SEATTLE - If just hearing the words French, white linens and extensive wine list have you clutching your wallet - relax. Rover's in Madison park isn't as intimidating as you may think.
"More and more people are realizing there's nothing scary about this restaurant," says chef-owner Theirry Rautureau, who bought Rover's during a trip to Seattle in 1986.
"It's comfortable, it's not uptight."
Surprisingly, he says the biggest mistake he made was keeping the name, Rover's.
"You keep the name thinking you're going to keep the customers," he says. "But the problem is, the customers didn't come for you, they came for the other guy."
He says it took about seven years to get Rover's off the ground.
"But I was having fun. It's my little playground, you know? I was having fun in terms of 'at least I was doing it my way.' But it was a painful way to do it, I mean, talk about some days, 'no customers! What are we going to do?'"
Thierry says a brutal apprenticeship he underwent in France at age 14 prepared him for the hard times.
"Mentally and physically it was very abusive. I would never wish it upon anybody else. It was absolutely terrible," he says.
But it's a farm his grandparents tended in a small town in France that gives Theirry happy memories.
"The kitchen of my childhood memory for that farm was a giant communal table in the center and a giant fireplace with wood burning and a giant cauldron. In that cauldron there would always be something cooking."
That simple and organic way of cooking is how Theirry does things in his own kitchen today.
"Nothing beats a beautiful head of lettuce that just come from the garden. You wash it, you dry it and you make a salad. This is like so simple, but it's so damn good! You know, just a little dressing and you're done."
But Theirry says the simplest thing you can do - food or no food - is sit down with friends and family each day.
"There is so much pleasure to just be sitting around the table with nothing - a cup of coffee. I mean, to me, that's the pleasures of life."
Places Thierry likes to Go Eat!: Palace Kitchen, Harvest Vine, Cactus (Madison Park), Nishino, Voila, Chinoise, Licorous, Lark, Coupage, Brasa, Tilth, Cremant, Wild Ginger, Crush, Crow.
For more information: