The farm-to-table movement hasn't always existed; it's been a long, not always easy campaign. We idealize the bucolic countryside, that distant vista of fields and farms, but it takes a leap of faith to "eat your view." The French know better. Spending a weekend à la campagne isn't an abstract concept (or going camping), it's just "getting out of town." The concept of Campagne, in the Pike Place Market, was to reconcile the two notions, to bring the farms closer to the city.
So here we are a quarter-century later. Peter Lewis, the restaurant's creator, sold it in 2005 to a Bay Area real estate developer named Simon Snellgrove and became a writer of murder mysteries. The kitchen was in the capable hands of Culinary Institute of America-traiined Daisley Gordon; Cyril Fréchier, Seattle's best French sommelier, had been on staff for four years. The Café downstairs was full of Market-visiting tourists. But in the sheltered courtyard upstairs, the sails of the fine-dining flagship were luffing. A big, big breath of fresh air was called for.
Snellgrove closed Campagne in January for a remodel and repositioning. Like all do-overs, it took a lot longer than expected, but the results are stunning. Except for the dining room chairs, it's a completely new restaurant. Now named Marché, the French word for market, it promises a much simpler, less expensive menu (pork shoulder, $22, is now the most expensive item on the menu) along with a short list of approachable wines.
A francophile cycling enthusiast named Cameron Williams has been recruited as general manager, and the Australian-born Snellgrove, satisfied with the transition, has formally passed the baton as managing partner to his Jamaica-born chef, Gordon. The transition from field to market is complete.
If you go: Marché, 86 Pine St. (in the courtyard of the Inn at the Market), Seattle, 206-728-2800.