FOOD MATTERS | Eating in the living room

FOOD MATTERS | Eating in the living room

FOOD MATTERS | Eating in the living room


In many parts of the world, people go out (to bars, to restaurants, to cafés, to galleries, to concerts) because it may be more comfortable than staying home. Most residences have living rooms, of course, but there are a number of delightful “public living rooms” if you do want to leave the house. BeachHouse Madison Park (1927 43rd Ave. E.) is one such living room.

Rick Eng, a Bellevue native who attended Lake Washington Institute of Technology and worked for a number of years in corporate restaurants, went off on his own a decade ago. Five years ago, he and his wife, Maria, opened BeachHouse on the waterfront in Kirkland and expanded to Madison Park in late 2014. He was particularly attracted by the wood-burning oven (“What great aromas!”) and the open kitchen (“You can see people smile!”).

I certainly smiled when I tasted the fried chicken. Such a cliché, sure, but oh-so-good, and sauced with a savory sausage-mushroom gravy. Mashed potatoes and coleslaw rounded out the plate, which could have been a shared main course for two.

Do you hanker for seafood? How about that traditional Mediterranean staple, paella? Clams, salmon, chicken, shrimp, andouille sausage, asparagus and peppers — all served in a soup dish on a bed of surprisingly flavorful saffron rice.

With The Independent (one of Seattle’s great pizza places) right across the street at 4235 E. Madison St., the flatbreads at BeachHouse might seem superfluous, but Independent owner Tom Siegel closes a couple of nights a week and doesn’t serve cocktails. So BeachHouse seizes the opportunity and finds a great use for that wood-burning oven.

So let’s get back to the cozy “living room” concept, most of which takes place in the charming upstairs bar. Take Steak Night Tuesdays, for example, when sirloin steak and fries are $6. By the way, my living room doesn’t have a 54-inch flat-screen, so this is a good spot to come if you want to see the big game.


More living room spaces

Madison Park doesn’t lack for inviting spaces where the public can gather. McGilvra’s, a Madison Park fixture at 4234 E. Madison St., has its habitués, as does Bing’s (4200 E. Madison St.). Scratch the surface of longtime residents and you’ll also find advocates for the two taverns: Red Onion (4210 E. Madison St.) and The Attic (4226 E. Madison St.).

And if you head over to Madrona, there’s the Madrona Eatery & Alehouse (1138 34th Ave.), which has the added advantage of a fireplace and warm welcome for kids.

Down on the Leschi shore, there’s the BluWater Bistro (102 Lakeside Ave.).

It all depends on your appetite, and one of the staples of the “living room” is a good burger. But when you feel ambitious enough to go beyond the burger to cook dinner at home, you’ll have to put pants on and go shopping.

Yet even grocery stores count as living rooms, right? After all, how many times have we encountered friends and neighbors at the Red Apple butcher counter (1801 41st Ave. E.), where third-generation owner Troy Croshaw and longtime butcher Skip Christianson have been wrapping our holiday roasts for years now? For that matter, down at the Leschi Market (103 Lakeside Ave.), owner Steve Shulman was feeding our families lamb sausages long before artisanal charcuterie was even trendy.


A little farther out

If you’d like to venture “up the hill,” you won’t need to go too far; plenty of new places have opened east of Broadway. Try the new Lark (952 E. Seneca St.), for example. Not only is John Sundstrand’s new place gorgeous, it’s also home to Bitter/Raw, a European-style bar upstairs, with cured meats, oysters and shellfish platters.

On the west side of Broadway, there’s Steve Eng’s newly remodeled Zhu Dang (1715 E. Olive Way), site of the former Social Club, now a sort of updated, modern Chinese restaurant with a fine wine list curated by Chris Tanghe. If the chef looks familiar, he should be: Kenny Lee ran the kitchen at the old Shallots Asian Bistro in Belltown.

Maybe all you want is breakfast? There’s Skillet Diner (1400 E. Union St.), with a splendid dish called Serious Toast and hot, delicious doughnuts from chef Nick Novello.

Now, it’s possible that you just want to stay home, period, and enjoy a couple of cocktails. There’s an app for that: Drizly! Install it, and you can order booze delivered to your door within minutes.


RONALD HOLDEN blogs at His new book is “Home Grown Seattle: 101 True Tales of Local Food & Drink. To comment on this column, write to