The former owners of Sutra in Seattle serve wildly refined eight-course dinners two nights a week.
IN BAVARIAN-THEMED Leavenworth, Colin Patterson and Amber Tande follow a road less traveled. Diverging from beer, brats and schnitzel, Mana Restaurant takes its cues from nature.
A late-winter meal opened with a lacy Parmesan crisp cradling chopped fig, Castelvetrano olives and black garlic, chased by chimichurri made with mustard greens and black lemon. Burnt scallion vinaigrette blazed a trail across shaved, house-smoked king salmon. Lamb stew with butternut squash spaetzle, shimeji mushrooms, nettles and pea shoots held the promise of spring.
But the showstopper came about midway through the eight-course menu. A twig of fresh-cut pine skewering a roasted king oyster mushroom stretched across a slab of tree bark, alongside whole Brussels sprouts fermented with Urfa biber and a small cast-iron skillet of saffron-laced pistachio cheese paneer. It looked like something cooked over a campfire by gnomes.
The dish was paired with a pleasant local nebbiolo. The other beverage option was nonalcoholic, though no less intoxicating: a wine-dark potion of rosehip, cedar berry and cherry tonic in a glass rimmed with powdered pine tips and sea salt.
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Patterson, the chef, and his wife, Tande, are the impresarios of Mana’s food and drink. Their journey here began two years ago with the closure of Sutra, the restaurant they co-owned in Seattle; the sale of the 5-acre farm in Monroe where they lived for four years; and the move to Leavenworth, in search of a more sustainable life for them and their two daughters, 9-year-old Kaia and Indira, who is 4.
“Leaving the land itself was a little bit wrenching,” says Tande. “But we were in the car all the time. We needed a lot of nature and wildness, but we needed work and we needed to be able to walk. We found our perfect reality in Leavenworth.”
The town, about a 2½-hour drive from Seattle, expects to welcome some 3 million visitors this year, but fewer than 2,500 people live in Leavenworth year-round. A block behind the restaurant, beautifully maintained trails run along the Wenatchee River. There are swimming holes nearby and opportunities for hiking, biking, skiing and foraging. Patterson once saw a bear eating pears right off the trees.
The couple expected to live above the restaurant. But after stripping the former Das Wedding Haus, built in 1904, to the studs; tearing down walls; raising the ceiling; and putting in new wiring, new windows and a commercial kitchen, they didn’t have another $50,000 to pay for the sprinkler system the building code required for the living quarters. Instead they are renting a “very small, very humble house” close by.
Their restaurant is a soothing place filled with flickering candles, flowers and many plants. Tande grows about 80 varieties, several destined for the nonalcoholic drinks she creates to match each dish; they complement the growing list of organic, biodynamic wines.
The gong that signals the start of dinner is the same one that sounded at Sutra, where Patterson stuck to a vegan script. Mana’s menu, though plant-driven, is not vegan, and neither are they. “As soon as we took over the farm,” he says, “we started eating like farmers.”
Patterson cooks in a fedora behind a waist-high counter using ingredients “grown close and with integrity.” At every seating, he initiates what they call “Show and Smell,” giving each table a plate of ingredients from the meal — Tasmanian black pepper, Urfa biber, black garlic, preserved lemon dust and rose harissa on my visit — and challenging guests to identify them. It’s a clever gambit to engage and educate.
Mana currently serves dinner Friday and Saturday only. The price is $85 per person. Beverage pairings are $42 (alcoholic) or $21 (nonalcoholic), but drinks by the bottle or by the glass also are available. Starting June 15, a daytime menu of soups, salads and snacks, along with beer, wine, kombucha and Tande’s signature elixirs, will be offered outdoors under giant shade trees on the property’s breezy half-acre.
“I think we’ll find other creative ways to use the space,” says Tande. For now, they are happy to have regained some sort of rhythm. “Now that the restaurant is open, it feels like things aren’t quite so scattered, that balance is coming into play,” she says.