When the beloved Kingfish Cafe closed in 2014, after nearly 20 years in operation, Seattleites wondered what could possibly replace it. Fortunately, the guys behind such local institutions as Lost Lake Cafe and Comet Tavern have turned the former soul-food spot into an Italian restaurant that pays homage in both name and decor to Ernest Hemingway. Ernest Loves Agnes is a reference to the nurse whom Hemingway fell in love with while recuperating from a war injury in Milan. The striking space features black-and-white photos of Hemingway’s haunts in Key West, poster-size photographs of scenes from Cuba, and the front half of a Vespa suspended above the entrance. The food, though, is grounded in Italy by chef Mac Jarvis (Lost Lake, Smith, Lola) and includes crisp pizzas with seasonal toppings like maitake mushrooms and leek cream as well as housemade pasta (squid-ink ravioloni, for instance, filled with lobster mushrooms and sheep’s-milk cheese). One surprise favorite: half an acorn squash lightly charred and seasoned with sage. It’s a perfect wintry side to accompany a cocktail at the bar—perhaps the Hemingway Daiquiri.
600–602 19th Ave. E.