Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Elysian Brewing Company (Bigger Isnt always better)

Elysian Brewing Company Dual Review

Original Elysian Public House/Brewery Location:
221 E Pike
Seattle, WA 98122

Elysian Fields/Sodo Location
542 First Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104
Elysian's brews have a special place in my heart. Ive enjoyed buying there bottles (Immortal IPA among others) in local grocery stores as well as drinking fresh draft pints all over town. Naturally you would think going to the brewpub location itself would be a great experience and the best way to enjoy one of Seattle's best local Brewers. This is where my dillema is. Although never perfect the original location has been a pleasure to eat and drink at for years. It feels like a real part of the Capital Hill neighborhood where all are welcome. High ceilings and huge windows make you feel like your in a giant living room. The seating consists of low-backed booths and basic wooden tables/chairs. The vibe is almost always noisy (not overly) and full of people having a good time or simply catching up with friends.

Service is probably the biggest downfall of the original location although after several dining experiences Ive gotten used to it. Never bad, but simply slow. The bar seems to always have too little people working for how busy they are yet servers have been mostly friendly and willing to do what they can.
Photo Credit: http://wendyhome.com/

The Food is impressive as far as brewpubs go. Offerings include a variety of unique pub grub including Bangers and Mash (My favorite), Gourmet Mac & Cheese, and Steak Frites, as well as more traditional yet still tasty dishes (A gourmet burger, fish and chips, Philly cheese steak sandwich). Many include some of Seattle's best fat French fries with a variety of dipping sauces to choose from. Vegetarians/Vegans can also eat well with several options. Although I personally cant review them, my friend was very happy with her meal.

The second part of my review is covering the new Elysian Location on Occidental near Quest Field/Safeco Field. The idea seems perfect. Putting another local Micro-Brewery (In addition to Pyramid) near our two local Sports Fields to offer fans something besides the overpriced hot dogs/bud light and henry weinharts they can find inside.

I had only passed by on foot but finally had a chance to eat there this past week. I met a friend who accidentally went to the wrong location. My excitement to try the new location faded quickly upon entering and browsing the menu.

The decor seemed much different than what i was used to. The building felt more like a large chain-brewery (Gordon Biersch, Rock Bottom) and much less like the neighborhood brewpub i loved. The artwork was much more modern and the crowd was completely different.

After getting over my quick judgment of the atmosphere I was hoping eating/drinking would redeem the restaurant and remind me why Ichose to eat there in the first place. Unfortunately that didn't happen. They were out of the summertime favorite Jasmine IPA and the server did not know anything about the Belgian Bottle i asked about (which was featured on the menu). The food menu was half as small as the Capital Hill Location. Although many of my favorites were missing I decided to try the burger. Yet again it didn't come close to its counterpart. The fries, which I had raved about to my friend prior to eating were not the same at all. They had been replaced with generic frozen, skinny fries that lacked flavor or substance.

I applaud the Elysian's success and reputation for there great local beers but I was highly disappointed in there new "bigger" Downtown location. Bigger really isn't always better. See you on the hill.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Liberty-The perfect "Seattle Sushi Bar"

Capital Hill Bar Food
Liberty: Highly Reccomended
517 15th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102

Liberty is quite possibly the perfect “Seattle Sushi Bar”. This is a fairly bold statement in a town with so many great options for sushi yet if your up on 15th I think you will agree there is now only one smart option. A place that combines a unique atmosphere, great sushi, free wi-fi, and good drinks. Did i mention great service? Upon entering, atmosphere is the first thing you will notice. The bar isn’t huge so it can fill up quickly but there is a great vibe in that room. The décor offers a nice selection of unique local art as well as comfortable leather couches and classy high top tables. Or if your dining alone, the bar top is just as easy.
After sitting down, the drinks kept me wanting more. If its early enough Stumptown coffee is served (Great Portland roast). If its night-time you have the usual full-bar options as well as some of my favorite beers to choose from. Notably the very fitting Liberty (San Francisco Pale Ale) and a personal summer favorite Hoegarden; also on tap.The real reason we came though was the sushi. Our group destroyed two large plates of amazing sushi. Its hard to recall one stand out of the bunch but I would definitely recommend the spicy tuna (if you can handle it) or the simple yet amazingly fresh salmon sashimi.

Service was top notch. The bar is hip yet still inviting and the servers/sushi chef all fit the vibe of the friendly, welcoming, quieter area of capital hill. The music was definitely a plus as well. We enjoyed the server’s great IPOD Shuffle selection taking the music all over the place without being obnoxious or cheesy. Tuesday night sushi on 15th is becoming a new ritual. Thanks Liberty!

The Quick Rundown:
Food Menu: Great Sushi…Enough Said
Drink Menu: Liberty Pale/Hoegarden On Tap/ Strong Wells
Crowd: Interesting and friendly. Laid back 15th neighborhood dwellers as well as more people coming from the Pike/Pine scene
Price: Average-Spendy for a good Sushi Bar. Happy Hour deals are good however.
Seating: Several comfy Leather Couches, High top tables, Bar top Stools. Not good for large parties over 8
Service: Excellent!! Friendly Servers, Quick and helpful
Random Tidbits: Current Art Show: “Fucking Hands” is definitely worth seeing

The Redwood: Your Friendly Neighborhood Bar

Living in the heart of Capitol Hill you tend to do two things: drink and eat. That's it. If you can kill two birds with one stone, even better. With that said, it's kind of nice being able to sink in to your favorite neighborhood bar where you can drink like a sailor, where everyone is dingy and dirty and you can even eat something that sort of resembles the people. You are what you eat, to some extent. Casual bar setting with scrump de la scrump comfort food.
Long and behold, The Redwood. Located in an awkard street in the weird part of Belmont Avenue (it sort of cuts off), the Redwood has taken Capitol Hill by storm, but it's too cool for school to let the jocks and UW District infiltrates take up any of its seating. A little discriminatory, but hey...no one wants to see your "Vote For Pedro" shirts here. Every so often, you see the bro-down go down, but it's not that kind of bar. They will eventually go back to Tommy's or Dante's.

Sure everyone is raving about the free peanuts and how you can throw them on the floor like it aint' no thang, but that's just half the rage. Try the Bourbon Sweet Tea (I personally don't like it, because me and Bourbon don't mesh), but it's the cutest thing ever. They have little boot shaped glasses! They are so cute in fact, that I know a certain somebody who stole two of them. Yeah, it's like that. Aside from the reasonably priced drinks, are the even more reasonably priced food menu.

Don't even get me started. After you eat at the Redwood you'll feel a little guilty, and sort of feel like you're going to get a heart attack, but it's a heart attack well worth it. After the Capitol Hill Block Party on Saturday July 29th...I was high as a fucking kite, and really wasted. When I'm high, I'm hungry. Anyway, so me and a couple of pals in the midst of our inebriation decided to take it down a notch. What better way to do so then to fill up your belly with some good ol' comfort food.

Comfort food is definitely the Redwood's forte. For under $11 I got...the green bean casserole, sweet potato fries, and deep fried sweet corn nuggets. Great finger foods to share with your friends. I felt like a lard ball right after, but damn, it was good. Nothing better than alleviating your drunken stupor with a face full of fatty foods. And since Seattle is known for its snobby "I don't eat meat" fad, the Redwood can accomodate the dietary guidelines of the non-meat population.

My friend Sheena ordered the grilled cheese sandwich with sweet potato fries. Only the best grilled cheese sandwich ever. Grilled to perfection, buttery and crisp, and a slice of tomato in the middle for that fresh and juicy contrast. The green bean casserole is a slop mess of pure deliciousness. Canned green beans, mixed in a mushroom cream sauce, and topped with crunchy french onion flakes. The sweet corn nuggets is probably my favorite item on the menu. It's horrible for you, and with each bite your health diminishes, but again, it's worth it. You just pop them in your mouth and you can't help but cum in your pants just a little bit.

The ambiance in this bar is spectacular. It's a hunting evergreen theme, sort of a tribute to the Pacific NW. They have antlers for the chandeliers, vintage owl lamps, and all sorts of decorative touches that could be found in my Uncle Buck's cabin in Enumclaw (if I had an Uncle Buck, and if I was white). The bathrooms have tree stumps for side tables, and the wall art is from the shooting range of deers and bears. It's cabin like charm is what really makes people remember this place.

I've had many drunken nights at this bar, and the best part about it is after last call I don't have to drive drunk. It's just a five minute walk to my humble abode. Overall, the Redwood is a must go! But do beware, there is one cranky bartender there. I don't know his name, but I try my best not to order from him because he scares me.

Smith: Highly Reccomended

Capital Hill Bar Food

332 15th Ave E, Seattle WA

Linda Dershangs newest spot on the top of the hill. Smith lives up to the hype on almost all levels. The classy yet comfortable bar features taxidermy, odd portraits, and a large “garage” style front door making it a perfect pub to chill, eat, and drink at. The jukebox had a nice selection of current stuff as well as the classics (Notably: Bill Withers and Michael Jackson)

The drink/food menu is definitely the highlight. Beer selection is on point including a variety of Belgian (St Bernadus) /Mexican Bottles as well as Northwest favorites on tap (Rat City IPA, PBR, Etc…) If your in-desisive you can always count on the $2 tallboy of Rainier. The Well drinks were stiff and worth the average prices. Happy Hour is daily 4-6pm. The Staff was efficient and friendly. Didn’t experience any long waits.

The Food:
I admire Smith for coming up with a very different “Bar Food” Menu while still sticking to the theme of the bar and making each choice as good as they sound. I’m torn as to a favorite between the well-prepared Angus Beef Burger/Fries combo or the Canadian classic Poutine (French Fries and Gravy). Other notable additions include Deviled Eggs, Sweet Potato Fries, Devils on horseback (Blue cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon) Beet Salad, and more.. Although its obvious Smith is not a first choice for Vegetarian/Vegan Eaters.

The Quick Rundown
Food Menu: Unique and Tasty. Not very Vegetarian Friendly. Poutine/Burger/Sweet Potato Fries were our favs.
Drink Menu: Great Wells. Notable Beers (Including Rat City IPA, St Bernardus Abt 12)
Crowd: Fairly Diverse although quickly becoming known as one of the new Hipster Hangouts.
Price: Slightly Spendy but the food was tasty and the quality beer is always worth it
Seating: Booths, Several long Large Tables, Many small tables
Service: Good Bartenders. Friendly Servers, Quick ID Check
Random Tidbits: Cool Taxidermy Décor, Nice Menu Design

Julianos Pizza: Highly RECCOMENDED

Location: 1211 Pine St, Seattle WA

Juliano’s pizza is not a bar however I felt it necessary to include in the Capital Hill Bar Food issue because of its nearby location to most of capital hills nightlife as well as its late night (3am weekend) hours. Juliano himself is a charector and although his Pizzas and Calzones are made to order, the wait time is easy to pass by with the combination of his innuendo/antics, flat screen TV, and impromptu Karaoke Sessions.

The Food:
You really cant go wrong with anything on the menu although I steer towards the Calzones. They arrive hot and glazed with an amazing garlic herb crust Juliano’s offers a wide array of the usual pizza toppings but also offers an extensive vegan menu and some more interesting gourmet cheeses/toppings. Prices are reasonable.

The Quick Rundown
Food Menu: Right on Point. All the Pizza/Calzone choices you could want
Drink Menu: No Alcohol but Soda/Coffee/Water is available
Price: Reasonable. (Slices are small but tasty)
Crowd: All Walks of Capital Hill Life
Seating: Several Small Tables (Not good for large groups)
Service: Juliano will entertain you. Ladies be warned
Random Tidbits: Vegan Slices/ Hilarious Karaoke Sessions

The Broadway Grill: NOT Reccomended

Capital Hill Bar Food
Broadway Grill: NOT Reccomended
314 Broadway E
Seattle, WA

For so long Broadway Grill seemed as a necessity with late night eating on the Hill. This is no longer the case. The restaurant has pissed off many of its long-time customers including myself. Reasons for this include changes on the menu, raised prices, warm beer, and bad décor among others.

While the drink specials and happy hour prices are still the highlight, they cant save my review. My draft beer has been overly warm on several occasions.

The Food:
The longtime adored Polenta Fries as well as the Jerk Chicken/ Sweet Potatoes are no longer. These being 2 of my favorite items on the menu I was annoyed. The new additions were not only overpriced but portions were quite small (Notably the Mahi Mahi tacos as well as the Burger) Regardless of the reasons for all the change, I feel Broadway must have noticed the negative response. Lets hope they can revive themselves once again and give us a reason to eat/drink something on Broadway besides Dicks Burger and a 40oz.

The Quick Rundown
Food Menu: Lacking Old Favorites. Overpriced. Small Portions
Drink Menu: Good Daily Drink Specials, Great Happy Hour, Warm Beer
Crowd: Mixed Crowd, Gays, Straight, Hipster, Old/Young.
Price: Overpriced (most entrees over $12)
Seating: Booths, Several Large Tables, Many small tables
Service: Decent Service. Slow Bartenders, Friendly Servers
Random Tidbits: Art shows have been Lacking Lately, Open Late