According to Norse myth, the universe began with the mingling of fire and ice and will end with the lame twist that it was all a dream… or was it? Enjoy the time in between with today's traditionally Nordic Groupon: for $10, you get $20 worth of Scandinavian cooking and cocktails at Copper Gate in Uptown Ballard. When clicking on the website, as when hosting a dinner party in a YMCA locker room, be prepared to see some tasteful nudity.
In homage to Ballard's Norse heritage, Copper Gate serves a collection of Scandinavian small plates and aquavit cocktails. Modern-day Midgardians can feast on plates of Swedish meatballs with lingonberry preserves ($8) and short ribs braised in aquavit and coffee ($9) before sharing orders of cured salmon seasoned with pumpernickel and dill mustard ($9) and pickled herring and beets ($8) with their pillaging pals. Orders of french fries with curried ketchup ($6) or fish cakes ($8) pack enough flavor to becalm even the most raging berserkers and distract them from life's ongoing Grendel attacks. Members of the clean plate club can reward themselves with a dessert of Glögg-poached pear served with vanilla ice cream and a mulled wine reduction ($6).
Copper Gate's bartenders pour shots of aquavit ($6) behind a bar shaped like a traditional Viking knarr sailing through the bright dining room. Grab a bar stool and quaff signature cocktails ($7) such as the sweet, tart Einarbaer made with gin and sweet vermouth, or the Stor Agurk, which melds Aalborg amber aquavit, lemon, sugar, and cucumber. Copper Gate's selection of Nordic beer, wine, and cider will have even the meekest accountant talking in a heavy metal growl after a few bottles of Finnish Sinebrychoff Baltic-style porter ($9), a liter of Austrian gruner veltliner ($28), or a Tyttebar, a blend of Swedish lingonberry soda and sparkling wine ($8). Stop by Copper Gate with today's Groupon, and enjoy all the feasting and carousing of Valhalla without having to talk your way past its snooty, hammer-wielding bouncer.
The Seattle press can't get enough of Copper Gate's Scandinavian cuisine and atmosphere. The Seattle Times, The Stranger, Seattle Weekly, and Daily Candy featured the restaurant. Eighty-two percent of nearly 130 Urbanspooners recommend the restaurant, and Yelpers give it an average of 3.5 stars.
- With a freezer full of aquavit, Scandahoovian cocktails and a Norwegian cook named Per Amundsen plating up Swedish meatballs, mounds of fries and other nibbles from a small-plates menu ($6-$9), Copper Gate takes the New Ballard hipster trend in an old direction. If you're looking for aquavit-steamed mussels and glogg-poached pears, look no further. – Nancy Leson, The Seattle Times
- The menu contains an excellent selection, ranging from authentic Scandinavian dishes such as pickled herring and gravlax to plates that sound Scandinavian but probably aren't, like aquavit-coffee-braised short ribs. Swedish meatballs with lingonberry preserves are matched with a delicate puree of potatoes and celeriac, fish cakes are light yet rich with their creamy tarragon aioli, and pancakes stuffed with berry-flavored whipped cream turn breakfast into dessert. – Seattle Weekly
Past the frame of Copper Gate’s 66-year-old front door and behind its Viking-ship-shaped bar, a mixologist is busy flavoring glasses of aquavit. Overhead, scantily clad ladies survey the scene, frozen in salacious poses snapped decades ago. Nordic and pinup cultures co-exist in equal measure at Copper Gate, where servers deliver meatballs and pickled herring amid boudoir paintings and trinkets from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. A menu of innovative cocktails confounds the tongue only as far as pronunciation goes. Once the cucumber, aquavit, and lemon of a Stor Agurk hit taste receptors, everyday worries dissolve away like a slug on a horse’s salt lick.
Copper Gate first opened in 1946, and its current owners are marking this year’s 66th anniversary with a month-long celebration throughout October. Most live shows are free during the anniversary month, including no-cover jazz events and a birthday tribute to legendary jazz pianist and amateur fire-eater Thelonious Monk. Other events include monthly comedy and open mic nights, as well as service industry night every Monday.