Jef Fike was 16 when he first worked in a restaurant, one owned by a couple with two parrots that would occasionally yell "Fuck you!" during dinner. It was a trip to the French town of Cassis that inspired him to open his own restaurant (you guessed it: Cassis) on north Capitol Hill in 1997. The place was so popular, he briefly opened another restaurant, Bandol, in the Smith Tower, which apparently is haunted. "We saw ghosts there all the time," Jef told me. Cassis closed in 2004 (for non-ghost-related reasons), then former regulars invited Jef to reopen in their beachside building on Alki this past spring. The view is much, much better at the new location, especially at sundown.
The third week of every month, Jef and Cassis's pastry chef come up with new seasonal dishes. They have to be seasonal—Cassis's freezer is only big enough for ice cream and sorbet. The stuffed figs with thyme crème frâiche tasted just-picked, and went well with the Beach Bramble, a rye-based cocktail with Dolin Rouge and Scrappy's Bitters that balances gracefully between sweet and astringent. When asked the oddest thing he can recall a customer doing, he said, "When the sun sets here, it kind of streams into the restaurant. A woman came up and said, 'Can you do something about the sun, please?' I said, 'Ma'am, I wish I were that powerful—I wouldn't be working 70 hours a week.'"