Years spent living in England made their mark on Columbia City Ale House founder Jeff Eagan. The country's particular style of local pubs fascinated him, and when he returned to Seattle in 1991, he recruited chef Jeff Reich to help him re-create that atmosphere by founding the 74th Street Ale House, the first of their triad of Seattle ale houses. The pubs dedicated their taps to local craft beers in a decade where the streets mostly flowed with basic American brews, and caught attention for their beer selection and for a fierce dedication to fresh-prepared pub fare classified as "herbaceous and hot" by the Seattle Times. Eclectic menus regularly updated by chef and Seattle culinary veteran Kathy Christopher boast gumbo with made-from-scratch stock and a breaded-chicken sandwich with garlic oil that claims a Best Chicken Sandwich distinction from Seattle Weekly.
Columbia City Ale House is the latest in their expanding endeavors, and shares with its siblings a dedication to craft brews and an upscale approach to pub fare. English and local beers flow from the 21 taps, half of which change regularly and include favorites such as Fullers' Extra Special Bitters and perennial winners from Fremont and Boundary Bay. On the menu, a grilled Reuben sandwich boasts corned beef braised in Blackthorn hard cider, and flat iron steak rubbed in ancho-chili powder and pepper stars in a southwest steak sandwich. A regular specials menu encourages culinary and libationary adventure with a recommended beer or wine pairing listed next to each dish.
Inside the ale house, light shines through geometric stained-glass windows, bought from a demolished Greek Orthodox church. Squares of the same stained glass decorate the small upper level, and arches centered on a cross stand at the top of the bar. The space reflects the English pub feel with sturdy woods, a mirror emblazoned with an Old Bailey beer logo, and servers who impersonate the Queen Mother between shifts.