Tag: Seattle

My Life at Home with Linda Derschang, Seattle Restaurateur

Welcome to My Life at Home, where we slow down for just a minute to share a glimpse into the lives of food lovers we’d love to get to know better. Kick off your shoes and get comfy!


Running a restaurant takes serious work. Running restaurants plural takes guts and a good dose of secret sauce. There’s a reason why certain places make it, and if you’re lucky, certain places are good at reproducing their vibe in a successful cadre of subsequent venues. This is what Linda Derschang of The Derschang Group has been doing—with gusto—over the past 25-plus years.

The veteran restaurateur has made her mark on Seattle’s dining scene since 1994, when she opened her first bar, Linda’s Tavern with Sub-Pop Records, the label that made it with Nirvana (R.I.P. Kurt Cobain). Since then, she’s put her Midas Touch on numerous bars and restaurants, including Oddfellows Café, Smith, Tallulah’s, King’s Hardware, and most recently, Queen City. I have yet to make it to the Emerald City, but I already feel a kinship with Linda’s portfolio of popular haunts. The menus, the style (which you’ll soon see is an extension of her very cool, individual taste)—you just know a place is good when it gives you those warm and inviting, where-everybody-knows-your-name Cheers-y vibes.

I recently had the chance to bend Linda’s ear and ask the busy boss lady—who’s called Seattle home since 1987—about her condo-home life (when she can fit it in!) in the Belltown neighborhood, and the challenges of staying relevant in such a competitive industry over the years. Read along—and be prepared for some next-level Westie cuteness.

HANA ASBRINK: Hi, Linda. How long have you lived in your current home and what do you love most about it?

LINDA DERSCHANG: I’ve lived in my condo for two years. I love the convenience of being right in the city, and having beautiful views and a terrace.

Linda’s great eye for design on display in her Seattle condo.

Photo by Catherine Landers

HA: Describe your decorating style for us. Who are your design influences?

LD: I always want to achieve a combination of style and comfort. I’m mainly influenced by travel, but also books and magazines, and I can certainly go down the Instagram rabbit hole.

There’s not one main designer who has influenced me. I pick up inspiration and ideas here and there. The Eames Lounge Chair is the best reading chair, hands down. I had wanted one for years, but moving into the condo meant I had the perfect place for it. I decided to buy a new one instead of vintage so that I could wear it in myself. I’m planning on reading in it for the next 20 years—or more, if I’m lucky.

The Eames Lounge Chair sitting pretty in front of a wall of ready-to-read books.

Photo by Catherine Landers

HA: What are your favorite home retailers?

LD: I love ABC Carpet & Home in New York City. I shop at vintage stores around Seattle, and I buy from Design Within Reach and a bit of IKEA. I also thrift and hit flea markets.

Midcentury homage with a tulip dining table and vintage Marcel Breuer Cesca chairs.

Photo by Catherine Landers

HA: If your walls could talk, what would they say?

LD: “She baby talks to her dog WAY too much.” Ha, the joys of living alone.

HA: Tell us more about your beautiful Westie. How does he make himself at home?

LD: My Westie is named Jack. He’s 11 and really just the best dog ever. Well, most of the time—he’s a terrier, after all. He makes himself at home on every cushion in the house, on the bed, and on both sofas. He also loves hanging out on the terrace watching birds. And he brings in The New York Times most days (not the Sunday edition, of course).

HA: Where could we find you on any given weeknight?

LD: I’m out quite a bit. You could find me at one of my spots checking in and meeting friends, especially at my newest place, Queen City. I also know a lot of people in the creative world, including artists, so I go to a lot of openings and dance performances. I also love lectures, book readings, and band performances.

HA: How often are you able to spend time at home?

LD: I spend a couple of nights a week at home. Honestly, if I was at home for four nights in a row, I’d probably have to be ill.

HA: Do you have a signature drink or dinner-party fare?

LD: It depends on the time of year, but in the summer I love to serve Aperol Spritzes and rosé; a watermelon, feta, and dry-cured olive salad with cold roast chicken; and Frankie & Jo’s ice cream. It’s simple, healthy, and delicious.

I’m also big on having friends come over and cook at my house. I love prepping the house for parties, and if I’m not cooking, I can just take care of the music and make sure everyone is having fun. (And most of my friends are much better cooks than I am anyway.)

Linda’s home: ready to serve friends at a moment’s notice.

Photo by Catherine Landers

HA: What is your ultimate comfort food?

LD: A cheeseburger.

HA: What do you always keep in your fridge?

LD: Wine, hummus, corn tortillas, sauerkraut, some sort of greens, and cheese.

Open sesame.

Photo by Catherine Landers

HA: What is your favorite way to relax after a long week?

LD: Hanging out on the sofa with my dog, a glass of wine, Lay’s potato chips, and a book or The New Yorker. Or dinner out with friends! It could go either way.

HA: What is the biggest joy and challenge of running your own business?

LD: The biggest joy is all about the people—both the guests and my team. I’ve met so many amazing people over the years. And I also love the freedom of being an owner, but that does mean there’s a lot of responsibility, obviously.

Staying relevant is a big challenge in the bar and restaurant business. There are always new places opening, which means we really need to do our best to keep people coming back. And having the right team is so important and critical to creating the right kind of culture.

HA: How has this changed over time, specifically in the recent handful of years?

LD: Because I’ve been doing this for more than three decades, I’m trying to be less hands-on. It’s hard to let go of some of the control, but you have to build a team you can trust.

HA: What’s on your playlist right now?

LD: Father John Misty, Nina Simone, Francois Hardy, Solange, Belle & Sebastian, The Specials, Nick Cave, a little classical, and some Indian devotional music.

HA: What are your favorite Food52 recipes?

LD: The Warm Squash and Chickpea Salad with Tahini is a favorite. Also the Charred Broccoli and Lentil Salad. There really are so many great salad recipes I’ve used from Food52.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


What part of Linda’s home draws you in the most? Let us know below!

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Three Days in Seattle – Playful Cooking

Three Days in Seattle | Playful Cooking #travel #seattle #photography

Our New Year started with a short trip to Seattle. We explored the city and had a quick cooking demo along cookbook signing at Book Larder. We had been to Seattle before but it was only for a short few hours during our Portland trip. However, that was during pre-baby phase. Avyan loves traveling and as soon as we mentioned about Seattle, all we had to hear for one week was “When are we going there?”. Clearly, we shouldn’t have announced it that early. Anyways, the three days in Seattle were amazing with lots of strolling around, eating almost non-stop and we loved the city vibe.

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We reached very early morning and couldn’t have checked in at hotel until late afternoon. Hence, we decided to stroll around and enjoy some delicious food.

Marc Blackwell Cafe

We had a quick breakfast at Marc Blackwell Café. A small place with very limited sitting capacity but the décor was absolutely beautiful with lots of interesting stuff to buy. The food was great but it came super late and I was a little disappointed with the service. However, the food was delicious and we were too hungry. So, we simply dived in and didn’t take any photos. I had a Breakfast Sandwich and Arvind ordered Chicken Apple Sandwich. Avyan took bites from us but he couldn’t resist the Chocolate Croissant.

Three Days in Seattle | Playful Cooking #travel #seattle #photographyThree Days in Seattle | Playful Cooking #travel #seattle #photography

Pike Market & Giant Wheel

Then, we strolled in the Pike Market, enjoyed our ride in the Giant Wheel and grabbed a coffee from the very first Starbucks that was built in 1971. Pike Market is just beautiful, filled with such beautiful fresh produce and local stores.

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Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar

When a city has so many beautiful restaurants, it’s tough to make a choice. But, I am so glad that we went to Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar. We indulged on shellfish and we loved every single thing we ordered! The Brazilian Shellfish Stew was the best.

Three Days in Seattle | Playful Cooking #travel #seattle #photography

Beecher’s Cheese shop

The shops in Seattle definitely know how to attract a customer. We walked by the Beecher’s Cheese shop and were so thrilled to see the cheese making process from the window. Avyan loved it so much that we went back the next day to see it once again. Of course, we had to taste and we took Mac and Cheese from there as it is Avyan’s favorite dish for now.

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Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

Then we came across Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory where we viewed a giant pot of caramel being made from the window. How can you resist that! Avyan didn’t take even a second to make a choice.

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Bottega Italiana & Pike Place Chowder

It was really cold, at least for us (bay area weather has spoilt us), but the gelato at Bottega Italiana came highly recommended and we couldn’t just walk pass without trying. Later, we warmed up with the best Clam Chowder in town. If you are in Seattle, you have to stand in line and enjoy a bowl of clam chowder at Pike Place Chowder. I did wish they had more indoor seating because it was so cold outside.

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Toulouse Petit

For Dinner, we went to Toulouse Petit. The décor was so rich and intricate. I ordered Fennel Braised Pork Shoulder Sugo with Housemade Ricotta Gnocchi and Fried Sage and Arvind ordered Blackened Pacific Long Line Rockfish with Creole Crawfish-Tasso Sauce. Both the dishes had such robust flavor and cooked to perfection. I didn’t have my camera but had to capture the dish, so I just used my iPhone!

Three Days in Seattle | Playful Cooking #travel #seattle #photography

Lola

Restaurant Lola was on our list for breakfast. We loved the menu and wanted to try octopus for the first time. I ordered Tom’s Favorite Breakfast and Arvind ordered Greek scramble. My favorite part from both the dishes was those crispy potatoes. It didn’t look very appetizing. May be if it was sliced in half, it would have looked more appealing. These potatoes are baked and then deep-fried, the skin was crunchy and the potatoes were super-soft. It was just amazing! Once again, I forgot to carry my camera and hence, iPhone to rescue.

Three Days in Seattle | Playful Cooking #travel #seattle #photography

Piroshky Piroshky

And of course we couldn’t have missed Piroshky Piroshky! We tried the marzipan roll, potato and mushroom piroshky and smoke salmon pate. The smoke salmon pate was definitely the best. 

Museum of Flight

The last day of the trip turned out to be a rainy day. We couldn’t have gotten that lucky, right? So, we spent half the day in the Museum of Flight.

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Book Signing at Book Larder

Our trip ended with a book-signing event at Book Larder where I also did a quick cooking demo from the book. I never did a cooking demo before and loved the experience. It was also amazing to finally meet some of these amazing food bloggers that I have been following.

Three Days in Seattle | Playful Cooking #travel #seattle #photography

It was a short but a fun trip!

Three Days in Seattle | Playful Cooking #travel #seattle #photography

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