Skylark Cafe & Club 3.5

•February 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Skylark Cafe & Club

We headed out to see a friend’s band play at West Seattle’s Skylark Cafe & Club.  Read on to learn more about one of West Seattle’s cooler haunts.

Beer     3.0

The selection at Skylark is mostly made up of selections from local breweries such as Mac and Jack’s, Ninkasi, Rogue, etc. coupled with a few local favorite macro brews for good measure.  If you don’t find what you want on draft you might find one of their bottled macro brew selections to better suit you.  That said, if you’re a big fan of craft brews you might be hard pressed to find something you’ll be really excited to drink here.

We started off with a pitcher of the Ninkasi Total Domination IPA – a typically flavored northwest style IPA.  Curious to try something a little off the beaten path I followed the IPA up with a glass of Ninkasi’s winter ale, Sleigh’r.  As a dark double alt it’s very German in nature and unique for a winter style ale.  This one warrants taste testing if you’ve not had it before.

Beer comes served in pints and pitchers.

Food     3.5

The Skylark has an impressive menu selection considering the size of the place.  I wish I could have tried a few more things.  I get the impression  I would have left feeling differently about the food here if I had gotten truly gluttonous.  Alas I did not and as such I left feeling like the food was mediocre.

I ordered the Mac N Cheese which by itself is basically a smallish casserole dish of penne pasta noodles swimming in a not so creamy mess of melted cheese.  Sure, it’s better than the stuff in a box that you get at the store.  But being that Mac N Cheese has really matured in recent years at so many other places I hoped that the same would be true here.  Unfortunately adding bacon and chicken to my Mac N Cheese did very little to add any excitement to the dish.

To avoid a complete gut bomb of a meal I also ordered a small dinner salad which was mostly pretty standard, except for their homemade rye croutons which were actually really good.

The other dish ordered that night was the French dip which was reportedly dry and not much to speak of.  It came with some regular ol’ fries.

Service     4

We had a very friendly and attentive service experience that night.  Our server was on top of our every need that night offering up smiles in abundance.  If it wasn’t as loud as it was that night (more on that later) I’m sure she would have had lots of friendly conversation for us as well.

Ambiance     3.5

Let me start off by saying if you are going to show up at the Skylark during a night when bands are playing be prepared for noise.  Lots and lots of noise.  This place is Loud (yeah, that’s with a capital ‘L’).  We even had to yell in between sets to hear each other.  Don’t get me wrong.  The live music is definitely a plus.  The stage, lighting and sound is all very well done for a venue of this caliber.  But you really ought to be in the mood for this kind of scene before you show.  Otherwise I suggest visiting on a night when no bands are scheduled to play.

The walls are lined with old Buick Skylark ads and pics, hubcaps and old license plates, which all comes together to create a sort of hybrid classy/classic service garage theme.

The venue is a little small, so plan on showing up early if you want to secure a seat on a night that bands are playing.  I would imagine that in the nights bands aren’t playing seating is a little easier to come by.  But don’t take my word for it.  Check it out for yourself.

Cost

So… I blew it.  I forgot to keep our receipt that night.  No itemized cost breakdown this time folks.  I’m sorry.  I can say that our total bill, which included two entrees, a salad, a pint and most of a pitcher with tax and tip came out to an even $50.  Not bad for dinner, drinks and entertainment for 2.

La Conner Brewing 3.5

•February 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I know, I know.  This is supposed to be a blog that reviews pubs in the greater Seattle area.  Obviously La Conner falls outside of that description.  But, being that my wife and I were recently up in “God’s Country” (aka, Burlington), a trip out to La Conner Brewing Co. was definitely in order.  And even though it means breaking with tradition just a little bit I thought I’d offer up a review of our pleasant experience that night.

La Conner BeersBeer     3.5

I was impressed with the genres this brewery offers.  There aren’t a large number of offerings (I believe there were 7 to choose from the night we visited), but La Conner Brewing Co. certainly covers a lot of ground with what they do offer.

I found each beer to be a relatively mild tasting take on each of their respective genres.  And though some avid beer fans may find that to be a bit off-putting I found most of them to be highly drinkable (meaning I could drink a lot of each beer at a relatively quick clip) because of their mild nature.  Whether that is a plus or minus I leave to you to decide.  I was pleasantly surprised that night though.

We started by ordering a beer sampler which included 5 of their beers each served in its own 4 oz mini-mugs.

Brown Ale – I found this to be a typically malty/smoky flavored take that fans of the genre are likely to enjoy.  Not on the top of my list though.

Imperial Stout (Seasonal) – I was really impressed to see this on the menu.  Imperial stouts don’t generally have as many fans as the other genres they brew here.  Being that I’m a fan of imperial stouts it was a very pleasant surprise to see this on the beer list of a relatively small brewery.  La Conner takes a relatively mild flavored approach, but still nails the most important aspects – sweet, coffee, caramel and chocolate notes run throughout.  A great winter beer.

Pilsner – German style in nature, this one starts out pretty clean and finishes with an expectedly strong hop flavor.

IPA – This is a good IPA and a welcome departure from the typical local northwest skunky hop flavored IPA options I typically come across.  Instead they’ve stuck to a much cleaner variety of hops.    Finishes with what I thought was a very subtle clove undertone.

Wheat – Another German style beer.  As is typical you get strong banana and clove notes throughout.  It’s served with a lemon.

ESB – My wife was a big fan of this one as would fans of that typical northwest skunky hop flavor.  It Starts off malty and gets skunky really quickly.  I wish I had better words to describe the taste, but as you can probably tell I’m not a fan of this flavor combination.  Many people appreciate this flavor though so I can’t hold it against La Conner for offering it.

Other than the sampler, beers are served in pints.

Food     4

For an out of the way small town brewery, La Conner Brewing Co. brings a pretty solid cooking game.  The food here is good.  Really good.

We started out with an order of the wood-fired coconut chipotle cream clams, and let me tell you…  these things are amazing.  This Thai inspired dish combines a pound of manila clams with cream, chipotle, garlic, coconut milk, cilantro, lime juice, and red onions.  Then the concoction is roasted in their wood-fire oven before being served up with a couple slices of focaccia bread.  It’s a fantastic take on traditional steamed clams.  Ask for extra slices of the bread ’cause you are gonna’ want to soak up all of the sauce after you finish the clams.

Next came a dinner salad that was simple, but right on.  Mixed greens, olives and blue cheese dressing.  Nothing out of the ordinary, but all good things just the same.

We finished things off by splitting their delicious wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, which is topped with pepperoni, sausage, tomato, basil and a house 4 cheese blend.  This thing was great.  The delicious smoky crust is topped with just the right amount of toppings so that none of their flavors are overbearing.  Each distinct flavor from the sauce and the perfectly spicy meats to the 4 cheese blend, baked tomatoes and basil came though fully and very balanced.  Very nice work.

Portions aren’t large, but we felt perfectly satisfied at the end of our meal despite sharing each of the 3 dishes.

Service     3

Our server appeared to be 1 of too few working that night.  I had the impression that they were understaffed that night, which ultimately resulted in a less than stand out service experience.  Charm was on short supply.  There was no small talk and smiles were rare.  She didn’t have much in the way of recommendations either, giving me the impression that I ought to just hurry up and pick something.  Fortunately our food and drinks arrived in a timely manner, which is the most I can ever really hope for anyway.

Ambiance     3.5

La Conner Brewing Co. is a small place, which isn’t surprising considering La Conner is a small town… and apparently quite sleepy as well.  We drove through the main thoroughfare at 6pm on Saturday night to find almost all other stores closed for the night.  Just about the only lights on in the town came from street lamps and those on inside La Conner Brewing Co.  But I digress.  The limited space inside the pub turned out to be plenty of space for their Saturday night rush.  You probably won’t have too much trouble getting a table here.

This is a family friendly place.  There were several family get-togethers with kids of all ages.  Several of them were playing pub supplied games.

Quirky, but fun calypso/island themed art covers a good portion of the wall space.  All of it for sale.  This art and the warmly lit, mellow, family friendly environment makes for a comfortable feel on an otherwise uncomfortable wet and cold winter night.

Cost

Pints are 4.25, and the Sampler, 8 bucks.  You’re allotted a total of 20 oz of beer with the sampler making the price a little on the high side considering a 16oz pint is about half as much.

The clams and the pizza were 12 bucks a piece and delicious.  Very worth the price.  And a 5 dollar salad will never raise either of my eyebrows.

Naked City Brewery and Taphouse 3.63

•January 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Photos by Nicholas Tucker http://www.nictuckerphoto.com/

We recently organized a trip out to Greenwood’s Naked City Brewery and Taphouse.  Craft brew fans rejoice!  These guys love their beer and sell only the finest.  And the food ain’t bad to boot!

Beer     4

Craft brew fans are gonna’ dig it here.  The menu is chock-full of both regular and Imperial IPAs and Stouts along with Belgians and other great selections from some of the country’s best breweries.  Green Flash, Avery, and Lagunitas along with locals like Elysian, Fremont Brewing, Deschutes, Rogue among many others all had beers occupying taps that night.  Get’s me all choked up just thinkin’ about it.

We happened to visit during the Belgianfest Cask preview, which gave me a chance to take one of two cask conditioned beers they had for a spin.  The Pike Barrel Aged Sour Tripel Kriek is a non carbonated very sour and cherry flavored libation that reminded me of a lambic that had lost its bubbles.  Lambics and sours really aren’t my thing so I can’t exactly give this one an unbiased review.  That said, here are my thoughts on the stuff.  I’d recommend the masses pass on this one.  I think most will find the combination of a flat beer and extreme sour flavor to be off putting and difficult to swallow.  This is a beer best left to the fans of the lambic and sour beer genres.

Needing to rinse that sour cherry taste out of my mouth I ordered a pint of Firestone Walker’s Union Jack IPA.  This is great beer.  As you would expect from any IPA this thing finishes with a significantly bitter and floral hop finish.  What makes this a better drinking IPA is the sweet malty start that really goes a long way to balance out the flavor throughout.  This is a great gateway IPA that is likely to cause otherwise non-IPA fans to experience a “come to Jesus” moment when they taste it.

Being that Naked City is not only a pub but a brewery I was anxious to try out one of the beers they brew on-site.  I opted for the Brother Orchid abbey style brown ale, which came served in a 12 oz glass (more on that later).  Think traditional smoky malty brown ale meets a banana-y/clove-y Belgian and you’d be pretty close to understanding the flavor of this one.  It’s a little heavier on the smoky flavor than I’d like.  But it’s a bold attempt at a unique flavor of beer that I’m sure others are very likely to find pleasing.

The only thing I really didn’t care for (other than the sour ale) is their insistence on serving beers with 8% ABV or higher beers, like their Brother Orchid brown ale in 12 oz glasses.  This isn’t the only place around town that does this though, so I can’t fault them too much for it.  But the option to drink your beer in a full pint is always appreciated.

Lastly, as with any good pub there are bottled selections to round out their excellent draught choices.

Food     3.5

The food here for the most part should leave you feeling satisfied.  I started out with their soft German style pretzel which came with a cheddar cheese and mustard dipping sauce.  It’s reminiscent of what you’d find at an amusement park and left me a little disappointed.  Fortunately I followed it up with their Reuben sandwich which hit the spot.  They don’t try to reinvent the wheel with this one which I appreciate.  They build just as you’d hope they would.  It came with a side mixed green salad which was a perfectly light addition to the sandwich.  I wanted to get a good cross section of their menu so I added a cup of soup to my order.  The soup of the day happened to be their delicious crab and corn chowder which had a good amount of meat and just a touch of heat.  Really good stuff.

There was a lot of other food ordered by the rest of my group that received mostly good reviews.  The buffalo chicken sandwich, herbed goat cheese and crackers, and both the veggie NY style meatball sub and BBQ field roast all earned positive marks.  Despite being ordered by several people at the table, the French dip didn’t win any accolades.  It might be best to avoid this one on your next visit to Naked City.

Service     3.5

Due to seating limitations and the size of our group we ended up sitting in two different areas of the pub for most of the night.  Part of us sat at 2 tables we pushed together while the others sat at the bar.  Those of us sitting at the tables received attentive service, with the whole experience being satisfactory.  Our server had a moderate knowledge of the beers on tap, but not as much as I would have liked.  Conversation was kept to a minimum which is understandable because she was busy.  I’d give our service experience a passing grade though.

The other folks sitting up at the bar were reportedly treated to a much different experience.  They happened to be served by one of the owners who was working behind the bar that night.  Apparently he was very friendly and full of conversation.  His knowledge of his liquid product ran deep too.  The folks served by him had nothing but positives to report.  Might I suggest heading to the bar on your next visit?  I know I will.

Ambiance     3.5

Most of the setup at Naked City is pretty standard for a pub of this caliber.  You’ve got your long wrap around bar.  A good grouping of taps.  As many tables as will fit in a long and narrow storefront.  Some sort of fairly upbeat music droning in the background.  And a wall covered in dozens of nudes.  You know… the usual.  Well… maybe the nudes are a (pubic?) hair unusual.  But with a name like “Naked City”, can you blame ’em?

There isn’t a lot to do here but drink and eat.  If you’re like me that’s the makings for the perfect night out.  But if you’ve got hopes of doing more I suggest you plan on starting out here before heading somewhere else to fill up your activity quota for the evening.

Seating is limited, especially considering how popular this place is.  We showed up at 6:30 on a Thursday evening and were only able to scrounge up 2 bar stools and a small table in another part of the pub.  Get here early if there are more than 2 of you in your group or plan on getting creative with your seating as we had to.

When you do visit make sure to head to the back of the joint to steal a view of the brewery that occupies the back half of the storefront.  It’s a small but impressive setup they have back there.  You can’t see a lot of it, but it will give you some idea of how serious these guys are about their beers.  Pretty cool touch.

Cost

In the “Just Right” Column you’ll find Pints generally priced at $5 each, and some pretty respectable sandwiches for $10 that come paired with salads or Tim’s Cascade Chips (Add a cup of soup for a buck).

In the “Too Cold” column we’ve got 12 oz beers priced at $4.50.  While there are undoubtedly some beers in this world well worth the price of admission at this portion size, I argue that most on this list should cost less than $4.50.

Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 which knocks a dollar off of beers.  Hmm…  Suddenly a 12 ounce pour @ $3.50 isn’t sounding so bad…

* For more pictures of the night’s offerings please visit Nicholas Tucker Photography

Pump House 3.25

•January 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Photo by Nicholas Tucker http://www.nictuckerphoto.com/

If you’ve spent any time in Bellevue over the past few years you’ve seen lots of change taking place in a city that once relied on a single screen movie theater and shopping mall for its entertainment offerings.  New high rises are in abundance, and with them have come lots of apartments, condos, corporations, jobs, retail stores, and restaurants.  Despite a difficult economy Bellevue is expanding and generally I’d say it’s mostly a good thing for the city.  Yet for all the positive change it’s experiencing the city has had trouble attracting any sort of interesting or diverse night life.  A night out in Bellevue consists of a glut of generic chain restaurants serving up an expensive happy hour devoid of good beer just before you blow a week’s pay at the local glitzy bowling alley.  Sure there’s pool and an IMAX screen if you’re feelin’ crazy on a Wednesday night, but this isn’t the town you want hang in for an inexpensive and fun night of good food and even better beers. Or is it?

Bellevue’s Pumphouse Bar & Grill lies fortunately tucked away on the outskirts of the downtown area.  Curious to know if the Bellevue culinary monotony could be broken up by the theoretically more interesting Pumphouse, I had to check out what is arguably this city’s best spot to order a beer.

Beer     3.0

The Pumphouse is a sports bar.  And like any sports bar should they pour lots of our country’s best selling macro brews here.  Fortunately for the rest of us with evolved taste buds they also offer up a very respectable selection of beers from local breweries.  Elysian, Redhook, Snoqualmie Brewery, Mac & Jack’s, Iron Horse, Widmer, Lazy Boy, and Hales Ales all stock the Pumphouse with some of their best known selections making sure that Eastsiders aren’t forced to head to Seattle to enjoy a decent beer.  And while I wasn’t incredibly impressed with these offerings, it’s still a remarkable lineup by Bellevue’s standards.  Way to support the local economy guys!

Beers come in 2 sizes.  16 oz mugs and big ol’ badass 34 oz Super Steins.  None of the downtown Bellevue joints can compete on size here.

Food     3.0

This is pretty standard pub fare.  They’ve got your typical burgers, various dips and hot sandwiches, fish and chips, wings, jalapeno poppers, yada-yada-yada.

I ordered up the bacon cheese burger with blue cheese crumbles (it comes with mediocre fries) which I decided tasted pretty good.  Unfortunately it’s a pretty messy affair which caused the low buck bun to become really soggy about half way through eating it.  Being that this was a good burger before the mushiness set in I’d say it’s about a decent bun away from actually becoming a destination burger joint for me.  As it is you better eat fast ’cause the whole thing turns from appetizing to considerably less so toward the end.  I added a side salad that was made of romaine lettuce (thumbs up!) and a decent homemade Italian dressing.  It wasn’t mind blowing, but at $3.25 it’s a pretty good deal and adds something green and healthy to the meal.

My buddy ordered the chicken fried steak sandwich (chicken fried steak, gravy, lettuce, tomato and onion on a bun) and a cup of the homemade chili.  He didn’t say a lot while he was eating it other than to say it was good.  I’m inclined to agree.  Deep fried breaded steak and gravy in a burger sounds pretty great to me.

Service     4.0

We had really good service that night.  Not only was our server very good about timing – quick to take and drop off food and drink orders, but she also let my buddy try a sample of their homemade chili before he decided to actually order a cup of the stuff.  It was a really nice touch.  Adding to the whole thing was lots of smiles and friendly banter.  I felt like a welcomed guest here.

Ambiance     3.0

The Pump House is mostly a sports bar.  Local sports teams’ paraphernalia hang all over the walls inside, cornered by several TVs showing different sports shows and games.  Clearly interior design awards aren’t what this place is after.  Although if someday late 70’s decor comes back into style then the original tables, chairs and booths this place is stocked with might actually get them some attention.  That said The Pumphouse has clearly stuck to something more basic and pure than their downtown uninspired chain restaurant counterparts.

There is a bit of spring and summer outdoor seating which is always nice to see.  There isn’t much of it though so it’s best to get there early if you want a chance at snagging some.

The only real glaring strike against this place is the music.  It’s pretty bad.  The high school pop/dance hits muzak they were bumpin’ really threw me seeing as the customer base consisted almost solely of men in their 30s and 40s.  I don’t generally associate Lady GaGa and her kind with the sounds that middle aged men want to watch football to.  Maybe I’ve missed something though.

Cost

Pints are $4.75.  Works for me.  For you more value minded drinkers looking to squeeze out every last ounce of liquid gold for your buck, reach for a Super Stein.  They are about 9 bucks a pop, and at 34 oz they give you a few extra ounces of beer for less than ordering 2 mugs.

The burger with blue cheese ended up costing 10 bucks which if it weren’t for the bun and the mediocre fries I would say is priced where it should be.  As it is it’s a little on the expensive side.  A better bun and some homemade fries would make this one heck of a burger destination.  The salad was 3.25 and right on point.

King’s Hardware 3.5

•January 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

My sister was up visiting from SoCal recently and was feelin’ the urge to get down Ballard style.  We set out for King’s Hardware on a Friday night to see what kind of a ruckus we could start.

Beer     3.0

I wasn’t very impressed with the beer selection at King’s.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the beer is probably not the main reason you would come here.  This place is jumpin’ on the weekends.  They could serve nothing but cans of PBR and still pack the joint.  Funny enough it actually almost looks like that’s all they do sell as every other person that night was sporting PBR tall boys… priced at right around 2 bucks a pop!  Not bad if all you’re lookin’ to do is get your buzz on with some friends for cheap.

The draught selection consisted mostly of mediocre micro brews.  In particular I took note of German style selections from Bayern Brewing, and New Belgium Brewing’s winter ale, 2 Below.  Hales Ales was represented as well among a few local breweries.  You’ll find something to drink here for sure.  It just won’t be all that memorable.

King’s offers up a somewhat remarkable selection of canned beers if that’s your thing.  I wouldn’t personally drink any of them, but it’s a fun idea.  One in fact that looked to be pretty popular among the patrons.

Lastly, expect all draughts to be poured into pint glasses.  No skimping there.

Food     3.5

The menu at King’s is pretty limited, consisting mainly of burgers and your standard nachos, wings, etc.  Fortunately they do burgers pretty well here, offering up a varied and tasty selection.  Adding to the experience is their delicious homemade fries.  Of course you can’t go wrong with the sweet potato fries either.

You’ll find everything from the usual bacon cheeseburger to the After School Special, a peanut butter topped bacon burger that is reportedly very good.  For the adventurous there are plenty of other unique burgers on the menu featuring toppings such as guacamole, various peppers, goat cheese, egg, pineapple, and much more.  All patties are made of Oregon raised beef and are 100% organic.  Very cool.  Of course the gastronomically insane can substitute beef for a garden burger.

Inquiring minds might like to know that I went with the B & B burger (that’s bacon and blue cheese), and found it to be very flavorful if not a little dry.  And for all you salad fans out there they make a pretty solid homemade blue cheese dressing.  I recommend taking it for spin.

Service     4.0

We sat right next to the bar and the POS system that night.  Our server was constantly passing by our table making it so he couldn’t help but keep his eye on us all night.  As a result we received great service.  It was attentive, fast and friendly all night long.

We were out to party and wanted to get things started right by pounding a few Irish car bombs.  Feeling inspired by “Three Sheets” Seoul Korea episode, I was hoping to tightly line up a row of beers while balancing a row of shots on top of them where the beer glasses touched.  A domino effect would follow, knocking the first shot glass into the next before all shots fall into their respective glasses of beer.  Grab one and pound!  Even WSU kids would have been impressed.  Despite our excitement we had to kill the idea.  King’s don’t play that.  They say it’s a safety hazard, and that there is a good chance of breaking beer glasses with heavy shot glasses.  Instead they will hand you a rocks glass with a shot of booze in it and ask that you pour it into the beer.  Lame!  The news hit us pretty hard, nearly killing the buzz.  In exchange for this blow to our morale our server made us a few specialty shots – thin mints, and later in the evening followed things up with a round of beers on the house.  Well played.

Ambiance     3.5

King’s mildly grimy feel adds to the rustic ambiance of the place somehow.  Exposed brick is everywhere along with all sorts of quirky old wall dressings just to keep things interesting.  One of the cooler of these is a large frame consisting of many smaller boxes containing dozens of lesser known canned beers.  Low class?  Maybe.  But it’s an impressive collection and a great conversation piece.  College nostalgia at its best.

There is tons of covered and heated outside seating which is pretty great since it gives Seattleites a chance to enjoy the outdoors during our 8 month long winter.  There is a trade off though as the bar that serves that area is outside as well.  “How could that be a trade off?  Sounds like a plus to me.”  I’d be inclined to agree with you, but unfortunately lines from the keg to the taps outside are long and harder to keep up.  I’ve had an employee admit to me in the past that the beer lines heading outside are tougher to maintain and that if a tap hasn’t been used in awhile things can get skunky.  I verified this the hard way over the summer.  It was unpleasant to say the least.  Please, order your beers from inside.

For activity seekers they keep a couple skeeball machines and arcade games around.  Big points for originality!

The music was pretty great that night, playing a mix of rock that spanned hits from Ziggy Star Dust to The Strokes.  If I didn’t know better I’d say they were playing music from my own iPod.

Cost

Nothing out of the ordinary to report here.  Things are priced pretty much as they should be.  4 dollar pints is always welcome.  Dinner salads are 4 bucks as well which is a small price to pay for a little somethin’ healthy.  My burger with bacon, blue cheese and their delicious fries was $9.50 – right on.  The thin mints were $6, which is a pretty much the going rate for specialty shots.  I’d say it could stand to be a little cheaper, but now I’m just getting nitpicky.

74th Street Ale House 3.5

•January 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

My wife and I were out for a Sunday drive, cruising through some of our favorite Seattle neighborhoods when we drove past a jumpin’ 74th Street Ale House.  It was lunch time so we decided to see what all the fuss was about.

Beer     3.5

74th street Ale House has done an outstanding job of providing a solid cross section of northwest breweries.  Maritime, Leavenworth Biers, Ninkasi, Diamond Knot, Boundary Bay, Elysian, Georgetown Beer, Bayern Brewery and Sierra Nevada are all present, the last two hailing from Missoula Montana and Chico California respectively.

I decided to go with a pint of the  Bayern Brewery’s German style Pilsner, hoping to recreate the happy tummy feelings I’d had a few nights prior at Feierabend drinking the same style of brew.  To my disappointment their showing didn’t stand up to the real German selections found at Feierabend.  It wasn’t a bad beer.  It just lacked the breadth of crisp and hoppy flavors showcased a few nights prior.  Something about this beer was muddled.

Expect Imperial Pints here!  What’s an imperial pint, you ask?  A relic from the British Empire, the imperial measuring system was used across all nations belonging to the Empire years ago until it was replaced by the metric system.  Fortunately for us some of the cooler pubs (generally English or Irish style Public Houses or “Pubs”) out there have chosen to continue to serve beers in imperial pints measuring in at roughly 20 oz vs. a U.S. pint’s 16 oz.  More beer is good (insert cheesy grin here)!  Being that the 74th Street Ale House fashions itself after an English style public house you’ll reap the benefits of the imperial measuring system here.

Food     3.5

We weren’t starving so we decided to share a sandwich and some soup.  First to arrive was a cup of their homemade chicken noodle soup.  Made from scratch with hearty chunks of chicken, carrots, and celery swimming with perfectly cooked noodles in a thick and somewhat spicy broth.  This is a good soup.  Unfortunately the portion was small especially considering its 5 dollar price point.  More on that later.

The Chicken Breast Sandwich seemed like the logical choice to pair with the soup as it was supposedly voted the best chicken sandwich in Seattle by Seattle Weekly.  The chicken breast was lightly breaded and cooked in a garlic oil.  It was then topped with cheese and baked before being sandwiched between some toasted rye bread.  The sandwich was definitely solid.  Best in Seattle?  That’s a little bit of a stretch.  But it was definitely good.  Again I was disappointed though given the portion to cost ratio.  Now, there wasn’t anything outstanding about the size of this sandwich, nor did it revolutionize the sandwich world.  Why would I expect either of those two things to be the case?  Because this sandwich was 12 dollars!

Be warned:  You won’t be getting gut bursting portions here despite the Claim Jumper pricing.

Service     3.5

The service was fine.  Nothing out of the ordinary to speak of here.  Our orders were taken quickly despite a significant lunch rush.  And again, despite the rush our drinks were delivered quickly followed post haste by our cup of soup and sandwich.  It seems the 74th Street Ale House is somewhat of a well oiled machine.

The only sorta’ bummer was that I was never made to feel like I was hangin’ at my friendly neighborhood pub – there weren’t really any smiles or friendly banter.  Can’t hold it against them as everything else went down as I would hope it would.  But I’ve certainly been in friendlier environments.  The 3.5 was earned due to the quick work by the kitchen and the bar tender.

Ambiance     3.5

Not being at the pub on a busy weekend night, I’m not sure what you should expect if you pop in for an evening visit.  I can report on a “sleepy” Sunday however.  Surprisingly things were pretty busy.  Nearly all of the seats were, which was unexpected.  Stools line the large windows looking out at Greenwood Ave.  People watching seems to be a popular past time at 74th Street Ale House as these stools were all occupied despite several tables still being open.

Football was quietly playing on TV with most patrons gazes elsewhere.  Actually most people were engaged in quiet conversation, creating a rather quiet drone that allowed us to hear the music (which was turned way down) very well.  This Sunday crowd made it feel more like we were sitting in a Starbucks than at a pub – this bunch was here to relax over lunch and a beer or 2.  That’s not a bad thing though.  In fact generally speaking I much prefer a relaxed Sunday to a rowdy one as I mentally prepare myself for the coming work week.

Otherwise think about most of the English/Irish pubs you’ve visited in the past and you have a pretty accurate mental picture of the 74th Street Ale House.  Expect a little higher level of maturity than most of the others and you’d be dead on.

Cost

Let’s start out with the beer – an imperial pint of beer for 5 bucks is a solid deal.  I’ve got to hand it to them there.  That price point is right where I like to see it for a full 20 oz beer.

Unfortunately the ‘win’ in the beer cost column was more than offset by the ‘loss’ in the food cost column.  We shared 1 chicken sandwich and 1 small cup of soup.  Both items added up to a pre-tax total of 17 bucks!  Ouch.  Throw tax and tip on top of that and without anything to drink you’re walking out of the door at over $20 bucks.  That’s an unreasonable price point for a lunch of this size and quality.

Feierabend 3.75

•January 8, 2010 • Comments Off on Feierabend 3.75

I had just finished watching the episode of TV’s ‘3 Sheets’ where Zane Lamprey and crew head to Munich for Oktoberfest.  1 liter steins, giant pretzels, Das Boot and drunken madness blew up all over my TV screen.

Feeling inspired by Mr. Lamprey I was compelled to head over to Feierabend in the South Lake Union neighborhood to see how Feierabend, Seattle’s version of a German pub was representin’.

Beer     3.5

German style pilsners, bocks and weissbiers make up the lion’s share of what you’re going to find on this draught menu.  A bigger beer snob than myself might stick their nose up high in the air as they continue to another pub in search of more bitter and floral liquid salvation.  But not this reviewer.  I had my mind expanded that night as I sipped on (or rather gulped down) hoppy German pilsners and malty dunkel weiss’.  It’s a brave new world.  No longer must I consume only the most exotic of IPAs or Belgian brews before finding peace of mind.  A good pilsner or weissbier goes down as easily and satisfyingly as anything I’ve previously put to my lips.  And thank goodness for that ’cause the alcohol content on these beers comes in quite a bit lower and is far less likely to cause a skull cracking hangover the following morning.

Beers generally come in .3L, .5L, 1.0L, (converting to 10oz, 17oz, and 34oz respectively) and are priced from roughly $4 – $10 depending on the type and size of beer you order.  Those looking for a challenge are encouraged to try the venerable 2.0L Das Boot – a giant glass boot filled with beer and shared by everyone at the table.  Don’t forget to tilt the toe of the boot to the side lest you become drenched in beer.

Food     3.5

Now, I’ve never been to Germany, so I won’t pretend to know if Feierabend’s menu is authentic.  But if it isn’t they sure had me fooled.  This menu is unique.  Most of the dishes I couldn’t pronounce without a little verbal guidance from our server.  I can say “Wiener Schnitzel” and “Brautwurst”.  That’s about it.

While the Wiener Schnitzel (a breaded and fried pork chop) was highly recommended by our server I had to cut her short during her briefing on the dish when I read that they had ham hock on the menu.  I love pork.  And when you slow cook it in a brown sugar and honey mustard glaze it would be a sin to say no to it.  But fiscally it’s no slouch at $16/plate.  So I recommend you Split it as my wife and I did.  This is one mammoth dish so you won’t be missing out on anything by doing so.  Not only is there somewhere near 1 pound of meat falling off the bone, but the dish is accompanied by a mound of potato salad and a sweet red sauerkraut that tastes a lot better than it looks.

We started our dinner off with a dinner salad that was largely forgettable, but probably the only healthy thing we ate all night.  By no means is it required eating… unless my Mom is reading this… then of course it’s required eating!

Service     4.5

We had exceptionally friendly service at Feierabend.  It was a very slow night so our server and bar tender did a terrific job of making sure they took care of us.  Orders were taken promptly following our arrival.  Shortly thereafter our beers were dropped off, followed in turn by our salad and then the ham hock.  Our beer glasses never emptied before being served a fresh half liter.  The timing was perfect.  I’m curious to go back when things are a little busier to test out their consistency, although I have no reason to believe we will experience anything different.

Ambiance     3.5

Feierabend is a relatively new pub, first opened less than 10 years ago.  As such it feels new.  But not in a generic chain restaurant sort of way. It’s pretty classy as far as pubs go and they’ve done a good job of keeping to a classic Seattle pub feel.  Regular pub goers will feel right at home here.

Some of the tables here are big, and are meant for large groups (obviously).  The folks at Feierabend recognize that these tables are too big to be occupied by 1 large group most of the time.  So they’ve wisely stamped these tables with brass plates which encourage small groups and strangers to share the table with one another.  The placard asks that strangers strike up friendly conversation with one another, hopefully making new friends in, which they claim is typical German pub behavior.  I can’t speak to the statement on German cultural behavior, but I will say that this is a novel approach at creating a friendly drinking atmosphere.  Nice touch.

Cost

We were at Feierabend for about 4 hours, during which time we racked up a sizeable bill.  Just shy of 60 bones actually.  Considering that price included service with many smiles, 6 x .5L beers, a dinner salad and THE MAMMOTH HOCK, I left feeling like the price was right on.  They’ve done a good job of building a food and beverage menu that’s priced right where is should be.