Una Kim revamped her little restaurant The Faerie Queene, and it feels like more of a treasure than ever.
In a world of replicating restaurants and carefully considered design, one thing gets more and more often left behind: charm. Pittsburgh Lunch & Superette in Pioneer Square doesn’t feel like a “concept” — it feels like a real place, run by a human with a heart, in a neat old neighborhood. Pittsburgh Lunch does not have a color scheme; its quirkiness does not stray into the realm of cute. The small space is a funny shape and the décor defies description; there are plants and a little exposed brick and a general, pleasant hodgepodge. It’s named after a soup kitchen that existed up the street in the Pioneer Building in the 1960s, the same one that became Seattle’s pioneering Brasserie Pittsbourg.
The individual behind Pittsburgh Lunch is chef/owner Una Kim, and she’s got Spring Hill, Matt’s in the Market and Re:Public on her résumé. (She grew up working at her family’s restaurant, Belltown’s dear, departed Noodle Ranch.) She used to call her place The Faerie Queene; the new name and tightened menu aren’t a product of any focus groups, just listening to her customers and figuring out what the neighborhood wanted over time. She’s now serving breakfast and brunch in addition to lunch; there’s still happy hour during the week; and there’s still, funnily, no actual dinner. The food’s still really good.
On (and off) the lunchtime menu: Kim’s not making her excellent cioppino anymore, but her clam chowder is just as outstanding — buttery and rich, but still somehow light, with a little peppery-smokiness and crunchy little house-made croutons for interest. My editor murmured “Yum, yum, yum” to herself while eating it, and we were both chagrined to only belatedly realize that you can order it in a Grand Central Bakery sourdough bread bowl. The shrimp Louie salad hasn’t, thankfully, gone away — all the components are super-fresh, the perfectly cooked shrimp is chimichurri-marinated, and the dressing’s got a kick of spicy heat. Kim had taken her penne and cheese off the menu, but now it’s back — get the one with chorizo, for it is really, really good. The turkey and the roast-beef sandwiches feature house-roasted meats; more salads include a chicken kale Caesar, a wedge and a chop. Kim says she’s “taking classic favorites and making them extra-good,” and she’s right.
Pittsburgh Lunch & Superette
Cafe, corner store
90 Yesler Way (Pioneer Square), Seattle; Monday-Friday breakfast 8-10 a.m., lunch 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., happy hour 3:30-6:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday brunch 10:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m.; 206-816-0522; pittsburghlunch.com
At happy hour: Snacks or a light supper at Pittsburgh Lunch with a $5 pint of the day or $6 house wine sounds like a capital way to end the day.
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The Superette: Kim noticed a need and installed a funny little in-a-pinch shop on premises so neighbors can grab an organic onion, gummi bears, Scotch tape, batteries, a pint of cream … disorganized and diverse, it’s charming, too.
Prices: A bowl of clam chowder ($6, bread bowl $4 extra), a shrimp Louie salad ($12) and chorizo mac ’n’ cheese ($12) made a nice lunch for two for $30 before tax and tip.