I can hear it now: "But it's sooooooo far away."
Yeah. It is. Get over it.
Sip is a great little wine bar and restaurant in the Issaquah Highlands (1084 NE Park Dr., 425-369-1181). Right now, more than half of the clientele are regulars who live nearby -– the rest are Seattleites dragged in by their Eastside friends (me, included). The 138-seat restaurant is owned by Lane Scelzi, the guy who also owns the local branches of the Melting Pot fondue chain, and the kitchen is run by Chef Cody Reaves, formerly of Tacoma's El Gaucho and Pacific Grill.
Sip opened in July 2006 in a small shopping complex off exit 18 on I-90. And if there's no traffic, it's only a 30-minute drive from Seattle. Totally worth the trip. The place is like Purple, but with better food and bigger wine pours. Plus, it offers $2 off all small plates during happy hour. Good bets are the ahi poke with peppers, sweet onion, wasabi aioli, and plantain chips; the paella; and the sirloin sweet roll sliders, which were so tasty, my friend Manda ordered a box to go. There's another reason to go to Sip -- and it has nothing to do with food or booze: Inside the common wash area, there are two security screens that let you spy on people at the bar. How cool/creepy is that?
Right now, there are a ridiculous number of condos being built in the area and a U-Village-type shopping complex is also coming soon, which means this quaint little neighborhood drinking hole will soon be overflowin'. And before you can say "Victoria's Secret," word comes that a new Sip is opening up in Gig Harbor. Chef Reaves gave me the inside scoop:"Our goal is to open Sip in Gig Harbor by the end of October," he said. "It will be in the new Uptown development (4700 block of Point Fosdick Dr. N.W.) next to a movie theater and shopping center. The major differences would be the addition of lunch. We want the space to have the same feel with the dominant bar front and center and still with a wine-first focus. We will be hiring a separate chef who will put his own name on the food (can't tell you who that is but he can cook). There will be similarities on the menu, so that someone could visit both restaurants and recognize an item or two, but differences as well so that a trip to both would be justified."
So, there you go. Gig Harbor. All of the sudden the Issy Highlands don't seem so far away, eh?