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Belltown Messenger #83 - September 2010

Belltown Restaurants

Belltown Cocktail News

The Triumphant Return of Hot Mango Love
We know you've been waiting for this piece of good news: Suite 410 is back in business. The cocktail lounge closed earlier this year but has been brought back from the dead by the owners of Oliver's (in the Mayflower Hotel, across the street). Two cocktails on happy hour special ($6 instead of $9 between 4 and 7 PM),
the iconic Hot Mango Love, with Finlandia vodka, Fee's peach bitters and a muddled jalapeno. There's another one we like even better, a grapefruit cosmopolitan shaken up with Finlandia, Grand Marnier, lime, white cran and a twist of grapefruit. Bartender is Craig deBolt.

Suite 410, 410 Stewart St.,
Seattle 206-682-4101

The Tiki Torch Burns Bright
Belltown barman James MacWilliams, who used to dazzle late-night diners at Wann Izakaya, has moved to a far, far better bar atop Queen Anne: Canlis. And as Seattle's most venerated shrine of elegant dining celebrates its 60th anniversary, it fell to MacWilliams to research and resurrect the cocktail scene of the 1950s. Tiki drinks were particularly exotic; founder Peter Canlis was friends with "Trader Vic" Bergeron as well as the legendary Hawaiian mixologist known as Don the Beachcomber, so it was natural that the restaurant, in its earliest years, served them. They eventually faded from view (as did the kimono-clad waitresses) only to be revived now, modified slightly to suit current tastes for drinks that are less sweet. No extra charge for the fireworks, or the fancy garnishes. And remember: at Canlis, you cannot be overdressed.

Canlis, 2576 Aurora Ave N., 206.283.3313.

Seatown Snack Bar Sneaks into Town
It's perhaps the most visible corner in Seattle, at the north end of the Market where Pike Place meets Virginia, and for years it was nothing more than a furniture outlet. Before the condo building, though, it had a noble history:

Bavarian Meats was in that space; if memory serves, so was Haagen Dasz, so was Starbucks. Now it's being given a new lease (heh-heh) on life as Seatown Snack Bar, the latest spawn of the expanding Tom Douglas empire.

With nary a flourish or drum roll, Seatown opened this week with a menu of sandwiches ($12 to $15), smoked seafood on buckwheat blini ($9 or $10), "Seatown Platters" (ribs, chicken, veggies, $18), and an assortment of crab concoctions, all designed to please locals looking for a sidewalk spot where they can plop down and watch the wandering tourists. If there's no room outside, you can make do just as well with lunch-counter seating indoors, or a cluster of high tables. There's also a takeout next door, if you're in
a hurry to get home.

The kitchen's still in the throes of figuring things out, but I have high hopes for the "Wild Thing" plate of Dungeness crab, avocado and tobiko ($15), once they reconcile the name with the timid execution.

The best cocktail is called Prosser Pump, a libation of locally sourced ingredients (Dry Fly vodka from Spokane and Tuscan melon from Douglas's own farm in Prosser) with a rim of exotic aleppo pepper.

The menu credits Heath Ceramics of Sausalito, Calif., for the tableware. Can we see what's coming next? A salute to the Auto-Chlor tech who services the dishwasher?
If anyone in town can bring this off, it's Tom Douglas. Here's hoping he doesn't dumb Seatown down for the tourists; the rest of us want to eat here, too!

Seatown Snack Bar, 2010 Western Ave., Seattle, 206-436-0390

The Cheeseman Cometh

Kurt Dammeier, founder of Beecher's Cheese, played host last month to the annual convention of the American Cheese Society, a big deal for Seattle and its rapidly growing community of artisanal cheese makers. Much hoopla surrounded the awarding of prizes to the top cheese in 30 assorted categories. The bigger story is that Beecher's will be opening a shop in Lower Manhattan (on Broadway at 20th, just two blocks from the famous Greenmarket). Beecher's is making a unique product called Flatiron for the shop. It's a crottin-style cheese, with a slightly orange rind produced by a particularly stinky fungus. We predict Noo Yawkers will go ga-ga for it.

Flipping through Belltown
The signs still say there's a new Wasabi Bistro coming, but little evidence of any activity inside. ... As promised, Belltown Pub has reopened, with many flatscreen TVs and easy-on-the-wallet pubgrub. Enjoyed the fried mac-&-cheese balls with marinara sauce. ... Billy Beach, late of Belltown's Kushibar, reappears at First & Union as chef at Japonessa. Lanie Victor, whom we last saw at the shuttered Shallots, is on the staff as well. Delicious polpe carpaccio (that's octopus sashimi, in Italian bar-speak). Yuriko Say, formerly of Redfin, is GM. ... Remember the tango dancers at Buenos Aires Grill? The male half of the team, Patricio Touceda, is the artistic director at the new Club SUR in SoDo. His wife, Eva Lucero, is at home with their baby daughter.

–Ronald Holden

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