South Lake Union’s Terry Avenue N. is trending towards restaurant row these days, with an eclectic assembly boasting Cuocó, Bravehorse Tavern, Cactus, Portage Bay, Flying Fish and Cal's Classic American.
Now say hello to the newest kid on the block: the hotly anticipated Shanik, which opened on December 5, from acclaimed restaurateur, Meeru Dhalwala. She is the creative force behind Vij’s - founded by her husband, renowned chef Vikram Vij - and Rangoli in Vancouver, B.C. Those celebrated eateries leave critics and consumers alike weak in the knees and happily queued up on the street, waiting for seats.
The 4,000-square-foot space on Terry Avenue N. is delineated for both seating and take-out, with room for 72 in the main dining room and six at a private table in the kitchen. Aside from the latter, no reservations are accepted. (Word to the wise: arrive early.) While waiting, guests in the lounge are frequently offered savory appetizers or refreshing beverages on the house – it’s the kind of generosity Dhalwala is known for.
In case Indian food is new to you, note that Shanik isn’t conventional. It’s Indian fusion, with Turkish notes contributed by her go-to guy and CEO, Oğuz Istif. To give you an idea of their unique culinary collaboration, take these house specialties for a spin:
• Spice-encrusted lamb popsicles with split pea/spinach mash and coconut curry
• Marinated pork medallions with fenugreek and garlic-spiced ricotta
• Roasted eggplant and butternut squash with black chickpeas
The menu is nearly half vegetarian, with special attention to locally sourced and seasonal produce, sustainable seafood and chemical-free meats.
Blue, Gold, Warm and Welcoming
Shanik’s vibe and ambience is flavored by the people it touches, those at work and those at table. In all her restaurants, Dhalwala keeps her kitchens open, revealing the faces and hands of her staff, showing off what they do so well. “It's important that their warmth and knowledge of cooking is expanded into the dining room and shared with customers,” she said.
The décor is wrapped in blue and gold, inspired by the wild Himalayan blue poppy, the Turkish blue evil-eye bead of protection and luck, and the rich golden tones of Indian and Turkish jewelry. Dhalwala indicated that “blue gold” is also another term for water, a precious resource in the world.
When asked what drew her to locate in the South Lake Union neighborhood, Dhalwala said, “There's something exciting about being part of the creative process in a developing community versus moving into a neighborhood that’s already established. We’re a new business and we can play a part in determining the kind of community SLU can and will become in the long run.”
Dhalwalla said that she feels like the mother of her three restaurants. “It's kind of like giving birth…you can hope and plan but you know that you'll be a different parent to each child and each child develops differently. If I had a way to describe our intent for Shanik, it would be ‘exotic generosity’.”