A 2½-star review of the new Fremont restaurant Eve, which Seattle Times restaurant critic Providence Cicero calls “haute hippie cuisine” veering toward vegetables and grains, and offering some vegan options, but by and for omnivores.
The new Fremont restaurant Eve is a good-looking place full of good-looking people. Staff and customers alike look like they started the day doing yoga.
The offspring of industry veterans Debra Russell and Jill Buchanan, Eve is particularly well-suited to its time and place. It provides common ground for the aging bohemians and young techies who coexist at the Center of the Universe to commune over ancient grains, bison burgers and bone broth.
Russell and Buchanan call their concept “kind food,” good for the body and the environment. I’d call it haute hippie cuisine. The menu swerves hard toward vegetables and grains, even offering some vegan options, but Eve is by and for omnivores.
704 N. 34th Street, Seattle
Hours: dinner 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday
Drinks: full bar; cocktails, beer, cider, organic & biodynamic wines
Service: serene and engaging
Parking: on street or nearby lots
Sound: loud when there’s a full house
Who should go: a good bet for a business lunch, a girlfriend gabfest or a date; suitable for omnivores, vegetarians and vegans
Night or day, a virtual stampede of bison burgers passes through the dining room. It’s a very good burger, notable for pickled apple slices, black garlic aioli and a Macrina Bakery ciabatta bun that holds it all together handily. With lotus root, taro and sweet potato among the veggie chips by its side, I didn’t miss fries.
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Eve’s “hot bowl” has almost as many takers. I loved that vinaigrette-sparked mix of grains (farro, freekah, wild rice and black barley) and vegetables (grilled asparagus, radishes, carrots, cherry tomatoes and golden beets) interposed with pepitas, almonds and sesame seeds. It sounds virtuous, but tastes voluptuous, with or without the addition of a poached egg.
Voluptuous also describes the restaurant. From a certain distance you discern that those black brush strokes on a white wall are the nude contours of a reclining woman. Nearby hangs a painting of a ripe pomegranate bursting with seeds. Buxom brass pendants hang from the ceiling and multiply in distressed mirrors on the walls. Come dusk, candles twinkle on every possible perch.
Russell and Buchanan designed the sensuous space. Russell was pleased to finally exercise her interior-design degree after nearly 25 years of front-of-the-house jobs at such restaurants as The Whale Wins and Cantinetta. She and Buchanan, co-owner of Lecosho, have been friends since they waited tables together at Il Bistro in the early ’90s.
Tasked with interpreting their healthy vision is executive chef Jason McCollum, a Culinary Institute of America grad who lists Momofuku and the Nashville steakhouse Union Common on his résumé. “We threw him a curveball when we asked him to do something using nutritional yeast,” says Russell, who likes to sprinkle the stuff on salads. McCollum mixed it with a touch of tamari and cider from next-door-neighbor Schilling, reducing it to a “tasty sauce” for roasted cauliflower and crunchy fried chickpeas. The dish is one of the menu’s highlights.
He’s experimenting, as well, with miso. Mussels are steamed in a miso broth sharpened with shiso and yuzu. Miso also boosted a peppery, herb-packed porcini mushroom soup. Sous chef Jon Norgren and lunch cook Ben Seavey create the daily soup for the lunch menu; bone broth is on the dinner menu.
On my visit, chicken and miso met in a restorative, dark-as-coffee elixir that tasted like liquid marrow. “Chicken fried barley” had a similar flavor, as if the grains were simmered in bone broth. Richer yet less compelling than the veggie hot bowl, the barley contained carrots, green beans and roasted chicken shards, and sprouted crackling wings of chicken skin that were excessively salty.
Under-seasoning is more common here. Had there been salt on the table, I’d have added a pinch to the yellow beet hummus and the roasted red pepper baba ganoush, offered at lunch along with the zestier tahini-based goddess dip and triangles of fresh piadina, an Italian flatbread. Rabbit terrine was both bland and rubbery, upstaged at every bite by its pickled companions: fennel, radish and young green almonds.
Salads consistently found equilibrium. A warm tangle of red beets, orange segments, mizuna, shaved fennel and walnuts nestled in a bowl lined with tangy crema that hinted of cumin and cinnamon. Pickled green strawberries and grated orange zest accented arugula and pears in a musky goat cheese vinaigrette. In a thoroughly invigorating ensemble dubbed “Not Noodles,” crushed hazelnuts, fresh mint and a fruity, gingery dressing clung to crisp, spaghetti-like strands of summer squash.
Bone broth $6
“Not noodles” $9
Bison burger $16
Mussels in miso broth $20
Pork chop with lentils $26
It was no surprise to find carrot cake among the desserts here. What did surprise was a creamy coconut milk gelato with poached fruit and shortbread crumbles, a winning dessert both vegan and gluten-free.
I expected to find Eden, the first time I went to Eve. Instead the packed house on a Friday night was bedlam. The din was daunting, despite Persian carpets on the floors and Tectum noise-control panels near the ceiling. When the server with a gauzy blouse and the face of an angel perched next to me on the banquette to better hear my questions, it felt like she was talking me down from the ledge.
A midweek dinner was far mellower, and I could have lingered for hours over lunch, with light pouring through the high transoms and Tony Bennett crooning love songs. In fact, Eve exists in part because its owners perceived a shortage of such lunch spots. As Russell put it, “A really nice room with food you can eat all the time.” Mission accomplished, ladies.