Monday, April 7, 2014

Bar #22: Speckled & Drake - Capitol Hill

There are plenty of reasons to dislike Speckled & Drake. They have DJ and karaoke nights, they attract a young, annoying crowd (although I went there on a Saturday night, so things are probably different during the week) and they have a vibe that's typical of places in Capitol Hill that my lady Francesca calls "blue-collar kitsch." Not sure exactly what that means, but I kind of get it: the place has a duck and duck-hunting theme, a "shot-and-a-beer" menu and bartenders and patrons who sport trucker hats or ironic hairdos. 

Petty gripes aside, I like this place. I appreciate the simplicity of it, and I like the whole shot-and-a-beer thing. It's the kind of drinking I like to do. When Francesca and I came in, I couldn't see the dimly lit chalkboard menu of shot-and-beer combos above the bar, so I just ordered a shot of Buffalo Trace and a can of Hamm's. Francesca got a gin and tonic. Total for that was $13, which is reasonable. If I'd seen the menu, I could've opted to go cheaper with the $5 Round Here (Rainier tallboy and shot of well whiskey) or $6 Fisherman's Friend (pint of Oly and shot of well whiskey). Higher-end options included the $11 Horny Woodsman (Rainier tallboy and shot of Woodford Reserve bourbon). 

If you want to go off-menu and get a mixed drink that doesn't have cheap well booze, there's a small but solid liquor selection. In addition to the Rainier and Hamm's in cans, there are six beers on tap and they keep it local: Oly, Schooner Exact King Street Brown Ale, Maritime Old Seattle Lager, NW Peaks Redoubt Red, Schooner Exact Evergreen IPA and something from Peddler. I bet the Oly is always on and the other five rotate. 

I'm looking forward to coming back to Speckled & Drake and having a shot and a beer on a Monday or Tuesday. Be willing to bet that the things that annoyed me on a Saturday will be absent, and I'll be able to relax and have a good time.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bar #21: Cure - Capitol Hill

Wow, it's been almost three years since the last bar review? No time for excuses, though. Let's just jump back into it:

Cure is a small bar in Capitol Hill near Cal Anderson Park. The focus is on small plates (cured meats, fancy cheeses, olives) and drinks. There's an L-shaped bar area with nine seats, and 10 tables for groups of two to four. 

My lady and I sat at the bar and started with $10 cocktails, a Remedium and a Toronto. The cocktails were fine, but if I'm gonna pay double digits for a drink, I'd rather go to a place like Zig Zag, where the quality matches the price. We ordered a prosciutto plate, a speck plate and some olives. The meats and cheeses on the plates were tasty, but the portions were a little small for the prices ($11.95 and $12.95). Maybe the best thing foodwise was the complimentary bowls of spicy pumpkin seeds on the bar—we inhaled three bowls of the damn things.

I switched to beer and went with a Ninkasi IPA. Cure has three beers on tap (Ninkasi IPA, Odin's Gift and Busch), and a handful more in bottles and cans. The current can selection (Kokanee, Stella, Rolling Rock) is pretty lame. Would be nice to have something from Fremont or at least a more appealing shitty-beer option like Hamm's. The only good cheap beer option here is Rainier in bottles. But at $3.50 a pop, it really isn't cheap. You're better off throwing down $4.50 for a Ninkasi draft.

I liked the low-key feel of the bar. There were only a handful of people there on a Saturday evening, and I didn't want to strangle any of them (a rarity in Capitol Hill on a weekend night). While it's not the kind of bar I'd come to often, I could see returning occasionally for a snack and a drink.