The Phoenecia is back and better than ever; Beloved restaurant reopens in the West Seattle Junction
By Patrick Robinson
The Phonencia Restaurant, which closed last winter on Alki has been gloriously reimagined and reborn in the West Seattle Junction.
The restaurant whose original location in 1975 was some 250 feet west of their new home at 4717 42nd SW was founded by Hussein Khazaal and his wife Inaam. When Hussein passed away in 2009 they closed briefly then reopened determined to carry his legacy forward. Last winter they were forced out of their location on Alki Beach and had to find a new home. Now they are back where they started, infused with their Lebanese culture, memories and some modern takes on both food and drink. They open to the public on Tuesday, Sept. 24.
Led by Nadia Khaazal the team at The Phoenecia now includes Tony Larson serving as a consultant and trainer, Head Chef Abel Martinez, Sous Chef Kyle Kisner, Taye Edwards bartender, Chris Jensen, bartender. and serving staff Sonya Castillo and Jeffery and Joey Fish.
Nadia said, "Our chef & sous chef & line cook Edith came back to work with us along with front of the house Joey & Jeff. It means a lot to me to have them back."
Larson is a highly regarded local fixture having previously consulted at other West Seattle restaurants and who is now about to launch his own firm BarWorks. “It was the best decision I made in hiring him,” said Nadia, “He’s been above and beyond amazing.” This step was necessary since previously they had only served beer and wine. Larson is the brain behind the creation of the Phoenecia’s new signature cocktails like The Empress with Empress Gin (from Victoria BC’s Empress Hotel) which is purple, foam made from Aquafaba (juice from garbanzo beans a Lebanese staple), lavender, and honey. Another is The Phoenecia using spices from their famous 39 Spice Beef infused into Rum with half the glass rolled in cinnamon, and The Burj Royale a take on a French 75 champagne cocktail served in a very tall thin glass named after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
The interior was inspired by a trip Inamm, Nadia and Sonya Khazaal took to the middle east and Lebanon last spring. They visited restaurants, private homes and public spaces to take pictures and get a feel for what might work in the new space. The result is both glamorous and extremely welcoming. Copper counter tops, black marble bar top, crystal chandeliers, green walls, palm trees, copper colored seating all reflect what Beirut showed them. Often referred to as “The Paris of the Middle East” the city’s homes and restaurants share a modest exterior with beautiful bordering on stunning interiors. It was all made real by Heidi Taft who is a West Seattle interior designer. “She put in a lot of work to make my vision become reality,” said Nadia. Nadia also gave a lot of credit to her sister Sonya, who “was one of the persistent voices in my ear telling me we need to reopen this place together.” Sonya herself is “very excited about the new space/vibe/everything and plans to be all in with running the business with me, said Nadia.
Many of the interior elements were painstakingly prepared by Nadia who personally reupholstered all the seating, hand painted the chandeliers with copper paint, and re-painted the existing black wall covering a glistening emerald green.
On one wall are photographs, newspaper clippings and the centerpiece, a painting of Hussein by artist Denise DeLuca showing him emerging from the kitchen with one of his most beloved dishes, “The Jewel of the Ocean.”
The Phoenecia became well known for several dishes in fact including the Balsamic Braised Lamb Shank, Rosemary Grilled Lamb Chops, Wild Salmon (made with a Lebanese red wine reduction) and more.
Brought back from their previous incarnation are their small plates like 39 Spice Beef, Tiger Prawns, Saffron Chicken, Garlic Green Beans, and many more.
To keep making their very popular pizzas meant installing a major hood in what is a smaller space kitchen. The result is that not only are the pizzas crisp and amazing the kitchen is a comfortable place to work.
Proscuitto de Parma, Fig & Pancetta, Sausage & Peppers and vegan options like Roasted Squash, Truffle Oil and Mushroom and of course a Margarita Pizza are all on the menu.
West Seattle’s Husky Deli even figured in bringing back something Hussein himself served, in the form of Rose Ice Cream and Inamm’s own recipe is used for their rich and authentic Baklava.
The Phoenecia has come full circle. Now under the care of Nadia and Sonya and the watchful eye of Inaam, Hussein’s vision for a casual and elegant dining space has been restored. What would he think? “I think he’d be beaming with pride,” said Nadia. “I think he’d say, ‘Good Job’, said Inaam.
The Phoenecia can seat 54 people, is open from 4pm to 10pm six days a week (closed Mondays) with seven days a week planned. A happy hour will be offered soon, pre dinner hours with discounted cocktails, beer and wine. Outdoor seating is being planned for next spring. Parking is available on the street, in the garage across the street or in the building garage in the retail spaces. Call them at 206-935-6550. http://phoeneciawestseattle.com (An all new website will make its appearance soon).
Can't wait! Looks great!
Amen so happy that you are back ???
So glad to have Phoenecia back in the junction I remember when they were next door and William Sonya and Nadia were darling sweet children They add a unique flair to West Seattle No one could ever replace Hussein But his Family will carry on his incredible food and hospitality
Looks fabulous, I know Hussein would be beaming with pride! Can't wait to come and see you!
See you soon. We've missed you.
Terry and Glen