The farewell lunch was with a former colleague who is heading off to Tanzania (can you see me turning green with envy?) for at least a year and maybe forever. We met at Il Corvo, which I’d been dying to go to ever since it moved from the Pike Place Market hill climb to just a couple of blocks away from my office. For some reason I had yet to make it; maybe because it takes a little effort to get there early if you don’t want to wait outside in a long line in the rain. Il Corvo, which means “the crow,” is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11am to 3pm. Three pasta dishes are offered daily based on the season and the chef’s whim, and when they run out you have to go somewhere else. It’s a tiny place and we were lucky to get a table at 11:30am, as just a few minutes later the line was out the door and up the street.
The Il Corvo kitchen is headed by Chef Mike Easton, who developed his passion for handmade pasta while studying in Italy. In addition to the desire to make delicious pasta, Chef Easton also wanted quality of life – something difficult to come by in the culinary world. He modeled Il Corvo on Salumi, a lunch-only charcuterie in Pioneer Square that also requires standing in line in the rain. “I always had it in mind that if you pick one thing and do it really well, you will build a clientele around it,” Easton said in a Puget Sound Business Journal article. “We do three pastas a day, that’s it, and I promise it all will be good.”
The pasta I had on this day was perfect to enhance the hints of spring in the air: an occasional peak of sun, cherry blossoms in bloom, and the smell of salt in the air from the Sound. It was a bowl of rotini with a lemony cream sauce, asparagus, and parmesan. Simple and light despite the cream sauce, with a lovely tart lemon zest that gave it some zing. All the pasta is handmade and cooked to perfection. Il Corvo won Restaurant of the Year in the 2013 Eater Awards, so go early because the line is not going to get shorter any time soon. However, there will soon be a second option as Chef Easton’s new pizzeria, Pizzeria Gabbiano, should be opening up in Pioneer Square before long.
The second lunch outing of the week was with a landscape architect friend who had recently transplanted from Portland, making the move with his new bride to start a new job. The pick for this lunch was Lecosho, which is the Chinook word for “pig,” and is owned by Jill Buchanan and Matt Janke. Janke was the owner of the much-loved Matt’s in the Market, which he sold in 2007 to his then-business partner. In 2010, Janke opened Lecosho with friend Mike Easton at the helm of the kitchen, before Easton left to open Il Corvo – reminding us again of what a small town Seattle is.
Lecosho is located at Harbor Steps, in one of those cursed restaurant spaces that seems to change over on a regular basis. I’d bet good money that the curse is broken and Lecosho will remain for as long as they want to. The restaurant’s tag line is “food we like,” and the concept is built around simple, well-prepared European-inspired dishes using local and seasonal ingredients.
My choice for the day was their FNBLT: locally sourced bacon, arugula, roasted tomatoes, spicy aioli, and a soft-boiled egg on toasted potato bread that takes your everyday BLT to a new level with its texture and freshness. That is what Lecosho does so well: taking food we love, upgrading the ingredients, using what’s local or seasonal, and then adding a little twist. Another perfect example is the tuna melt I had on a previous visit. The Stranger, in their Great Tuna Melt Investigation, summed it up perfectly: “It may cost twice as much as other tuna melts, but it’s approximately seventeen times better.”