Staple & Fancy with Friends


A few Sundays ago, Denise, Dana, Megan, Kristina and I headed out to Chef Ethan Stowell’s new restaurant: Staple & Fancy Mercantile.

Set in one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods, Ballard Avenue, one wouldn’t expect to find such a fancy restaurant when driving through that particular block. Walking along the sidewalk at night, the brick walls of this industrial area give way to faint amber lights, peeking through Staple & Fancy‘s glass-walled entrance.

We arrived early and gave in to the lure of the adjacent shop first. It was closed, but what we saw through the display window was enough to have us dreaming of cute old-style bicycles and a breath of Europe. We wanted to take them home if it weren’t for the price tag. Hah.

De La Louisianne: Rye, Benedictine, Pastis

Still in dreamland, we meandered back into the sea of tungsten lights, greeted by the host and…

Hello, bar!

We sidled into it, were offered the cocktail menu, and do what sensible gals do and order a different drink each to entertain us while we wait for our other partner in crime, Megan.

Mine was called De La Louisianne, which I picked for its Benedictine ingredient (a toast to my high school alma mater — odd reasoning, I know). It tasted faintly of J√§germeister. Yum.

I loved the cherry in it, which was smaller and darker than the usual bright red maraschinos. It tasted so much better than those, I couldn’t help but ask the bartender what kind it was.

“They’re from a brand called Toschi,” he said, and gave more for the whole gang to try. I inquired further, and the only things he could tell me was that they come in a big jar, and procured through their supplier. Of course.

We are wee alcohol minions, but I will get my hands on them at some point, you’ll see. That’s what the Internet is for. I’m just not sure if it was the amarena or vignola, but I’m betting on the former. Help.

A few minutes later, we were led to our table with the menus. The note on the rightmost column says:

“Thanks for joining us at Staple & Fancy Mercantile. Please feel free to order as much or as little food as you like. And, if you would like to avoid the trouble of ordering altogether, please feel free to hand your menu back to your server and let the kitchen prepare you a family style supper served in four courses for $45 per person. Participation by the entire table is required. We would also like to inform you that you really should do this.

It was the last evening of our girls retreat, and frankly, the less we have to think, the better. Chef’s tasting menu FTW (for the win)!

And boy did S&F not disappoint.

Let me just begin by saying we had a ton of food. Was it 10 courses? More. I can’t remember. We did pay over the cost stated above**, but really who wants to count? I wouldn’t be able to get all of that this side of the border. We were in dinner heaven.

[** I just want to clarify that in case you went there and wondered why you didn’t get as much food as we did!]

The lights were dim and the tables glowed in candlelight. It was relaxing. We were having fun, and when the food started coming to our table, we were in for a treat.

Deep fried clams

Liver paté...offalbulous!

The pretty vegetarian fare had us meat-eaters drooling

The pretty vegetarian fare had us meat-eaters drooling

Kari Brunson, formerly of, briefly left the kitchen and came by our table to bring an appetizer. At that point, we were bulging our eyes out with food. Kari, who some of you food bloggers know, retired from professional ballet to pursue her passion for cooking. Now that’s balls.

Deep fried peppers, which I was able to eat in spite of my low capsaicin.

Spotted prawns

What happens at S&FM, stays at S&FM. Or did not stay, I suppose. :D My lips are sealed.

Blue fish crostini

More vegetarian dishes

Green beans


Chef Ethan Stowell was there, and so was his lovely wife and business partner, Angela, both of whom we’ve met the previous evening at the IFBC dinner. It’s always nice when the chef/owners take a moment to say Hi.

Chef Ethan Stowell

Chef Ethan Stowell

I’ll tell you now that my short term memory fails me, and that I enjoyed myself too much. Between talking and laughing our bellies off, my brain turned to mush and I fully relied on photos to help me recall the evening of food. So instead of trying to refresh a blurred memory of all the names of the dishes that we ate, I’ll let you be a spectator, a voyeur at the next table, and enjoy the photos. They’re not well lit, but I did my best. And hopefully I did their food justice.

Panna cotta with peaches

People watching at Staple & Fancy Mercantile

There’s a story behind this photo of Denise and Dana, and forgive me, but I honestly forgot. Refresh my memory, ladies! ;-)

Denise and Dana

I can’t wait to hang out with my Seattle IFBC crew again. And go back to Staple & Fancy. Mmm…good food, good friends, good memories. Now that’s a wonderful dinner.

Related Posts with Thumbnails


  • September 21, 2010 8:14 am

    How can you not hug Denise? She is just so damn awesome. Or maybe she was promising me that she wouldn’t tell on me for stealing the paprika. Who knows. Much of that night is foggy. But I do remember the food! You captured it so well here Joy! I am trying to rally our supper club to do a dinner there in December.

  • September 21, 2010 9:05 am

    Heh! That was Dana illustrating the difference between East Coast & West Coast greetings. One’s a hug and one’s a kiss. :D

    Such amazing food! It was absolutely wonderful. The company we were with was even better. :)

Leave A Comment