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.