Chef Jason Wilson blends the past and present in new Bellevue restaurant and bar
There’s something to be said about a sense of familiarity and belonging. People and places that remind us of home often leave the greatest impacts. Chef Jason Wilson aims to create that very experience for guests in his new downtown Bellevue restaurant, The Lakehouse.
The James Beard Award-winning chef has more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry and is no stranger to pioneering successful culinary experiences, such as Crush and Miller’s Guild.
The new space is located in the W Hotel at the Lincoln Square Expansion and opened its doors in June. Two years in the making, Wilson has taken the lead in overseeing all aspects of the concept, design and menu choices. He holds a special appreciation for cooking authentically, which for him, means “cooking to a sense of place.” The Lakehouse is a modern farmhouse that will feature foods from the surrounding area, including small ranch meats, local seafood, handmade pasta and more.
Developed with a “modern sensibility,” Wilson celebrates Bellevue’s farm heritage while integrating a twist that speaks to the city’s growing role as a major business hub, as well as shopping and dining destination. His inspiration pulls from the rich history of the city and it’s evolution, especially in the past 30 years. Wilson blends the past and present in a perfect mix of what downtown Bellevue has become and is transforming into.
The chef’s eyes light up when he describes his greatest motivation behind this project and his life goals.
“The opportunity to build teams and to be a part of a team is what drives me forward,” Wilson says.
That drive has earned him multiple awards including Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chef” and Puget Sound Business Journal’s “40 under 40.”
“I never think of what we do as artistry, but more craftsmanship,” he explains.
He recalls the moment he first fell in love with his craft.
“It’s not romantic, but it was pivotal and clear still. I lived in Maui between high school and college and was working at a restaurant as a busboy and bar-back to make enough money to pay rent and buy surfboards,” he says. “My roommates were 10 years older than me and were both trained chefs. After living together for a month, they switched my schedule from the front of house, where my skills were horrible, to the kitchen, where I worked for the remainder of my 10 months.
One night, a few weeks in, the three of us bought a 75-pound ahi tuna from one of the charter boats. After work, we cooked steaks on the grill at midnight, made sashimi on eggs for breakfast, made poke (long before it was a fad), had sandwiches with oil-cured tuna salad and made some jerky. I never looked back. I saw the experiences that came from this fish and what we created. I learned so much from these two and was inspired to continue. I am still on that journey—inspired to create, inspired to give, inspired to mentor and serve the best I can.”
That experience has also inspired the chef’s unique design concept for the farmhouse. He describes the aesthetic as “more like a house, operating as a restaurant,” without traditional restaurant features. Its open design features prominent glass to promote transparency. Bar seating allows guests to view the whole cooking process and everything will be counter height as opposed to standard bar height.
The blue paint was inspired by a modern industrial and old-school farmhouse effect, and the walls will feature local art pieces.
It will also cater to guests seeking privacy, offering a private dining area with shuttered doors.
Speaking of privacy, Wilson is also creating a speakeasy-inspired cocktail experience called Civility & Unrest. The bar is located in the same building, under the restaurant and offers a sexy, edgier experience for guests. The design encourages discovery right from the entrance, with the perfect blend of mystery that still provides the same transparency as The Lakehouse.
Both spaces reflect Bellevue’s growth over the years while staying true the community’s roots. Wilson is committed to promoting this sense of belonging and teamwork through accountability.
“Always be ready to learn and be the first to acknowledge when you’re wrong. A really good friend said this to me a few years back, and we still work together, and oftentimes will remind ourselves of this equally,” he shares.
Wilson proves that a modern feel can still provide guests with that special experience that most people describe as “home.”
The Lakehouse, located at 10455 NE Fifth Place, is open daily. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, contact 425.454.7075 or visit TheLakehouseBellevue.com.