At Ship Canal Grill, chefs give a nod to local cuisine with a menu largely composed of seafood from the Pacific Northwest. Though plates such as the salmon pesto and honey-walnut prawns dominate a good chunk of the menu, according to Thrillist(http://gr.pn/MKhCeh), turf-based dishes such as the Overboard lamb sliders with caramelized onions and aioli “pack a punch." The eclectic fare also encompasses petite pizzettas and Mediterranean dishes, which pair neatly with the creative cocktails or wines from a huge drink menu. But the eatery's decor inspires just as much intrigue as the edibles.
Bare light bulbs and rotund pipes hang overhead in homage to an industrial design, complemented by 20th-century construction-era photos from the Museum of History and Industry. An open loft looks out over the main dining area, aglow with candlelight and ringed with tan and periwinkle. At the lower-level bar, a bridge of wrought iron holds miniature vehicles over a marble countertop as light seeps in from tall windows.
In the loft, flat-screen TVs and one large projection screen broadcast games, and the billiards room hosts good-natured competition, as patrons unwind over a game of pool, darts, or dodge-darts. A steady string of events keeps other customers entertained: trivia on Tuesday, standup comedy on Wednesday, and live bands on Friday.
While guests ogle the boats and kayaks passing by outside, Chef Manual Frias stays in the kitchen, cooking up inventive takes on American comfort food. He seasons New York strips with house-blended rubs, smothers meatloaf in bourbon mustard glazes, and stirs bacon, pulled pork, and prosciutto into his aptly named three pig mac and cheese.
To complement each hearty dish, the tenders of Eastlake's tiki bar pour local microbrews and whip up tasty cocktails like the John Daly, a blend of lemonade and wild tea-flavored vodka. Though the deck and patio are seasonal, the dining room, complete with its own bar, is open all year. Here, rounds of trivia test knowledge every week, while flat-screens TV show the day's biggest sports games or rowdiest congressional boxing matches.
When Blue Moon Tavern opened in 1934, it was still illegal to sell alcohol within a mile of the University of Washington campus due to local temperance laws. Luckily, Blue Moon set up shop at the 1 mile mark, and thirsty students were more than happy to make the trek. It also attracted its share of intellectual heavyweights, including poets Allen Ginsberg and Dylan Thomas. When he beatnik hangout started to decline in the 1970s, diehard fans rallied to save it, paving the way for it to receive official landmark status in 1990. The no-frills bar continues to draw students and suits alike with cash-only beer and peanuts—the shells of which blanket the floor.
The soundtrack at Blue Moon Tavern changes depending on the day. From Thursday through Monday, it’s live music, with a jazz jam kicking things off every Thursday afternoon. Wednesday brings open-mic night, and on select Mondays, bar-goers may be treated to Opera on Tap, where chamber-music singers belt out classical hits without breaking a single glass.
“Dive bar” is probably the best way to describe Blue Moon Tavern. The aging posters on the wall have been there for decades, and the initials of drunken vandals remain scratched into the wooden booths. Though this tavern isn’t a spot for fancy craft cocktails, its the perfect place for shooting the breeze with friendly a bartender, or taking part in a wacky tradition, such as the semi-blasphemous annual Christmas pageant.
Bilbao Spanish Restaurant & Tapas Bar plates traditional Spanish flair through mouthwatering small-plate tapas and entrees. Like recipes and state secrets, tapas are designed to be shared among friends. Mollify midday munchies with succulent selections from the lunch menu, featuring tapas such as the crispy red potatoes of patatas bravas ($5.25) and a tender pork-loin sandwich schmeared with cabrales cream cheese ($7.50). The extensively enchanting dinner menu includes a huge tapas array, from a slow-braised oxtail ($10.75) to a sautéed portobello mushroom crowned with warm gorgonzola cream sauce ($12.50). Up the olfactory ante by inhaling the golden glow of the paella valenciana's saffron rice, chicken, and assorted seafood ($25.50 per person). Spanish reds, whites, sparklies, and iambic odes to Iberian grapes bedeck the wine and beer menu.
The Dinner Detective eschews campy costumes and plots for an exciting evening of food-accompanied mystery and paranoia, where actors hide among the diners, playing innocent and making everyone a potential suspect. To solve the crime, guests freely interrogate one another, chivvying out clues about the murderer and determining who has a bloodthirsty look in their eyes. Between dramatic deaths and simulated police involvement, guests dig into three-course meals, washed down with bottomless iced tea, coffee, and drinks from the cash bar. The diner who comes closest to solving the mystery through their snooping goes home with a prize basket to show off to their friends or split with the murderer as per their shadowy conspiracy. Prop guns and gunshot sound effects may be used during the performance.
A Standout in Seattle's Japanese Dining Scene
Amid Seattle's sea of Japanese restaurants, Miyabi 45th stands out. That's because, rather than specialize in sushi, Miyabi 45th's menu spotlights one of Japan's most overlooked staple foods: the soba noodle.
There are multiple ways to enjoy these buckwheat-based noodles, which chefs make in-house from Washington-grown grains: they can be served cool, with a side of dipping sauce, or piping-hot in savory broth. Chefs also concoct a variety of creative dishes to pair them with; think foie gras "tofu," miso-marinated brie, and Japanese whiskey-glazed chicken wings. Sommelier-chosen sakes and craft cocktails further enhance the dining experience.
Elevating Soba to New Heights
Chef Mutsuko Soma, the Japanese-born chef behind Miyabi 45th, studied a wide variety of cuisines at the Art Institute of Seattle’s culinary program. But no matter how many new flavors she tried, she remained captivated with simple soba.
After stints at such lauded restaurants such as Harvest Vine and Chez Shea, she returned to Japan to learn the art of soba-noodle preparation, mastering traditional hand-forming and cutting techniques. Now that she's back in Seattle, area diners can enjoy the fruits of her studies at Miyabi 45th, where she and her chefs elevate this traditional dish with modern add-ons such as sous-vide egg and oysters.