Christopher Peterson has worn many hats in the restaurant world, from dishwasher to executive chef. Now he can add that most coveted title — co-owner — to his business card, along with general manager, operations, host, bartender, and whatever else needs to be done at Bake’s Bar & Bistro (formerly known as Bake’s Place) in Bellevue. Peterson helped open the restaurant/music venue in 2012, when Bake’s Bar & Bistro co-owner Craig Baker moved the jazz club from his home in Issaquah to the Columbia West Building on the corner of 108th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Second Street. As the venue struggled through its growing pains, Peterson took positions heading up food programs at Nordstrom and then the Bellevue Club. But now he is back, and this time with a stake in the game.
“I’ve always believed in the concept, fusing together two things that are near and dear to my heart: hospitality and music. Now my motivation is even greater,” said Peterson. Things have come full circle for Peterson, who brings a chef mentality to the operation side of Bake’s Bar & Bistro. And change is in the air.
The most significant change is in the phrasing. At one point, Bake’s Place was seen as a music venue that served food. “Since the beginning, I’ve been saying it needs to be a restaurant that happens to have live music,” said Peterson, who is overseeing the transition to a fuller-service type of food program, including lunch counter service and eliminating cover charges during musical acts with the exception of the Saturday night shows.
“I’ve always believed in the concept, fusing together two things that are near and dear to my heart: hospitality and music.”
Earlier in the summer, they implemented several fun themes to introduce guests to the tastier side of Bake’s, like Taco/Tequila Tuesdays and BBQ & Whiskey Wednesdays. Chef Joseph Bollag took the helm in January and is a third-generation chef who has worked for many of Seattle’s great chefs like Thierry Rautureau and Tamara Murphy. He leans toward “New American” cuisine influenced by his travels abroad to places like Spain as well as his experiences cooking in Los Angeles, where Korean flavors make their mark on chefs of all persuasions.
The menu consists of many familiar items — classic Caesar salad, Kobe beef burger, dry-aged rib eye, chicken wings, mac and cheese — but executed with style and quality. The macaroni and cheese, for example, consists of raclette cheese, marrow-infused onion, and Fresno chili. “The food I serve is from my heart and soul,” said Bollag, whose dishes are as pretty as they are tasty, thanks to a background in graphic art. And then there is the patio — arguably the largest patio on the Eastside tucked under beautiful ornamental maple trees with two giant Jenga games, a fire table, heat lamps, and an outdoor Whiskey bar featuring 145 whiskeys and counting. An on-site herb garden keeps the kitchen in fresh greens, while several varieties of edible flowers are sourced from the sous chef’s personal garden. “Bellevue is exploding right now. I’m excited to get up every morning. This is what I do. I love it.”