Rick Eng’s family inspired his culinary vision. While the owner of BeachHouse Bar + Grill, (1927 43rd Ave. E.) frequents restaurants around town and keeps up with food trends online, his niche is defined by what he serves to his family and what they like.
“The kids menu was chosen by my kids,” Eng said. “We talk about food all the time. We eat out a lot, so we discuss what we like, where the food comes from, and bounce ideas off each other.
“My grandfather had a restaurant,” Eng recounted. “While everyone was out front, I always wanted to be in the back, pulling stuff out of the fridge and cooking it up. Some people want to build high-rises or work with technology; food is what I know, grew up knowing. It’s what I love.”
Eng was born and raised in Bellevue, where he continues to reside with his wife, Maria, and three young daughters. He attended culinary school at Lake Washington Institute of Technology and later got his first job as a line chef with a food corporation. Quickly rising through the ranks, he was promoted to sous chef and then asked to run one of the company’s restaurants, and then another, leading each for six consecutive years. He met his wife at the second restaurant.
In 2009, he and Maria fell in love with their Kirkland restaurant location. Despite the risks — the space had been vacant for a year, and the economy was down —they decided to proceed and open their own restaurant, the Kirkland Waterfront. Five years later, with success in Kirkland, they were ready to open a second restaurant, the Madison Park BeachHouse.
“I fell in love with the kitchen,” Eng said of their new restaurant. “It’s open so I can see customers. There’s something special about people’s smile as they eat your food. And the wood-burning oven…the aromas and flavors that come from the wood.”
While he views the Kirkland WaterFront as their “first baby,” he intends to spend most of his time cooking and testing recipes out of the Madison Park location, which opened in October in the Madison Park Conservatory’s former space.
Eng describes his food as good Northwest casual or comfort, with a little Asian twist. The short rib stack, with ginger soy and sesame, most reflects his way of cooking.
“And a sunny-side egg on top,” he explained with a smile. “At home, I put a sunny-side egg on everything.”
Other signature dishes include the cedar plank salmon, which is cooked in the wood oven, and the flatbreads, with simple, seasonal toppings.
Everything is made in-house, including the salad dressings, marinades and sauces. And the main ingredients, such as poultry and meat, are fresh, natural and locally sourced. Likewise, the fish and seafood are wild-caught and dry-packed so there are no additives. Even the applewood is sourced from Yakima. It takes a staff of 25 to execute Eng’s vision.
Eng’s goal at the Madison Park BeachHouse is to work out the kinks of a new restaurant and find its rhythm. He intends to change items on the menu every three months to reflect the seasons, with the new menu likely due out in December. He also plans to introduce a weekend brunch menu sometime in December in response to customer demand.
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