The combined openings of Artisanal Brasserie and Artisanal Table back in September of 2009 were a really big deal for the Seattle area. After all, they represented a kind of Left Coast, Bellevue beachhead for big time NYC chef Terrance Brennan (a guy whose resume reads like chef fantasy), and a trusting investment in the appetites and high-end tastes of the locals. What's more, since Brennan was opening two places (rather than just one, which, in retrospect, might have made a little more sense) with a total area in excess of 10,000 square feet, it seemed like he was really putting down stakes in the area in order to chase a promise of better things and better days to come.
At the time, everyone was powerfully excited about this heavyweight operator coming to town. I mean, this was a guy who'd worked at Le Cirque, done time at Taillevent, Le Tour d'Argent, La Gavroche and under chef Roger Vergé at Le Moulin de Mougins in the south of France. He'd opened Picholine in New York in 1993 and earned three stars from the New York Times and, perhaps more importantly, had been incredibly dedicated to the task of bringing super stinky, high-end cheeses to the people of the Big Apple even before many people cared much about the difference between a Garrotxa (Spanish goat cheese) and a Serra da Estrela (Portuguese sheep's cheese).But then came the less-than-stellar reviews of his Bellevue operations (both by Jonathan Kauffman, back in 2009, and the Surly Gourmand, just two weeks ago). And then came the nights where his West Coast restaurants could barely fill the floor, even while his Manhattan ops (which still included Picholine and had grown to encompass Artisanal Fromagerie and Bar Artisanal) were going strong.
And the result? An abrupt and sudden closure of both Artisanal Brasserie and Artisanal Table after service on Sunday night. A quick call to the 212 area code let me know that his flagship restaurants are all still up and running, but--after less than a year in business here--Brennan has totally abandoned his foray into the Pacific Northwest. The websites for the two Bellevue locations have already been pulled down (now existing only as placeholders with a short message: "Artisanal Brasserie and The Artisanal Table are closed.
We thank you for your support and patronage. It has been a pleasure serving you."), and the phone number kicks you straight over to a message announcing that the restaurants "are currently closed."
So if you're hungry for gourmet pizzas, haute French or fancy cheeses in the Bravern area tonight? Guess you're gonna have to look somewhere else...