Two-month-old Grub on Queen Anne is a stylishly informal, come-as-you-are neighborhood eatery cooking up high-quality comfort food for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. It's lively with families in the early evening, mellower after 7.
Looking around at all the families sharing a weeknight dinner at Sharon Woo Fillingim’s new Queen Anne restaurant, I wondered if the parents were silently uttering this before-meal grace: Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for Grub.
At a glass-topped communal table in the middle of the boisterous dining room, two little girls kept busy doing word puzzles while the adults talked. Another family sat at the counter: One youngster read a book; her brother thumbed a gaming device; their parents shared an iPad. A tired-looking couple along the banquette had an infant carrier and a stroller parked next to them. (The restaurant seats 38 at widely spaced tables that allow plenty of room for such equipment.)
This preponderance of progeny doesn’t surprise Fillingim, a Queen Anne mom herself. There are five elementary schools in the neighborhood, she said in a phone interview. She had her third-grader taste test the kid’s menu.
At night, the 12-and-under set has the option of grilled chicken with salad, a small steak with roasted veggies, and a hot dog and fries; still I saw a lot of mac ‘n’ cheese going by. The good news for everyone past middle-school age: Those elbows, “ooey and gooey” with medium-sharp cheddar, butter and béchamel, and topped with crumbled house-made bacon, are on the adult menu, too.
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Around 7:30, 2-month-old Grub mellows a bit, but it remains an informal, come-as-you-are, neighborhood place cooking up high-quality comfort food. Couples and foursomes wander in, and the noise level drops to a convivial hum, with conversations fueled with beer (three on tap) and wine poured by the taste, glass, carafe or bottle. (A spirit license is in the plans.)
Time then to admire the intricate shadow cast on the ceiling by a large globe made of twigs, the pale duck-egg blue of the walls, and the whimsical, blackboard- paneled door listing the day’s specials.
Hand-cut noodles were recently among them. Similar to the dense, ragged strands you find in Chinese restaurants, these were coated with peppery arugula pesto and laced with cherry tomatoes, zucchini and slices of sweet potato.
Among the inventive salads, I especially liked the lemon and tahini-dressed kale, chick pea and roasted cauliflower ensemble, even though it lacked the promised mint. Citrus-dressed farro with red grapefruit, spinach, avocado and hazelnuts delivered a pleasantly bitter, richly textured mouthful, but the grapefruit was scarce.
Tender raw spinach leaves cushioned a delicate midday omelet, catching the basil pesto seeping from a filling of slow-roasted tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Tortilla soup was an equally satisfying and filling lunch, its sweet, tomato-rich broth crowded with chicken, corn, black beans and strips of corn tortilla.
Dinner entrees can be light or lavish. Seafood fumé delivered a bright chorus of earth and ocean flavors: salmon, cod and many tiny clams joined fennel, leek and turnips in a brilliant green onion-y broth. Excellent, almond-thickened Romesco sauce brought garlicky goodness to bear on a grilled pork rib chop that was just a little dry around the edge.
If the chicken of the day is fried, you’re in for a treat: an exceptionally moist bird encased in crackling, evenly browned armor. Its companions were just right, too: vinegary braised mustard greens and a tiny skillet of smoky, sweet baked beans.
You hardly need a starter with such hearty entrees, but for an agreeable and shareable appetizer, try the slab of grill-warmed feta served with roasted fruits and vegetables. The recent seasonal selection included sliced tomatoes, summer squash and nectarines.
Julio Sanchez and Candy Kirihara share the cooking duties at the restaurant. The divine layer cakes and pies are by Fillingim, a skilled baker who founded nearby Le Reve Bakery.
The biscuits featured at weekend brunch are hers, too, which will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the rest of Fillingim’s résumé. Years ago she was a co-owner of Jimmy’s Table and before that Cool Hand Luke. She relinquished her interest in Le Reve earlier this year, but, says this daughter of restaurateurs who has spent 30 years in the business herself, “I didn’t feel like I was done yet.”
Providence Cicero, Seattle Times restaurant critic, co-hosts “Let’s Eat” with Terry Jaymes at 4 p.m. Saturdays on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. Listen to past shows at www.KIRORadio.com/letseat. Reach Cicero at firstname.lastname@example.org.