Promising the fancy and rare — if not especially cutting-edge — combination of steak cooked on a wood-fired grill and a robust sushi bar, Ascend Prime Steak and Sushi is opening on the 31st floor of Bellevue’s Lincoln South Tower (10400 NE 4th Street #3100) June 15. The owners, Ascend Hospitality Group, are also behind the building’s Lincoln South Food Hall, which opened about six months ago with seven fast-casual restaurants.
Ascend Prime is another major project for the group, and appears to have a lot of money behind it. The setting is top-notch and the impressive employee roster includes folks with experience at Din Tai Fung, Sushi Kashiba, Loulay, John Howie Steak, and fine-dining legend Michael Mina’s restaurants.
Culinary director Kevin Hee worked for celebrity chef Sam Choy in Hawaii and for Michael Mina in Vegas, and was the opening chef at Vegas’ Gordon Ramsay Steak. Executive chef Sean Mayhew also worked for Mina and Ramsay and served as an advising chef on the opening of Lincoln South Food Hall.
Executive sous chef Derek Bugge is returning from hiatus after leaving South Lake Union restaurant 2120, where he was opening chef. Behind the sushi bar is Yuki Ieto, who was most recently the executive sushi chef at Sushisamba in Las Vegas and sushi chef at Okada at the Wynn Las Vegas. He’s assisted by James Saito, whose resume includes local icons Sushi Kashiba and Sushi Kappo Tamura.
Ascend Prime has made strong hires elsewhere, too: Beverage director Brandon Rastok has his Advanced Sommelier Certification and worked at Osteria La Spiga and John Howie Steak, bar manager Fred Cruz spent many years in an equivalent role at dumpling powerhouse Din Tai Fung, and general manager Michael Rico is uniquely suited for a steak-and-sushi restaurant after his time at El Gaucho and Sushi Kashiba. There’s even a designated pastry chef, Marta Eimer, in a role that’s increasingly rare in today’s restaurant world. It’s an auspicious sign for the dessert menu.
The restaurant looks to have some pretty impressive views, too, thanks to its sky-high perch. Diners will have a 360-degree view of the Seattle skyline, Bellevue, Lake Washington, and the Cascades through floor-to-ceiling windows. In addition to the dining room, there’s also a lounge and cocktail bar, indoor fire pits, and a patio, and a private dining manager position, held by Rachel Lloyd, suggesting there are plenty of ways for diners to customize their own exclusive events.
Ascend Prime sure does sound like it’s bringing its A-game in terms of staff and visuals, but steak and sushi feels like playing it safe in a swanky setting; will the large team ensure substance behind the splash? Time will tell if the entire experience comes together.