EDMONDS — The first thing you should know is that the famous tomato bisque isn’t going anywhere.
After 37 years serving comforting classics on Edmonds’ Main Street, the quirky bistro Chanterelle recently closed up shop as its owners move on to other projects. It’s the end of an era, to be sure. But another well-tenured local institution is stepping up to take its place, bringing its own tried-and-true recipes — plus some Chanterelle staples — to Snohomish County.
Edmonds in recent years has expanded its culinary offerings by leaps and bounds, gradually becoming the greater Seattle area’s best-kept secret for a quick epicurean getaway in your own backyard. But locals in the know have long gravitated to Chanterelle for consistent, comforting home-cooked fare, said owner Tiffany Tran.
Up until Sept. 12, the date of the bistro’s final dinner service, Chanterelle was a destination for diners who appreciate the classics. You could stop by in the morning for a square of sour cream coffee cake and a hearty scramble, cozy up with the soup of the day and a grilled cheese sandwich on an overcast afternoon, and gather the family for a casual dinner selected from among the soul-nourishing, meat-and-potatoes dinner entrées.
Tran and her father, Hoa, purchased the restaurant from longtime owners Brooke and Randy Baker in 2018, keenly aware they were buying into a key piece of downtown Edmonds history. Chanterelle has been open since 1986 in a 100-plus-year-old building that began its life as a grocery store and deli, then became a furniture store before settling into its long career as a bistro, Tran said.
A past owner of the building’s former furniture business used to stop by the restaurant regularly to collect empty bottles from the bar, which he’d decorate and hand out as gifts to friends. You’d have seen many of them scattered among Chanterelle’s homey decor, and Tran maintains a small personal collection.
“I think it just shows how much people were attached to this particular part of the neighborhood, how long it’s been a fixture here,” Tran said.
And when Tran posted to Chanterelle’s Facebook page announcing its upcoming closure, the outpouring of grief from fans — some of whom had been celebrating birthdays and gathering at the bistro since birth — once again highlighted its iconic status.
Many of them shared memories of dishes they’d been turning to in times of need for the past four decades: the blueberry pancakes that kept one person going through the pandemic, the meatloaf dinner that tasted just like Grandma’s, and of course the famous tomato bisque slurped over quick workday lunches or purchased by the quart to stock in the fridge at home. One commenter lamented the loss of her go-to Cosmopolitan, mixed just the way she likes it by a Chanterelle bartender who she came to consider a friend over years of regular visits.
It was “unbelievably hard” to pull the plug on the iconic business, Tran said. She and her father, who together own three other eateries in Issaquah and Seattle, made the choice to focus on other dreams and put Chanterelle up for sale earlier this year.
But Tran knew whoever they sold the business to would have massive shoes to fill, and she didn’t take the selection process lightly in seeking a successor. She found a natural fit in Ristorante Machiavelli, a Seattle fixture that shared Chanterelle’s longevity, consistency and dedication to tradition.
Machiavelli has been a mainstay on Capitol Hill for nearly as long as Chanterelle served Edmonds — the pleasantly cramped, no-reservations Italian joint opened in 1988 with the exact same menu devotees order from today, said owner Suzette Jarding.
Regulars worship at the altar of the restaurant’s veal saltimbocca and pasta carbonara, and rightfully so after nearly four decades of perfecting recipes. Jarding has watched the neighborhood grow and change, couples meeting, marrying, raising children, over the 25 years she’s worked at Machiavelli, starting as a Monday night hostess.
But the way Jarding sees it, people don’t just come to Machiavelli for predictably good food. They come for a sense of home, a comforting ambience that remains warm and friendly regardless of whatever turmoil you come through the door with.
“I count so many of our customers in Seattle as friends,” Jarding said. “I mean, to be seeing these people weekly, year after year, you really kind of become a part of their family as much as they are a part of the Machiavelli family.”
It only made sense to translate that homeyness to the Edmonds community just as it lost its own local institution.
“I really empathize with people, because I myself love Chanterelle, and I came there a lot with my kids,” said Jarding, who’s lived in Edmonds since 2003. “Over the years, it’s kind of been a favorite spot for us to go to. And I’m trying to honor that as much as I possibly can.”
Jarding said she’s been eyeballing Edmonds for a second Machiavelli location for some time since buying the restaurant from its original owners in 2013. Lots of Capitol Hill regulars moved north as they retired or sought room to raise their families, and as the Edmonds food scene began to grow, it seemed a great place to plant the seeds of something new and beautiful.
After Chanterelle closed, the new owners got right to work and are already in the midst of renovating the space. Jarding said the remodel will open up the dining space, add some modern touches here and there, but the spot will remain the landmark it’s always been when it reopens in December (if all goes to plan).
And to the great relief of countless local fans, that includes retaining some of Chanterelle’s most-beloved recipes on the new Machiavelli menu. Tran said she couldn’t have stood to see the place’s time-honored kitchen traditions fade into obscurity — and she’s saving herself the trouble of fending off recipe requests for the rest of her natural life, anyway.
The tomato bisque will keep its place of honor on the new menu alongside all of Machiavelli’s own classics and a choice few others, plus the addition of a brunch menu inspired by that served at Chanterelle. Jarding expects fans of both restaurants will find something to love.
Tran said she’ll miss the sense of family that, like Machiavelli, grew around Chanterelle over the years, and feels grateful to have been part of a small chapter of the restaurant’s storied history. She will miss the holiday cookies wrapped up for favorite servers by regular patrons, the uncanny way staff knew just how to pick up one another’s spirits during a hectic shift.
But Tran takes comfort in knowing it’s not the end of Chanterelle’s story, not really.
“That’s one of the biggest things that I took from there, is that we created an experience that really did build a family,” Tran said. “And all these people are going to continue to check in with each other and be able to see each other even though we’ve sold over to somebody else. That community is still there together and everybody’s going to continue staying in touch and nobody’s actually going to say goodbye.”