In the 1940s the streetcar line that brought mass transit to West Seattle ended in Fauntleroy and ever since the neighborhood nickname has been Endolyne.
Let's hope Endolyne Joe's, the new Fauntleroy restaurant whose name pays homage to those bygone days, isn't the end of the line for owners Peter Levy and Jeremy Hardy.
Their company, Chowfoods, makes a specialty of bringing lively, come-one-come-all eateries to neighborhoods in need of serious comfort food such as all-day breakfasts, hearty pork chop suppers, "FDRs" (fries done right) and macaroni and cheese made from scratch. Queen Anne has the 5-Spot, Wallingford has Jitterbug, Capitol Hill has Coastal Kitchen, University Village has Atlas Foods. Now those lucky ducks in West Seattle get Endolyne Joe's.
The neighborhood's welcome took even these veteran restaurateurs by surprise: business during their opening week at the end of May was 70 percent above projections. Luckily, their staff is as well-seasoned as the fries: Chef Janel Nonhoff is from Jitterbug, sous chef Adam Roberts is from 5-Spot, and general manager Dicki Crumm has 13 years with the company.
The waitstaff displays considerable finesse as well. Ready with a quip, they coddle children and adults with equal aplomb; keep glasses full and tables bussed; and manage even large, maddeningly indecisive groups with equanimity.
Occasional shouts of "Eighty-six special" or "One chop" add to the American diner ambiance suggested by the eat-at counter and gleaming blue-and-white tiled kitchen.
An excellent venue for families, fixed-incomers or raucous soccer celebrations, the place gets downright romantic in the shadows of evening, especially in the brick-walled Last Stop Lounge, where an antique oak bar beguiles both Negroni-sipping noshers and the burger-and-beer bunch.
Blurring the line between breakfast and lunch, Endolyne's "Blunch" satisfies all kinds of a.m. cravings up until 3 p.m. daily, offering oatmeal and granola; migas (scrambled eggs, chilies and chorizo sausage) and huevos rancheros; griddlecakes and egg dishes like the Hamorama ($8.75), a porcine triple-play involving cheddar, scallions and three kinds of ham.
A pair of fine, fluffy griddlecakes, two eggs and bacon grace Kathryn's Grand Slam Breakfast ($7.75), also available for half-pints at half the size for half the price. Real cornbread, coarse, crumbly and golden from the griddle stars in the Savannah Morning Meal ($7.75). The buttery wedges play like Scarlett O'Hara, but there's no sass in the andouille sausage — it's more Ashley Wilkes than Rhett Butler — and the corn-flecked cream sauce is as meek as Miss Melly.
There's plenty of sass in the pulled pork barbecue sandwich ($8.75). Served in a soft bun that soaks up the tongue-tingling sauce with a stack of long, skinny, skin-on fries, it's one of nearly a dozen sandwiches that, along with soups and salads, comprise the weekday lunch menu.
Cobb salad ($8.25/$10.25), jammed with all the requisite ingredients, was top-notch. A small version held up its end of a soup and salad bargain lunch ($7.75); but that day's soup, milky conch chowder somewhat short on the eponymous shellfish, was a letdown.
Conch may seem an unusual choice for chowder in these parts, but it fits the restaurant's current theme: Key Largo. As at all the Chowfoods properties, Endolyne Joe's introduces a new theme quarterly; the décor and even the soundtrack change along with the specials. It's a smart way to keep a neighborhood spot from falling into the "same-old, same-old" rut in the minds of regulars. But it may disappoint those who traveled Route 66 all summer, relishing road food like Kansas City-style ribs ($15.75) so smoky you could smell them coming across the room; and ketchup-coated meatloaf way better than mom's ($11.75).
Those American classics were replaced at the end of August by an island-accented card featuring chorizo-stuffed empanadas ($6.75), snapper with a coconut curry sauce ($12.50) and chicken adobo marinated in citrus, cilantro, garlic and cumin ($14.50).
But you can still count on finding impossibly light and seriously addictive rounds of zucchini deep-fried with paper-thin lemon slices and basil leaves ($5.75); a bucket of fresh Manila clams simply steamed in garlic and white wine ($8.75); buttermilk battered onion rings ($5.25) sturdy enough to scoop up garlicky, caper-loaded remoulade sauce; and cayenne-spiked chicken fried steak in white gravy riddled with crunchy bits of deep-fried batter ($12.75).
The hearty pork chop supper ($14.50) is a perennial too. On this plate of many competing flavors, mashed potatoes serve as a kind of DMZ, separating the brawny chop glazed in a hoisin and soy sauce from braised red cabbage strewn with blue cheese. As a dish it works about as well as the United Nations, satisfying some palates more than others, but I tired of the argument after a few bites.
If you can even think about dessert after a meal like that, think about pillow-soft, bourbon and caramel-sauced bread pudding ($4.25) or anything involving Olympic Mountain ice cream.
Endolyne Joe's is trying hard to be a good neighbor, and unlike the restaurants other namesake, Joe, an infamous, ne'er do well conductor on the streetcar line, it's doing its job very well.
Providence Cicero: email@example.com