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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: tabletalkradio.net
Photo credit: http://tabletalkradio.net

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: NewVeganTable.com
Photo credit: NewVeganTable.com

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)!

Featured photo from SeattleMet.com.

Spring has sprung on E. Madison, and there are several Madison Valley and Madison Park events to look forward to in April!

  1. BIG NOTE: Rover’s was originally scheduled to turn the lights off in April, but they’ve extended their closure to near the end of May (currently May 25th)! Get your reservation for one of Rover’s last meals, before the restaurant closes for good. Their phone number is 206-325-7442.
  2. Photo credit: madisonparkcouncil.org
    Photo credit: madisonparkcouncil.org

    All April – Madison Park Art Walk Call for Artists: Artists interested in participating in the Madison Park Art Walk (September 13 – October 4) need to contact Heidi Randall to receive information to apply. Artists must apply by May 15th to participate.

  3. April 1 – Monthly Madison Park Community Council Meeting: This month’s community council meeting will host John Klicka, a biology professor from the University of Washington. John is also the curator of birds for the Burke Museum, and will be addressing the topic of eagles in the Madison Park neighborhood – including Eddie, the eagle killed on the 520 Bridge last year. The Council meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on April 1st at the Madison Park Bath House.
  4. April Saturdays and Sundays – Workshops at City People’s Garden Store: On scattered Saturdays and Sundays in April, City People’s Garden Store will be holding workshops on gardening and the outdoors. Subjects include Season Extension and Hoop Houses, Managing Pests in Fruit Trees, Succession Gardening: Flowers All Year Round, Bird’s Eye View Family Workshop, and Growing Great Tomatoes. Most classes run from 11 a.m. to noon. Check out their website for more information, or to register, email them here.
  5. SeattleRestaurantWk1April 7-11 & 14-18 – Seattle Restaurant Week: Plenty of Madison Park and Madison Valley restaurants are participating! Café Parco, Luc, Café Flora, Crush, Daniel’s Broiler in Leschi, The Harvest Vine, Voila! Bistrot, and Restaurant Bea are included. Restaurant Week is when eateries all over the city serve prix-fixe menus of three courses for $28.
  6. April 13 – Historic Seattle 2013 Building Renovation Fair: Learn how to maintain or renovate your historic Seattle home at this fair. Meet experts in old buildings, such as salvage houses, architects for restoration and renovation, and more. The fair is on Saturday, April 13th at the Washington Hall a little ways south of Madison Valley on 14th Ave. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find more information on the Historic Seattle website.
  7. April 17 – Monthly Merchants Association Meeting: The Merchants Association meeting for April will take place on April 17th at 8:30 a.m. at Café Flora. Business owners and associates, community members, and anyone interested is welcome to attend.
  8. April 17 – 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 April 17th. The meeting will be held at The Valley School at 7 p.m.
  9. April 27 – Madison Street Neighborhood Clean-Up: Join your fellow neighbors in a community clean-up! This event is taking place in the Madison Valley section of E. Madison, cleaning between 23rd and 30th streets by weeding, painting over graffiti, and planting flowers to make the neighborhood look great for summer. Anyone is welcome to participate, and free coffee will be provided by Harbour Pointe Coffee, with free pastries by Harvest Vine and Luc. The clean-up starts at 9 a.m. at Harbour Pointe Coffee. Contact Lindy Wishard (president@madisonvalley.org) with questions.

Featured photo from Seattle Times’ Restaurant Week Website.

Madison Park and Madison Valley feature some of Seattle’s best when it comes to restaurants and foodie-favorites! Here at the Madison Park in Seattle blog, we thought we’d like to give one of those eateries their own spotlight on a monthly basis, so this month’s feature is on Café Parco!

After August 2011 when the Madison Park Café closed in the cozy restaurant space on 42nd Avenue E where it had been for 32 years, Café Parco moved in. Chef and owner Celinda Norton has been a restaurant owner for 32 years – her restaurant before Café Parco was 94 Stewart in Pike Place Market where she worked her craft for more than six years. Check out the photos below:

Café Parco opened for business in Madison Park in October 2011, and remembers wanting to open what she called a “New World Italian” restaurant with outdoor seating options. Café Parco’s location at 1807 42nd Ave. E fit the bill. It was a big change from the busy Pike Place Market eatery she had owned and run before.

Initially, Norton had hoped to offer unique dishes and culinary creations within New World Italian cuisine, but the neighborhood seemed to be looking for more recognizable menu items. “We reeled back on my art to bring dishes that our guests could have seven days a week,” Norton says. “We branch out a little more in the summer.”

However, that’s hardly to say that Café Parco sacrificed on quality. “We’re always focused on what’s fresh today,” she said. “Italian is a style that allows the quality of the ingredients to show.” From butter-braised shellfish as an appetizer to chicken parmigiana, the dinner menu is full of delicious offerings in Italian cuisine, all prepared by Celinda Norton herself. That’s right – no supporting kitchen staff for this chef!

The outdoor patio offers great opportunities for outdoor dining during the spring and the summer, and the front patio can also seat guests comfortable for a more intimate outdoor setting. Celinda herself recommends the front porch for one of the most romantic dining spots in the city – perfect for a date!

As a whole, Café Parco is an intimate, romantic dining experience. The small room feels cozy and warm, with rich décor to inspire a mood that you’re sitting in some quaint Italian town instead of Seattle’s Madison Park neighborhood. There’s a private dining space downstairs for events and parties, which will be available for use in the spring. Madison Park restaurant Café Parco also offers takeout options on all of their menu items, for more convenience to their customers.

Café Parco is open daily for dinner at 5 p.m., and serves breakfast and lunch on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (reservations recommended). Parco also features an extensive wine list, with offerings by region and even a collection from the Parco cellar.