Seattle’s Sunday suppers: top restaurants host family-style meals

Remember the good old days, when families used to sit down for dinner together? No? Well, no worries, because a handful of Seattle’s most beloved restaurants are resurrecting the tradition of Sunday supper with a series of monthly or weekly dinners. In a city known for its commitment to green living and locavorism, it just makes sense

Each meal is served at a communal table, and dishes are family-style, passed from one diner to the next. Communal dining is exploding in popularity nationally, for a variety of reasons. The poor economy makes family-style meals a smart choice–for chefs and restaurateurs, as well as diners–and comfort food, even if it’s gussied up, is popular in trying times. These dinners also foster a sense of community, and provide a respite from the shackles of ringing cell phones and pinging in-boxes. Bonus: they’re a great way to make new friends (it’s amazing what wine can do).

The public’s growing interest and concern over our food supply is also a likely factor for the popularity of family dinners, since they usually have a strong emphasis on regional product. Diners get a chance to learn about family farms and seasonal eating, sometimes with the growers in attendance. Some chefs choose a theme for each meal, and plan their menus ahead, while others prefer to wing it, looking to the farmers market for inspiration. Either way, a Sunday supper is a way to engage with the local scene…even if you’re just visiting. Don’t forget to make a reservation.

Palace Kitchen
Sunday dinners debut November 7th at pioneering PacNW chef Tom Douglas’ iconic, downtown restaurant. Chef de cuisine Brian Walcyzk will prepare three courses for $30, including Prosser Farms acorn squash salad with maple-pancetta vinaigrette, Beacon Hill arugula, and ricotta salata, and applewood spit-roasted turkey breast. Dinners will run weekly throughout the month, and into December.

The new, monthly “Sunday Feast” theme dinners featuring chef Brandon Kirksey’s rustic Italian fare start November 7th, with “Lamb.” Future dinners served at the 30-foot-long farm table will feature “Suckling Pig,” and Whole Roasted Goat” at this elegantly casual Belltown favorite. $45-$60.

Volunteer Park Cafe
A cozy spot located in a leafy residential part of Capitol Hill, VPC’s monthly “Sunday Supper” menus are at the whim of chef/co-owner Ericka Burke. Think Moroccan chicken legs with couscous, corona bean panzanella, or wild boar Bolognese. Even if you can’t make dinner, hit up breakfast for co-owner/pastry chef Heather Earnhardt’s sweet or savory baked goods (crack has nothing on her Brown Butter Bars). The brand-new, adorable back patio, with its garden beds and chicken coop, put a little bit of urban farm into this local institution. $30.

The Corson Building
2007 Food & Wine Best New Chef Matt Dillon hosts two Sunday Suppers a month ($60, including wine) at this restored, former stonemason’s home in the artsy-industrial Georgetown ‘hood. Despite the locale against the train tracks and under the Boeing Field flight path, there’s a chicken coop, beehives, and abundant gardens where guests can stroll, wine in hand. Expect to see Corson’s own, and other local, impeccably fresh ingredients prepared simply (hearth-roasting is big), allowing flavors to shine.

Spring Hill
Okay, it’s not technically a communal meal, or a Sunday, but the a la carte, generously-portioned, “Monday Night Suppers” at this sleek West Seattle mom-and-pop spot are upscale comfort food at its best, for $11 to $20 a pop. New: fried chicken dinners for four (by reservation only, $98), with sides that include herb spaetzle, caramelized Brussels sprouts, and jalapeno corn bread with honey. 2009 Food & Wine Best New Chef and co-owner Mark Fuller does down-home right.