From the moment it started coming out of the ground, the proverbial buzz began to build (so to speak) around the 5th and Madison building (appropriately named since it’s located in downtown Seattle at Fifth Avenue and Madison Street). The new condominium complex, located smack-dab in the center of Seattle’s downtown Financial District and across the street from the Rem Koolhaas-designed downtown Seattle Public Library, is a gorgeous glass monolith with an large outdoor plaza with water features and greenery–a favorite play space for the building’s resident dogs.
About the only thing lacking in the glitzy development was an upscale restaurant. Answering the clarion call came the third location of the “Napa-Valley-inspired” Sip. at the wine bar & restaurant, whose two other locations are in Issaquah and Gig Harbor.
On one of the coldest days of winter so far, a Wednesday in early December, we met friends who actually live at Fifth & Madison for a quick drink and tour of their condo before heading down the elevator and out the door to Sip.
Immediately, we were taken with the restaurant’s dramatic design, from the living-room-like feel of the “Great Room” to the expansive wall of wine to the bold and whimsical wine-related artwork on the walls. Warm, earthy hues and plush leathers dominate; a bustling vibe and interesting blend of people–from downtown office workers to downtown-dwelling empty nesters to 20-somethings out for drinks and apps–adds to an atmosphere of relaxed, adult sophistication. An added bonus? Northwest jazz musicians perform live on Thursday evenings.
According to a press release: “Guests will find a cozy yet stylish ambiance with an impressive wine selection and distinctly flavorful food,” says founder Lane Scelzi. “Many wineries in Napa Valley capture that feeling and that’s what we’ve achieved with Sip., all while adding our own distinct Northwest flavor.”
At the heart of Sip. Seattle sits a huge, granite-topped bar that overlooks both the dining area and the patio. I can’t wait to try Sip during the summer, since the patio–one of the most expansive outdoor dining spaces in all of downtown–features a fireplace, a lush grassy area, and views of Elliott Bay.
Now. . .enough with the bells and whistles–let’s get down to the food. Here’s the Bibb Salad, a towering mound of whole Bibb lettuce, marinated tomatoes, Nueskie’s smoked bacon, Point Reyes blue cheese, and Dungeness Crab. Sauced with Point Reyes blue cheese dressing, it was so plentiful, I could gladly have eaten this as my main course!
My meat-eating hubby highly recommended the Short Ribs, which the well-written menu describes as, “boneless ribs, parmesan “jo-jos,” arugula salad, meyer lemon, gremolata, parmigiano, and red-wine braising jus.” Discussion around the table centered around exactly what “jo-jos” are. I’ve always thought they were simply flour-coated (so they stay nice and crispy), deep-fried potato wedges that originated on the West Coast. I was introduced to them at the old Deluxe Bar-B-Que in the Pike Place Market, although since that space has morphed into a sushi joint, I haven’t seen them in the take-away case in years.
I was in the mood for Black Cod, a.k.a. Sablefish, a fish I reported on in one of my recent Seattle Times Taste columns. This rendition skewed traditionally Asian, with a red-miso marinade, edamame wasabi “mash,” herb daikon slaw, fried shallots, cilantro oil, and sweet-chili butter. And even though it looked like a bit of a mash-up, the elements flowed as harmoniously as a Japanese fountain.
The female half of our dynamic-dining duo ordered the Jidori Chicken Confit. For those of you who don’t know, Jidori is a trademarked name of a very special type of chicken beloved by chefs in the know. According to the Jidori Web site, their birds “are raised cage-free, fed all-natural grain with no meat by-products, and without any hormones or steroids.” There must be something to their claims, since our friend, a long-time foodie and wine lover, pronounced the dish well prepared and the chicken very tasty. The “cured natural heirloom chicken hind quarter” was served with roasted-garlic mashers, brown-butter-basted Brussels-sprouts salad (the leaves painstakingly separated from their cores like frilly miniature lettuce leaves!), and garlic butter.
Sated and happy, we passed on dessert (as we usually do) in favor of finishing the last dregs of our bottle of Washington-state red wine. But I must admit that the Roasted Sugar Pie Pumpkin Cheesecake and the Hot Buttered Rum Brulée were tempting sweet options.
As you’d expect, Sip’s beverage program is impressive. The restaurant features nearly 70 wines by the glass; more than 250 bottles from the Pacific Northwest, California, and around the globe; a wide range of red, white, rosé wine, and champagne flights; nearly 15 domestic and imported beers; and cocktails made with fresh and natural ingredients.
Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week, happy hour is offered Monday through Friday 4:30 to 6:30.
Cheers to Sip. Seattle, and welcome to the neighborhood!