Nine years is a long time, I guess. Back in June of 2006, Obama had not yet been elected President, but inside a non-descript building along Old Main Street in Bellevue there opened a restaurant with a point to prove: that you didn't have to serve tasty food or decent drinks to be successful.
It was called the 520 Bar & Grill, and we wrote one of our typically snarky reviews here on Cornichon. "A lapse of taste," we titled it. Even though most of the comments agreed the place needed some serious work, Bellevue's restaurant community seems to have rallied behind the business.
The owners, Joseph & Randi & Brazen, are real estate agents, owners of one of the local Sotheby's franchises. The executive chef is an unknown line cook. Yet without a lot of competition, their bar & grill has been voted "best casual meeting place" seven years in a row by the Bellevue Downtown Association. Bravo. Seriously.
But here's something to ponder: prices do not seem to have budged. Those coconut prawns, back in 2006, were $14. They're still $14. Back then, Cornichon complained about the lack of seasoning. Now I wonder what they've been smoking for the past decade. They've just announced that 520 will create a new restaurant for the upcoming expansion of Lincoln Square. In his marketing wisdom, Kemper Freeman seems to have determined that it's a good idea to create cookie-cutter dining opportunities to bring shoppers into his retail empire.
It's not going to be easy. Bellevue's food scene has undergone some trendy upgrades in recent years. You've now got Joey's, Equus, Pearl, Maggiano's, McCormick's, Daniel's and Palomino, among the high-ticket competitors. Not like sleepy Old Main. On the other hand, the Brazens are probably paying more attention to the peeps buying those multi-million-dollar listings. Seems like a good idea, dudes.
520 Bar & Grill, 10146 Main St., Bellevue 425-450-0520