This month, we look at a few examples of old wine in new bottles (as it were): a couple of
restaurants that have rebranded themselves without changing location or ownership, and a couple of newcomers.
Campagne becomes Marché
The farm-to-table movement hasn’t always existed; it’s been a long, not-always-easy campaign. We idealize the bucolic countryside, that distant vista of fields and farms, but it takes a leap of faith to “eat your view.”
The concept of Campagne, which opened 25 years ago in the Pike Place Market, was to reconcile the two notions, to bring the farms closer to the city.
Peter Lewis, the restaurant’s creator, sold it in 2005 to Bay Area real estate developer Simon Snellgrove and became a writer of murder mysteries (“Dead in the Dregs” was his first). The kitchen was in the capable hands of Culinary Institute of Americatrained Daisley Gordon; Cyril Fréchier, Seattle’s best French sommelier, had been on staff for four years.
The café downstairs was full of Marketvisiting tourists. But, in the sheltered courtyard upstairs, the sails of the fine-dining flagship were luffing. A big, big breath of fresh air was called for.
Snellgrove closed Campagne in January for a remodel and repositioning. Like all do-overs, it took a lot longer than expected, but the results are stunning. Except for the dining-room chairs, it’s a completely new restaurant.
Now named Marché, the French word for “market,” it promises a much simpler, less expensive menu along with a short list of approachable wines.
A Francophile cycling enthusiast named Cameron Williams has been recruited as general manager, and the Australian-born Snellgrove, satisfied with the transition, has formally passed the baton of “owner” to his Jamaica-born chef — the transition from field to market is complete.
From Waterfront to Aqua
Not far away, at Pier 70, the upscale Waterfront Seafood Grill, owned by Mackay Restaurant Group, has given way to a new concept called Aqua by El Gaucho.
A stunning, new entry, a new coat of paint, some new upholstery, a few new toys in the kitchen and some tweaks to the menu, but it’s still the same staff headed by executive chef Peter Levine, the same splendid, copper light fixtures and the same jaw-dropping location.
And, frankly, it’s a better name, since it capitalizes on the company’s strength: El Gaucho’s familiar steakhouse brand.
Will there be other Aquas? Why not?
FOOD MATTERS, Page 9