Don’t worry: the Russian fairytale murals still adorn the walls at Restaurant Marron, the latest restaurant to take over the space at 806 E. Roy in the Loveless Building.
The Loveless building hasn’t always shown much love for the restaurants that have popped up there. There’s been a string of them over the last decade, including Coco La Ti Da, Fork, and the most recent one, Olivar. But owner Zarina Sakai isn’t too worried about the past; she feels like she and her husband have finally found their home.
“It’s like it was meant to be,” owner Zarina Sakai told me. “My first name is actually a misspelling of a Russian word ‘Tzarina.’ The first time we came in here, we looked in the corner and saw my name written on the wall. We knew we had finally found the place for our first restaurant!”
Sakai and her husband Eric opened Restaurant Marron just a few weeks ago, and the care and love they’ve put into the place is immediately apparent.
“You’re going to see a parade of vintage silverware,” she told me, placing an intricately-etched fork on my table. “We’ve been collecting the china and silverware for years. We used to go to antique shops every weekend to look for things. We’d buy them and put them in storage, knowing they’d be for our first restaurant. When we finally opened those boxes, it was like Christmas!”
Sakai is a tiny woman overflowing with giant enthusiasm. She’ll likely be the one to greet you at the door at Restaurant Marron; and while there is an attentive wait staff, she also bounces around the dining room checking on everyone, making sure every detail is perfect.
“That soda is made with pinot noir grapes,” I overheard her telling a table near me, the diners all nodding their heads vigorously. “Isn’t it just outstanding? I love it! I’m so glad you tried it.”
Sakai’s husband, Eric, mans the kitchen, cooking and plating most of the dishes himself. Just like in the dining room, there is help in the kitchen, but Eric is clearly the one making sure perfection hits every plate.
The husband and wife team met in culinary school a decade ago, at the Culinary Institute of America.
“We realized we shared a passion for life and food,” Sakai told me, laughing. “I realized I enjoyed the wine side more, so it was great that I had a husband who would cook for me! Our entire journey in life together has been about food. We worked in New York and San Francisco and then moved to Wyoming to try homesteading. We did that for a few years before coming to Seattle.”
The couple searched for a year for their first restaurant before settling on the Loveless building. Zarina is from the Philippines and Eric is from Hawaii, but the cuisine at Restaurant Marron is French and new American.
“We try to be seasonal and creative,” said Sakai, handing me a freshly made apricot soda. “This is made with fresh apricots and a just a little bit of white wine vinegar.”
Restaurant Marron is a fine dining restaurant, so it’s a place to go for a special occasion. You won’t find Happy Hour or tapas here; instead, you choose the number of courses you would like to try. An appetizer and an entrée is $39, while an appetizer, entrée, and dessert is $47. You can also do the carte blanche meal, where your table will get to sample eight courses chosen by the chef. Wine pairings are also available and if you do the carte blanche with the wine, it’s going to be $170 a person.
The plating at Restaurant Marron is intricate, but not overly fancy; it still looks like food you can eat, not just admire. I got a chance to sample a few things and each bite was delicious and interesting. The heirloom potato dish was creamy, sour, and delightfully decadent.
“We really hope people stop by and try us out,” said Sakai, beaming. “We’re just so excited to have finally opened our first restaurant. Things are going great. We just want to share this with everyone!”