Restaurant Spotlight: Brasserie Four

“Do I owe you a recipe?” Hannah MacDonald, the owner of Brasserie Four, asks, smiling widely.

Last winter, I had been so enamored with Brasserie Four’s duck cassoulet that I begged for the recipe when the menu changed. A chef came out and chatted with me, giving the numerous, complicated steps. The three day process, involving duck confit, homemade sausage, and exquisite beans, proved far too time consuming and difficult for my meager cooking skills. Alas, I will have to wait for it to come back on the menu.

Brasserie Four, Walla Walla

Hannah MacDonald, Owner

“Actually, I’ve already got it,” I say, laughing.

In France, a brasserie is an informal, upscale restaurant that traditionally serves the same menu all day. “It’s like a step up from a cafe, but equally casual,” Hannah noted. In keeping with that theme, Brasserie Four is open for both lunch and dinner, serving the same menu at both times. This taste of Paris, located right on Main Street, is Hannah’s way of bringing a little bit of France back to eastern Washington. The simple, classic flavors are both spectacular and perfectly meshed with classic French cuisine.

Hannah MacDonald herself is originally from Walla Walla, but she moved to Paris for her first year of college. She lived with a French family full of extraordinary cooks, who helped her develop her love of food. She then made her way back to the states, where she graduated from Western Culinary Institute in Portland, OR. She moved back to Walla Walla in 2004 and opened Brasserie Four in 2008.

Brasserie Four, Walla Walla

The Brasserie Four kitchen in action

Hannah says that she is inspired by the bounty of local agriculture in the Walla Walla area, allowing her to offer food that is both “responsibly sourced and responsibly priced”. Herbs, greens and edible flowers are provided by a local farm that produces exclusively for the restraunt. They also get produce from Edwards Farms and ‘Vince, the Pickle Guy’. “I try to use everything that is brought to me,” Hannah observes. “[Farmers] bring me something and I try to make something delicious out of it.” Brasserie Four maintains the same ethical standards for its proteins, using Blue Valley Meats, serving only Washington-grown, grain-fed steak, getting seafood from Penn Cove, and cooking shellfish exclusively from the Puget Sound. These practices are evident in the taste of the food, which allows the flavors to shine through in simple, clean, beautiful ways.

Although Brasserie Four is certainly a sophisticated restaurant, the employees make a specific effort to be family-friendly, from their art shows that go to benefit local preschools to their “Kid’s Corner”, a spot perfect for young ones to play around without disturbing other patrons. The Kid’s Corner is so popular, many parents explicitly ask to be seated at Table 3 so they can be placed right next to it. Everything on the menu can be ordered in a kid-sized portion for half the price. “It’s about half the size… usually more than half,” Hannah chuckled. “I want to give people the opportunity to eat well with their families, without [resorting to] normal kid food.”

Brasserie Four Walla Walla

The Dining Room and Bar

Brasserie Four has struck the perfect balance, allowing it to function beautifully both as a family restaurant and as a refined date-night restaurant. It’s one of Walla Walla’s culinary gems. And, if you see the duck cassoulet on the menu, I promise that it is delicious.

Brasserie Four is located at 4 East Main St. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 12:00-10:00pm.

Pairing on Main, a benefit for the Providence St. Mary Cancer Center

granfondo3Walla Faces is excited to participate in the 8th Annual Providence St. Mary Gran Fondo: Pairing on Main. This event, created to benefit people with cancer, offers an amazing opportunity to taste dishes by some of Walla Walla’s best restaurants, paired with local wines. 100% of the proceeds go to the Special Needs Fund at the Providence St. Mary Regional Cancer Center in Walla Walla, which provides support ranging from medication to wigs to supportive undergarments for breast cancer patients. Join us on September 29, 2012 from 6-8:30pm for this inspiring celebration of our town that helps those of us most in need of assistance.

The Providence St. Mary Gran Fondo event is becoming a tradition, showing Walla Walla’s dedication to helping those in need. “Gran Fondo”, which means “the Great Ride” in Italian, is a European tradition that is perfectly captured when traveling across the beautiful eastern Washington landscape. The Pairing on Main, one component of the Providence St. Mary Gran Fondo, is the perfect way to admire the downtown area, getting the quintessential Walla Walla food and wine experience.

At each winery location, participants will have the opportunity to taste the wine and eat a small plate of perfectly paired food. Walla Faces will be matched with the Backstage Bistro.

backstage-bistroThe complete list of pairings includes:
Otis Kenyon/Green Spoon
Rotie Cellars/Brasserie Four
Chataeu Rollat/Aloha Sushi
DaMa Wines/the Marc
The Chocolate Shop/Bright’s Candy and Frosted
Sinclair Estates Vineyards/Graze
Walla Faces/Backstage Bistro

After the event, come back to Walla Faces and listen to our weekend music lineup. Ben Bullington, a Montana-based folk artist, will be playing in the Tasting Room until 9pm.

Tickets for the pairing on Main cost $40 each and can be purchased at the Cancer Center at 401 West Poplar St. They are only selling 150 tickets, so be sure to make your plans early!

In addition the Pairing on Main, Providence St. Mary has a series of other Gran Fondo events. More information about these can be found here.

Entry fees are half price for cancer survivors and for those who are still in treatment.

Not in Walla Walla? Alaska Airlines, who is sponsoring the event, is offering a special discount to get you to the Gran Fondo. Travel to Walla Walla via Alaska between September 26 and October 2 and get a 10% discount. For the discount, enter ECMU09 in the discount box.

Restaurant Spotlight: Bacon and Eggs

Bacon and Eggs Walla WallaThe name says it all: Bacon & Eggs is all about breakfast—with a twist.

An eclectic menu with items inspired by years of travel makes its home in a renovated Jackpot gas station on East Main St. The original walk-in refrigerator is stocked with everything from pineapples to bottles of bubbly, its glass panes frosted, allowing customers to catch a glimpse of staff members walking back and forth between it and the kitchen.

This afternoon, I met up with owner Michelle Adams for a chat about the story behind Bacon & Eggs and the restaurant’s strong support of the local community. Bacon & Eggs is a locavore operation, dedicated to using as many local products and ingredients as possible.

“The Walla Walla valley has so many incredible local things that I feel are almost untapped. If you hop on for the ride, it’s kind of amazing.”

Adams and her partner Michelle Giannunzio moved to Walla Walla from Seattle. They first visited the area in 2006 on a weekend wine tasting trip, and, like many of the small town’s transplants (myself included), instantly fell in love.

Bacon and Eggs KitchenAccording to Adams, opening a restaurant in Walla Walla was “intuitive.” Giannunzio has been whipping up delicious dishes in the kitchen for 25 years, and Adams has worked in the restaurant business for 15.

“We wrote a list down while we were clear-headed of the things that we had to have. And she and I both took, from all of the restaurants we’ve worked in, our top 10 favorite things and our top 10 least favorite things.”

After the move, the two did their fair share of market research before opening the restaurant in December of 2011.

“We spent two years learning the clientele. I worked at T. Macarones and [Giannunzio] was at Brasserie 4. It was actually, for us, in hindsight, the best thing we could have ever done. We spent two years getting to know the people we were about to serve.”

Every aspect of the Bacon & Eggs, from the friendly waitstaff, to the large open window into the kitchen, to the steaming mugs of Stumptown Coffee, fosters the same sense of community on which the restaurant thrives.

“We want you to really see where your food is coming from. It’s a relationship that we really like.”

Bacon and Eggs Walla WallaThe couple’s commitment to hospitality and many of Bacon & Eggs’ gourmet menu items have roots in Mexico, through which Adams and Giannunzio have extensively traveled. Signature dishes include the migas (a scramble of chiles, tortilla and pico de gallo), huevos con chorizo, and an authentic huevos rancheros.

“We love a little spice in things, or a little something unexpected.”

And for an extra kick, add a dash of hot sauce to your meal (there’s a wide selection available on the rack next to the kitchen) or complement it with a breakfast cocktail.

“Try a Bloody Mary or some nice spicy tequila with a chorizo scramble. It really is a good pairing.”

Bacon & Eggs is located at 503 E. Main St. and is open Thursday through Tuesday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.