Peyrassol: Out-of-the-way Renton cafe charms
Peyrassol Café at Southport is a charming addition to the Renton restaurant scene, offering a nice selection of wines, satisfying sandwiches and hearty soups at lunch; a tightly focused dinner menu; and soft cinnamon brioche rolls on Saturdays. Open for lunch and dinner. Closed Sundays.
Special to The Seattle Times
|Spaghetti alla chitarra with asparagus||$11|
|Poulet a l'Ail||$12|
Peyrassol Café at SouthportFrench/Italian
1083 Lake Washington Blvd. N., Renton
Hours: Lunch 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday; dinner 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Prices: $$ (Lunch/brunch $4.25-$8; dinner entrees $7-$14.)
Drinks: Wine, beer, cocktails, espresso drinks.
Parking: Free on street and in garage.
Who should go: Southenders can eat and drink well without spending a bundle at this charming, friendly cafe.
Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard.
Access: No obstacles.
Peyrassol is so off-the-beaten-path, even folks from Renton may have a hard time finding it, unless they already dwell in The Bristol at Southport, a lakeside apartment complex wedged between Gene Coulon Park and the Boeing plant. If you wind your way around the building's perimeter nearly to the water, eventually you'll spy a red, white and green sign that says simply, "Café."
I went in search of Peyrassol, which quietly opened its doors in October, because the newlywed owners have an intriguing track record. Scott Cory is a longtime wine steward and buyer for QFC's Broadway and U-Village stores. His wife, Sachia Tinsley, worked alongside her sister, Sabrina Tinsley, making pasta at the original Osteria La Spiga. When her sister and brother-in-law Pietro Borghesi moved La Spiga to bigger Capitol Hill quarters, Sachia went on to become executive pastry chef at Wild Ginger and Triple Door.
My odyssey was not in vain. The couple's modest Euro-cafe is a charmer. At first glance it looks like a grab-and-go coffee-and-pastry place, one that would be worth seeking out just for Tinsley's soft cinnamon brioche rolls (Saturdays only) and a Caffe Umbria cappuccino.
But take a closer look. Notice the tightly focused dinner menu, mostly simple fare well-executed with fine ingredients: egg dishes, charcuterie and cheese boards, boeuf Bourguignon and roast chicken and always a couple of fresh pasta specials. Scrutinize the wines. Most of the bottles are $45 or less; by the glass there are Pinot Gris, Gruner Veltliner, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Carmenere Cabernet and more. Observe the liquor lined up behind the service bar: Bombay Sapphire and Hendrick's gin, Knob Creek and Basil Hayden's bourbon are proof that martinis and Manhattans can happen here, too.
Lunch revolves around satisfying sandwiches and hearty, usually vegetarian, soups du jour. Shaved pastrami and melted fontina fill a crusty, warm Macrina Bakery ciabatta roll dabbed with grainy mustard. Black-eyed peas thicken tomato broth elusively spiced with cumin and cayenne. Curried parsnip soup puréed to the texture of loosely whipped cream delivers opulent mouthfuls of sweet vegetables warmed with spices. There's a dainty cheese quiche, as well, with stellar pastry holding delicate custard dotted with gorgonzola. For about $8, you can add a cup of soup to your sandwich order, or include a romaine salad (rather Spartan but sharply dressed with Dijon vinaigrette) with your soup or quiche.
Peyrassol's take on the classic Parisian "ouefs plats" (available day into evening) gently bakes two sunny-side up eggs in a shallow dish lined with prosciutto and a bit of Beecher's Flagship cheese, but those flavors recede in the wake of white truffle oil too generously applied. It's an imbalance that I didn't encounter anywhere else on the menu.
Sauces are exquisitely fine-tuned. Pheasant ragu resembles a lighthearted Bolognese. The tomato-kissed sauce, flecked with sage and rosemary, rests as lightly as pashmina on toothsome pappardelle noodles. Asparagus hides among flat strands of spaghetti alla chitarra in a silky butter-and-parmesan-cheese sauce bright with lemon and boldly peppered.
Garlic purée whisked into the pan juices of roast chicken creates almost fluffy gravy that cushions an oh-so-moist breast nestled on farro grains. A wedge of soft polenta aids in capturing every drop of the intense wine-dark sauce that boosts boeuf Bourguignon to such elegant heights you want to address every tender morsel of chuck as Charles.
This is fine dining with few frills: Paper napkins and no tablecloths help keep prices low, as does a staff so small that Tinsley sometimes buses tables herself. The window-wrapped dining room looks as if it's been furnished with flea-market finds and treasures from Grandma's attic. The improvised tabletop décor includes strings of white lights filling cut-glass vases and candles in Mason jars. All of which only adds to the delight of discovering a hidden gem where you least expect it.
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Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.