When Nicole Wilson took her business partner and husband, chef Jason Wilson, to see the gingerbread house on Madison at John, he was underwhelmed at best. Jason had envisioned developing a large restaurant downtown, not converting diners to visit an isolated restaurant at a marginal locale.
One year later, the conversion of Jason-and said diners-is complete. Working with designer Shelley Buurman, the Wilsons created a crsip, modern interior, complete with 1960 Verner Panton chairs and a floating bar that fronts the kitchen. "We designed a blank canvas," Nicole states, explaining the bare walls. "The food and people are expected to add the color." With a contemporary menu boasting entrees like Sauteed Monkfish and Lobster-Potato Hash, people are coming in droves, figurative paint brushes in hand. - Crais, Bower
Crush is a modern oasis of cool, Ebony floors contrast dramatically with the all-white walls, tables, and curved chairs by Danish artist Verner Panton (2319 East Madison Street; 206-302-7874).
Clockwork Orange meets the Central District in the sleek farm-housed restaurant, Crush -Photograph by Tom Barwick If you haven't traversed Capitol Hill in recent months you may have trouble believing that a sleek restaurant of some pretension has opened at the gritty intersection of 23rd Street and Madison. The ferocious gentrification that's driven whole blockfuls of dealers and pimps out of this neighborhood has ushered in a brand-new breed: smooth epicureans, young and beautiful, armed with discriminating taste and platinum credit.
Its location is just the first incongruous thing about Crush, the enterprise of chef Jason Wilson and his front-of-the-house wife, Nicole, open since February. The couple renovated a 100-year old farmhouse (Nicole, a real estate agent, found it) to expose it's charming old world bones, the filled it with composite marble tables and curvilinear plastic chairs in ultra-moderne white on white. Those stylized curves continue across the glass sconces, the dining bar, the bread plates. No art interrupts the creamy cosmopolitan wallscapes of celery and buff.
The effect, besides that of having been submerged in a tub of vichyssoise, registers as oddly disjointed, as if Captain Marvel and one of the "Sex in the City" girls had settled down in the quaint old-fashioned home-in the 'hood. But the very disconnect is transporting. "I don't feel like I'm in Seattle," whispered one of the guests upon arriving. - By Kathryn Robinson