarb Salad, or a Pate Platter. Entrée selections are Oazaca Tacos, Socca Fritters, or Wild Mushroom Spring Linguini. Choose from the following desserts: Hot Cocoa Cake, Chocolate and Peanut Butter and Jelly Pie, or a Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble.

Click here for more details on menu items. Café Flora does not take reservations for parties of under six guests. If your party has more than six, please call 206-325-9100 to request a table.

Happy Restaurant Week, and enjoy your meal(s)!

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