A restauranteur and father of three, Lane Scelzi knew Issaquah was missing something — a kid-free place to escape on date.
His decision to open SIP Restaurant in the Highlands was as much about providing a place near home to dine with his wife, as it was about good business.
“I really wanted a restaurant myself,” he said.
SIP is one of several businesses participating in Issaquah’s Restaurant Month. He’s offering a three-course meal for $30 this March.
While Scelzi promises a solid Americana menu with an Asian flair, for SIP it’s all about ambiance.
Warm taupes and browns make up much of the color scheme. Hints of purple come out of ceiling-high racks of red wine on the back walls.
Leather chairs and tall green curtains give guests the feeling that they’re walking into their great room at home, he said.
Scelzi signed a contract with Port Blakely before the building was constructed in 2006, giving him plenty of say in the design.
On warm nights, glass doors open out onto a stone patio, complete with fireplace and trellis.
The massive, curved bar is in the middle of the restaurant, forcing everyone’s attention inward.
“You’re staring at people instead of a wall,” Scelzi said, adding that he meant it to be a social place.
The menu is seasonal, changing four times a year, and has a strong emphasis on organic.
A new partnership with a farm in Carnation, also means that much of the produce will soon be local, said Chef Christopher Brown.
The small plates are large enough to accompany a glass of wine, or have two for a meal.
Brown’s favorite are the duck & gnocchi, he doesn’t skimp on the buttery duck confit, and pork & scallops.
Halibut season just began, and the spring menu is almost ready to be released, he said.
His top dinner picks are the Jumbo Tiger, prosciutto-wrapped prawns, and the Ancho Filet tenderloin with a pepper rub.
All the desserts are also made in the restaurant, Scelzi said.
At first he only offered wine at SIP, but recently applied for a liquor license, which has proven profitable. Often customers want to start with cocktails before ordering a glass of wine, he said.
Scelzi first got into the restaurant business in 1996, when he opened The Melting Pot in Queen Anne.
He then opened three more Melting Pots, before opening SIP in Gig Harbor, which eventually closed. Issaquah’s SIP is the second of three, the most recent one on Fifth Avenue in Seattle.