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Fork Dork: Pearl Bar & Dining Turns Three, New Markets to Open, and More Food News

Pearl celebrates three years, two Bellevue grocery stores are set to open, Wild Ginger turns up the heat and Purple launches happy hour.

 in Bellevue’s  opened three years ago this month, sandwiched between the collapse of the mortgage market and the winter snowstorms around the Puget Sound. In other words, it was the worst possible time to open a restaurant in decades.

Proprietors Bradley Dickinson and Mikel Rogers have persevered and will be celebrating their third anniversary on Thursday, Nov. 17, from 6 to 9 p.m. with a special prix fixe three-course dinner for $55 (non-inclusive).

After 9 p.m. the entire restaurant will turn to reception format to extend the celebration with music spun by DJs  and full bar service in the dining room. Proceeds from raffling a trip to Las Vegas will benefit Rise n’ Shine, a local nonprofit serving children affected by AIDS.

“We’ve grown our sales every year,” said Dickinson, looking back on the first three years of the restaurant and bar. “That feels pretty good. It’s not like we are sitting around and counting the money, but we feel we are headed in the right direction.”

Pearl Bar & Dining overcame the poor economy, the snowstorm, the location’s association with its previous tenant (Trader Vic’s) and being located under the shadow of the Westin in Bellevue.

“We are in the worst location in the best block,” Dickinson said. “If people want to find us they will find us. Mikel and I are here every day. We get to know our guests. We’ve involved ourselves with the community.”

Dickinson and Rogers met working for Bellevue-based Schwartz Brothers. Dickinson worked for Schwartz Brothers for more than 20 years, including 12 years as corporate executive chef. During his stint he opened . Rogers worked for Schwartz Brothers for more than 10 years, rising to retail manager responsible for the front of house management of the Schwartz Brothers empire.

Together they have built Pearl Bar & Dining. Dickinson is in charge of the kitchen, or back of the house. Rogers is in charge of the front of the house.

“It’s fun and sleek. It has a certain sexiness that people like both in the bar and the dining room,” Dickinson said in describing the ambiance.

As for the food, Dickinson coaxes big, yet clean, flavors from the Northwest bounty.

“We don’t want to draw a picture on our plates. We want to make sure the food is tasty, with big flavors and that everything is distinguishable.”

Moving forward, Dickinson and Rogers want to open more restaurants, much like Schwartz Brothers did during their tenure with the restaurant ownership group.

“We are waiting for the right deal to come along,” Dickinson said. “I didn’t do it to open just one restaurant.”

For reservations to the anniversary dinner call 425-455-0181.

Your Local Market and Mercato Stellina look to open Nov. 11.

An enterprising and loyal Patch reader asked me about the pending opening of recently. Well, loyal Patch reader, here’s your partial answer: Mercato Stellina could open as soon as Friday, Nov. 11.

Mercato Stellina will be finishing construction by Friday, Nov. 4, said owner Trevor Greenwood. He hopes to be open for business the following Friday, pending inspection.

“We are excited to get the doors open,” Greenwood said.

Kim Clements of J.A.S Design Build designed Mercato Stellina, which includes seating for 18 guests during the day or up to 12 for private parties during the evening. Wylie Owens, late of , will be the general manager.

, a supermarket selling a combination of natural products and supermarket staples, on the 400 block of Bellevue Way N.E., will open Friday, Nov. 11, at 11:11 a.m. That’s 11/11/11 at 11:11 a.m.

Your Local Market will open its doors at 6 a.m. before kicking off the opening day celebration at 11:11 a.m., featuring local elected officials and the Clyde Hill Elementary School choir.

If you have news or questions about restaurants, grocers or other food-related businesses please send me your questions and I will do my best to answer them in this weekly column.

Heating Up Your Home with Wild Ginger

 started selling its popular chili sambal and curry powder retail at its Bellevue and Seattle restaurants as well as The Triple Door in Seattle this month. Sold as a set in 4-ounce jars each, they retail for $10 for both jars.

Sambal is a condiment blended from fresh chilies, vinegar, lemongrass, ginger, garlic and lime peel. Sambal originated in Indonesia and is also common in the cuisine of Malaysia, Singapore, southern Philippines and Sri Lanka. There are more than 300 varieties of sambal in Indonesia. Wild Ginger Executive Chef Jackie Lo recommends cooking with the chili sambal on wok-fried noodles to add the appropriate heat.

According to Wild Ginger owner Rick Yoder, “the sambal is really useful because it’s delicious plain as a sauce or dip, especially with fried food, or as a topping in a wide variety of soups, dressing and sauces. It also works in both eastern and western styles of cooking: I love it on eggs.”

The Wild Ginger curry powder is a mix of spices that are roasted and then blended in the kitchens of Wild Ginger to combine the pungent flavors of coriander and cumin with the brighter aromatic flavors of anise, fennel and ground ginger. It can be used as a seasoning on salads, vegetables, meats and seafood, as a marinade for meats or poultry, or as a spicy paste to create an Asian-style curry.

When cooking with the curry spice, Lo recommends that home cooks “rub it with meat—either chicken, lamb or pork—and wok fry until it’s fragrant. Then add in coconut milk or other liquid to make a killer curry.”

Purple Café & Wine Bar Brings Happy Hour to Kirkland and Woodinville locations

Purple Café & Wine Bar in  and  started happy hour menus this month. Specials include beers for $4, daily special red, white and sparkling wines for $6.50 a glass or $25 a bottle. Food specials include calamari for $5, chicken liver paté for $5, crab cake sliders for $6 and bruschetta for $6.

Ali Babba November 03, 2011 at 10:59 PM
OK, Captain Correcto checking in, Pearl is actually located under the Westin, rather than the Hyatt. Still, I enjoyed the article.
Kat Stremlau November 03, 2011 at 11:15 PM
You should also post the hours for the Purple Happy Hour...it goes from 2pm-5pm, Monday - Friday. Here's a link to the menu *also has food offerings*: http://www.thepurplecafe.com/pdf/PurpleWoodinville_Menu_HappyHour.pdf
Chris Nishiwaki November 04, 2011 at 09:18 AM
Thank you.
Chris Nishiwaki November 04, 2011 at 09:18 AM
Thank you.

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