It all started out innocently enough. A quick drink at Liberty, the new couch filled lounge and sushi restaurant up on the 15th area of Capital Hill, was just a preamble to a simple dinner at Costal Kitchen or 22 Doors. But as we sipped our cocktails and munched on a little sushi appetizer, we were inspired. There were several other places we hadn’t tried, and more untried drinks and nibblies for tasting at the restaurants we do frequent… why not turn it into a pub crawl, or perhaps more accurately, a tasting menu of 15th. A drink and an appetizer at each place… Liberty, HopVine, Costal Kitchen, 22 Doors, Kozak’s and the grand finally, the Canterbury (where we’d perhaps, just skip the food).
The drinks, as I had mentioned, started at Liberty. A mojito for me, as I had read that they had the best mojito on the street and a #1 Julep for him. My mojito was overly drinkable, emphasizing the simple syrup and mint over the other flavors. It went down unfortunately fast, unlike his julep with was sweetened bourbon, not for the faint of heart. For food, we chose the Fishface Roll… hamachi, shrimp, mango with the hint of a jalepeno kick. It was a fine bar snack, but I wouldn’t recommend hitting Liberty for the sushi… frankly, I’m not sure I’d recommend them for the drinks either, but I did like the couch atmosphere and the gigantic wood framed mirrors that lined the small space creating room and light where there was very little. It’s worth another try sometime, although I’m afraid some if the neighboring joints may pull me in most of the time.
Next stop, just a couple storefronts down, was the Hopvine, for a pint and some good comfort food. As we were sitting pondering the menu, our neighbor table received their appetizer of Pizza Knots, and we couldn’t resist. Little doughy balls of pizza crust tied up and baked crisp, and then slathered with garlic. MMMM. The accompanying marinara was fine for dipping, but nothing to jump up and down about. We also tried the wild mushroom soup, which I found delicious but was a bit to rosemary-infused for Cam. For beers, I tried the Scarlet Fire Ale and Cam had the Red Seal… both of which were tasty. I really liked the overall feel of the bar… at least until the live band started up. They were good, but the volume was way beyond what a bar of that size can handle. Or, perhaps I’m just getting old. Drinks done, ears ringing slightly, we moved on.
Coastal Kitchen has been a staple in our restaurant rotations for, well, I don’t know how long, but a really long time. It’s simple, fresh food and I love that the menu rotates around different food origins (currently in Costa Rica). In all that time, I’ve never just sat at the bar and had a drink… and despite some tired wait staff, I really enjoyed it. There’s a great view of all the cooking going on, and you feel a bit caught up in the chaos. For our appetizers, we had the seafood/mango ceviche, which came as three mini tostata shells filled to the brim, nicely trimmed with avocado… it was light and incredibly delicious. For drinks, I just had to order the Big Fat Llama merlot… we had been out driving around Vashon Island earlier in the day and passed a llama farm, so it seemed to fit the occasion. Cam had the Jose Beso a tasty mix of guava, mint, cachaca and lime.
I’ve written about 22 Doors before, and I still like the place. They’ve recently changed chefs, but I haven’t noticed much change in the quality of the food. On occasion, the service can be a bit questionable… but this night, sitting at the bar, we had a great time. In particular, 22 Doors has a fabulous cocktail list, if you like new and interesting drinks. I resisted my usuals, and ordered the Pear Martini. I don’t think I’ve ever had a drink quite like it… it was like drinking a piece of pie… it was almost thick with pear nectar and deliciously spiced. Cam chose the Batida Maracuja, yet another fruity cachaca cocktail… and one of my favorites. For our food item, we ordered the Cuban Prawns, which were very tasty… unfortunately I was so full at that point, I really had no appreciation for them…
Kozaks is a Barbecue joint just down the block… or perhaps I should say that it was one. Unfortunately, it was one of those places we had meant to try, but hadn’t gotten around to. Our little night of exploration was their staff closing party, or so we implied from the we’ll miss you sign taped to the door. So, no ribs and drinks for us. I’m curious to what is going in next…
And, then there was the Canterbury. What can you say about this place. It is pretty much what it looks like. An old English inspired dive bar. We had a pint of the twilight ale as we played a bit of pool at some really small pool tables.
Now, after all that, I’m leaving you with a drink recipe. Ironically, it’s not a drink we actually had during our pub crawl, but I was inspired to make this particular cocktail after a thorough read of the 22 Doors cocktail list. Their Nightshade Martini sounds like the foodie version a Bloody Mary made with freshly muddled heirloom tomatoes. And, while I’m not a huge fan of bloody Marys in general, I am a huge fan of fresh heirloom tomatoes and had a whole bowl full waiting for me at home. To make it a bit more interesting, I decided on a little twist… throw in some Thai seasonings like fish sauce instead of Worcestershire and Sri Racha instead of Tabasco, and a bit of thai basil thrown in for good measure. Mmmm. (afterwards, I realized that some thai ginger would have made a great addition too!)
Thai One On
(Thai Inspired Fresh Heirloom Tomato Bloody Mary)
2 small heirloom tomatoes
3 to 5 leaves fresh Thai or lemon basil
1 t freshly grated ginger (optional)
2 t fish sauce
1 t Sriracha (or to taste)
1 oz Vodka
Muddle the tomatoes, and push through a fine sieve to remove any seeds or skin. Retain just the juice.
Muddle the basil and ginger in the lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add the tomato juice, fish sauce, sriracha and vodka and shake until well mixed. Pour into a martini or old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a small tomato, basil or a thai pepper.