How many times have you seen an advertisement for a restaurant, fast food or otherwise, where the food being shown looks simply incredible? The ribs look perfect, with just the right amount of sauce. The burger looks thick and juicy, with plenty of lettuce, tomato and cheese. That dish of Italian pasta? It’s virtually overflowing from the dish and covered in a decadent sauce and curls of hand-shaved Asiago cheese. But what happens when you actually go to these places and order what you saw in the ad? Unfortunatley, most of the time it’s a bit of a disappointment. The ribs are dry and overcooked, and they want to charge your for extra sauce. The burger looks like something someone sat on while on the bus. The pasta looks more like something that came out of a can with Chef Boyardee smiling at you from the label. Have you ever had such an experience? It can be disappointing to say the least.
Well, that is definitely not the case with the Seattle craft beer food scene. Many of the craft beer bars and breweries that serve food in Seattle have been setting a higher standard, and it shows in the consistent quality and creativity of the food they serve. In some restaurants you want to be wary of ordering the special, since that often means it’s something close to its expiration date that the kitchen wants to get rid of fast before they have to dump it. Rather than go that route, most of the specials you’ll find in local craft beer spots are made with fresh, local, in-season ingredients picked especially by the chef for their freshness (and sometimes even, literally, picked by the chef in the case of Gastropod). Here are just a few of of my favorites, and some of the most outstanding exmaples of the amazing food you can find at some local craft beer establishments right here in Seattle:
Sister bar to Seattle’s popular Brouwer’s Cafe (whch also has great food), Burgundian is nestled in the Tangletown neighborhood, just a block away from Elysian Tangletown and Mighty-O Donuts. Their regular menu, including breakfast served all day, includes such choices as chicken and waffles, biscuit sandwiches, a lamb burger, poutine, fried chicken, and house-made sausage, but things really get incredible when they roll out the specials. How about ‘Pork Porterhouse With Bleu Cheese Cream Sauce And Fingerling Potatoes With Bacon And Apple Butter’? Or perhaps you’d prefer attending one of the few crawfish boils they hold each year, with crawfish flown in overnight from Lousiana? Whatever you choose from the menu at Burgundian, you won’t be disappointed. Also, don’t forget about their Seattle Beer Week brewer’s dinner with Sierra Nevada happening on Monday, May 13th. Tickets went on sale yesterday. Burgundian is open every day from 10:00 AM to midnight.
Gastropod at Epic Ales:
Founded in 2009, in a space not much bigger than a small kitchen, Epic Ales makes beers that often use unusual ingredients such as shiitake mushroom, ginger, chamomile, cardamom or white peppercorns. Their mission is to create unique beers that pair well with food and, about a month ago, they lauched Gastropod to fulfill that mission. The ever changing menu at Gastropod is also quite reasonable with delectable gourmet dishes ranging anywhere from just $3 up to $15. On the low end of the price scale, you’ll find dishes like ‘Nettle And Rabbit Liver Mousse Profiteroles With Honey And Marcona Almonds’ (made with nettles hand-picked by chef Travis Kukull). Spend a bit more and you can get one of their delicious Okonomiyaki dishes like one made with roasted Brussels sprouts, leeks and kimchi, topped with a wood sorrel salad with a sea urchin emulsion and a fried goose egg. Wow! And don’t forget, every Wednesday is their dollar oyster night. Gastropod at Epic Ales is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
The Pine Box:
The Pine Box celebrated their first anniversary just this past March. Located in the space once occupied by the Butterworth Funeral Home (the same funeral home were Bruce Lee’s funeral took place), they’ve already earned quite a reputation as a great place to go for not only great craft beer (as well as a full liquor bar) but also delicious food. The Pine Box proudly serves only “local, ethically sourced meats and vegetables” and they’re always adding something new and interesting to the menu. Does prawns over cheesy grits sound good? How about pancetta-wrapped scallops or a pulled pork and kimchi pizza with jalapeño peppers? They also have great salads and steaks. The Pine Box is open from 3:00 PM to 2:00 AM Monday through Friday and 11:00 Am to 2:00 AM on Saturdays and Sundays.
Schooner Exact Brewing:
Starting out in an ActivSpace unit under the West Seattle Bridge in 2006, Schooner Exact Brewing has come a long way. Now located on 1st Avenue South, just South of Spokane Street, Schooner Exact started offering food just last year, and they’ve been hitting it out of the park - especially with their specials like ‘Hawaiian Albacore Tuna Tartare’, ‘Seared Scallops With A Warmed King Oyster Mushroom Vinaigrette’ or a ‘Braised Pulled Goat Sandwich With Mediterranean Spices’. They also serve brunch every Saturday and Sunday from opening until 2:00 PM. Schooner Exact Brewing is open every day from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
The next time your palate is craving a delicious craft beer, don’t sell the rest of your taste buds short. Head out to Burgundian, Gastropod, The Pine Box, Schooner Exact, or one of the many other craft beer spots in Seattle that are doing some truly amazing work in the kitchen.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still love great, basic pub fare like burgers, nachos, wings, etc. And there is no shortage of craft beer spots in Seattle that are doing a great if not down right incredible job with standard pub fare (Cooper’s Alehouse on Lake City Way comes to mind). However, if you’re in the mood for something a bit more upscale or just a little different, it’s nice to know you have several options out there to satisfy your palate. So start exploring, and see what incredible food options you’ve been missing.
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.