Whenever anyone asked me to suggest a romantic restaurant in Seattle, Chez Shea would be at the top of my list. And why not? Ideally located above Pike Place Market on the top floor of the Corner Market Building, Chez Shea boasted beautiful views of Elliott Bay. The bar was a interesting place for an first drink, but I always recommended a table by the window, timing arrival so that dinner extended through the sunset, as the changing light in the room was part of the joy of dining there.
I sent people to far more meals at Chez Shea than I ate myself there. Still, I have fond memories of the food--French classics with occasional twists. I personally liked the pork belly (pictured) and Kurobuta pork loin dishes, though also popular were the pan-roasted Muscovy duck and the seared squab breast. There was also a tasting menu for those seeking a fuller experience. Everyone who went reported back about the intimate ambiance, classy service, and quality food. One friend described the restaurant as "splendor without being overly spendy."
Sadly, Chez Shea closed last April after more than 25 years of service. The good news is that Storyville Coffee, a Bainbridge Island roaster, is opening a coffeebar in the location soon. What should you expect? In addition to beverages, snacks, and live music, Storyville's website says "Well...golden fire rustic cozy warm chocolate sunset natural hugging peaceful music artistic fresh coffee smells and just baked chocolate cake inviting conversation and reconnection while suspending the normal rat race or alone and lost in your dreams or shopping online for vintage guitars or designing the baby's room in your head wearing your favorite jeans and feeling very safe and loved."
Even better, Chez Shea's former chef, Mutsuko Soma, is opening Miyabi on 45th any day now. Soma is a soba master who's turning her pop-up success into a second Miyabi location. (The original is at Southcenter.) Featuring "Japanese Northwest" cuisine, the new Miyabi will join Musashi's, Kozue, Issian, and the fairly new Yoroshiku in turning 45th in Wallingford into a bit of a new Nihonmachi ("Japan Town").