HOME > Chowhound > Greater Seattle >

Discussion

Gastropubs

Going to Seattle in two weeks for a vacation weekend. We're into casual spots with good drinks and creative food. Any good gastropuby spots in Seattle??

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
    1. re: Gizmo56

      Just came from Quinns where we had 3 beers, and split salad and burger.
      I've only been there once before and it was swell.
      Today though, kind of average and blah. C-
      The beer wasn't very cold. I asked about it and didn't get much of an answer...Except this gem,
      Them, "You ordered an ale and it's traditionally not served cold."
      Me, "Oh, are your beers stored at different temperatures?"
      Them, "No."
      Me, "!"
      Then I ordered a PBR and it came in a jelly jar, at the same kinda not tool cold temperature.
      Uh? I asked the bartender about the glass and he actually got huffy with me but did ask if I wanted a regular glass - which I did and the he poured my beer into a proper beer glass. Gosh thanks.
      On to the burger.
      Ordered the burger medium cause that's what my girl likes and we were splitting. It was served rareish oozing pink juices, even though it had a nice plastic thing on top stuck into the bun that said, "Medium."
      I mean, really.
      Fries weren't crisp though tasty nonetheless.
      Salad was a disapointment. Tired lettuce, a big slice of ham with tons of fat around the edge, not nearly enough dressing. And the "hard boiled eggs" were medium soft boiled and chilled, not drippy but not cooked.
      With tip $47, and that's happy hour beer at half price.
      I was looking forward to it but feel kinda ripped off.
      Beer in a jelly jar and not that cold in a Gastropub?
      Bogus man!

      1. re: JayDK

        I guess you're not a real beer lover. Your server was right in that Ales (at least good ones) should never be served too cold.

        I'm with you on the PBR though...since it doesn't taste like anything to begin with, it should be served very cold.

        I won't comment on your food complaints, since taste is subjective, but "gastropub" to me indicates a place that won't be serving their better beers at freezing "American beer" temperatures.
        Ironic though that the beer they should have served frozen, wasn't.

        In the end though, the very term "gastropub" is probably just about as utterly meaningless as the term "craft beer" is. LOL.

        1. re: JayDK

          Don't feel too bad, JDKay. I like Quinn's (and English-temp ENGLISH ales), but the place isn't nearly as special as everyone who works there thinks. Chin music is chin music, and tavern food there is still tavern food ; ;

          1. re: kaleokahu

            I always enjoy your comments K. Now on that "warm English beer thing" ...
            In the "old days" in Britain, the beer was brought up from the cellar. In the US the growth of the light lagers like Bud, Schlitz, PBR was driven by the railroads and refrigeration and the ability to make ice.
            Does it stand to reason that British style ales should be served at cellar temp and lagers served close to ice temp?
            Possibly but it might just be tradition getting in the way of taste.
            Bringing it back full circle, it was actually pretty funny when the Quinn's bartender took an attitude about my not wanting to drink from a jelly jar. Being from the Ozarks I can tell you, hillbillies drink from jelly jars out of thrift. i.e. being poor.
            Similar to thinking it's cool to wear your pants falling off your ass. That's not style. That's because when you go to jail they take your belt.
            Back to British drinking habits and temp and Quinns.
            When I was in Ireland golfing a few years ago, the popular drink after golf was cider in a glass, over ice! And it really hit the spot.

          2. re: JayDK

            Follow up to post:
            I emailed Quinns and got a speedy reply from the GM.
            It was very detailed and very professional.
            It's a classy thing for them to respond in such a way.
            So let's just say I had an off day there and plan to go back.

          3. re: Gizmo56

            Quinn's is fabulous depend on what you order. The menu changes but we loved the gnocchi, the frites, and the wild boar sloppy joe when we went. I don't think I would bother with a burger, you can get that anywhere. We had a few other items as well opting to share and do small plates. We likes the sloppy joe so much we ordered a second after we had eaten everything else.

          4. Blue glass http://theblueglass.net/ is great in the Ballard/Phinney neighborhood

            1. Hi, David:

              I've always been bumfuzzled by the term 'Gastropub'. I think this is because: (a) a high proportion of our pubs here serve interesting, top-notch food; and (b) a sizeable number of our better restaurants are practically indistinguishable from pubs. It might be better if you asked which places *aren't* casual or don't have good drinks and creative food.

              Somewhere in the mists of time, I remember LMAO at someone's pontification that Philadelphia *invented* gastropubs. The whole concept seems as meaningless to me now as it did then.

              I hope your visit is fun. I encourage you to use the search function and seek out the food genres in which you have interest. I think that would be more productive and predictive.

              Aloha,
              Kaleo

              3 Replies
              1. re: kaleokahu

                Too true.....

                Spur, Tavern Law, Quinn's, Artusi, Bait Shop, King's Hardware, breakfast for lunch at 5point, Bravehorse - I could go on and on and on......

                1. re: gingershelley

                  Great insights from our friend from the islands re: the vacuous nature of the "gastropub" concept. I don't think I could add much, but to say that initially it was a English thing. The genre has succeeded in recent years in US cities, esp. because of the recession, IMO, and the related diner trepdidation toward prix fixe, big ticket entrees. Could it be simply formulated as : good beer + "better-than-bar-food" food + pub ambiance?

                  1. re: equinoise

                    Good beer + better than bar food, yes - and the concept of pub ambiance would be the traditional one.
                    "More adventurous food" might be more appropriate.
                    And that might be where Quinn's got their rep.
                    Anyone can call their place a gastropub and not have the pub ambiance and still be a success.
                    The term morphs.
                    Noble Hops - "Tucson's original gastropub" is a case in point.
                    Their inside is modern, big bar down the middle that opens up to the outside; is a big patio, w/lounges, soft chairs, table seating, lounge around the fire pit, heaters, a killer unobstructed view of the mountains, you can smoke, they even have hookahs for rent with flavored tobacco.
                    Last time I was there the moon was full and rose directly over the mountains. Very nice and we don't get to see that too often in Seattle.....
                    It's really the opposite of "pub culture" but works in Tucson.
                    My nephew is the owner and when he told me he was putting in a "gastropub", I tried to talk him out of using the term because IMO it sounds too doofus hipster.
                    I asked him what it meant and he agreed with you, lot's of good rotating beer and wine on tap, TVs, interesting food a bit out of the ordinary.
                    They made a success ignoring the pub ambiance and making a great space to take advantage of the outside and the view.

                    (Not all their Yelp reviews are good and the bad ones are hilarious.)
                    http://noblehopspub.com/

                    Speaking of pubs, do you go to the CASK in W Sea? If so, what do you think?

              2. I would add my vote for Quinn's and for Spur. Spur specifically names itself a gastropub but in my view it is more restaurant -- not particularly grounded in modernized takes on pub food -- with a serious cocktail bar. Tavern Law is run by the same chefs. The food is very good. The cocktails are among the best in the city (consider making a reservation for the upstairs speakeasy space Needle and Thread).

                I always have thought that Brouwer's (Fremont) offered food that is was well above average for a pub. Brouwer's is one of our top beer bars (they also have a nice Scotch whiskey selection). They put on a number of festivals and other events -- like for Seattle Beer Week. They have in the neighborhood of 70 taps and 300 bottles. It is Belgian styled and Belgian focused although the menu pulls in other influences from North African to Thai. They also locally source quality meat and seafood, house grind the meat for their burgers and make their sausages in house. http://www.brouwerscafe.com

                Brave Horse Tavern in South Lake Union is a very enjoyable bar with a comfort food menu but as it has the Tom Douglas pedigree I think the food is above average.

                I would call King's a fun pub with average pub food and average drinks. It is not a gastropub. It is a place that is primarily about scene and I enjoy it whenever I go there but I would not eat there with the expectation of a particularly inventive or exciting meal. I haven't been to the Bait Shop but it is a sister restaurant to King's.

                I'll give some thought to some other options.

                1 Reply
                1. re: klsalas

                  I visit the deck at King's (because it's closer) , but its interior is a shameless ripoff of Jules Maes. You can *try* to duplicate >100 years of history, but if you look closely enough... The food is inferior, too.

                2. I'd give specific recommendations, but the reality is the entire area has been taken over by the gastropub model. You can't walk down the street without coming across a dozen of them, all of which are largely interchangeable with the "possible" exception of Luc, which has the distinction of being the only gastropub in the area run by a James Beard awarding winning chef.

                  21 Replies
                  1. re: Quintious

                    And I wouldn't call Luc a 'gastropub at all - but "a neighborhood restaurant with a NW / French Influence" - because that is what Thierry calls it :)

                    1. re: gingershelley

                      As much as I love Thierry and generally respect whatever he says about food as just about gospel....it's a gastropub :P

                      1. re: Quintious

                        According to the dictionary definition it should be first and foremost a pub, tavern or bar while offering meals of high quality. I also considered the term "gastropub" to at least connote a focus on beer (even if excellent wine and spirits are also available). Perhaps that is because the first gastropub (or at least the first place that coined the term) was The Eagle in London or maybe it is because traditionally pubs are beer focused. Luc is not a tavern, pub or bar. It is not first and foremost a drinking establishment. They have a wine list and cocktail list. That being said would likely very much enjoy Luc.

                        1. re: klsalas

                          You have your definition, I have mine. Thierry put Christoph over in Luc and they have an incredibly extensive drink selection. Beer is not a prerequisite of a gastropub in my opinion, at least not stateside. A gastropub in this country is nothing more than a place that has a watering hole type of feel with food that is too dolled up for pub fare but not elegant enough for restaurant fare. Add in the televisions and it seals the deal. That's exactly what Luc is.

                          1. re: Quintious

                            Hi, Quintious:

                            You and klsalas duke it out over a definition if you want, but I still consider the term almost meaningless. Kinda like calling a Bordeaux-style wine a Meritage, I'm not sure what purpose it serves.

                            Aloha,
                            Kaleo

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              Right on!
                              A word about beers and my experience with Quinns.
                              Checked (with the nephew that owns the gastropub in Tucson) about beer temps.
                              He runs the lines from the kegs of beer to the tap through a refrigerated conduit at 37 degrees. His beer comes out of the tap at 39 degrees.
                              The response from Quinns (about my comment of warm beer) said that they will now (based on my comment) instruct their bartenders to run off enough beer prior to the first pour so they aren't serving warm beer.
                              Which indicates they aren't refrigerating their lines.
                              Uh, does that pass the test?
                              So a definition of a place focused on beer like a "gastropub" should include something about taking care of the beer - which includes refrigerating the lines, disinfecting the taps daily, etc.
                              As much as I want to give Quinns a break, not cold beer, unrefrigerated lines, etc just don't cut it in my book.
                              If you like your ale at cellar temp, you can always ask the bartender to pour the beer into a room temp glass and it will soon be cellar temp if you wait a few minutes.
                              Can we beat this horse more?

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                I side with ksalas on this question. How can a gastropub (or any -pub) exist without beer? What does TV have to do with it?

                                1. re: equinoise

                                  Hi, equinoise:

                                  Well, if beer is a necessary condition of qualifying as a "gastropub", then only a small minority of establishments fail to qualify. And if a beer focus is also a *sufficient* condition, there are a hell of a lot of "gastropubs" all over Seattle.

                                  I still maintain the term is all but useless. To me it merely conveys a pubby setting with a high opinion of the food it serves.

                                  Aloha,
                                  Kaleo

                                  1. re: equinoise

                                    Also not sure about what TV has to do with it.
                                    TV is only requisite at a sports bar in my opinion.

                                    1. re: melpy

                                      Hi, melpy:

                                      Considering the ubiquity of TVs in pubs and bars, you might as well abandon the term "sports bar", too.

                                      Aloha,
                                      Kaleo

                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        I would not consider them ubiquitous. I would only consider them a necessity where the entire intent of the bar is TV related. There are many establishments without them.

                                        1. re: melpy

                                          Hi, melpy:

                                          The "entire intent of the bar"? Not sure what that means.

                                          We must move in different circles--offhand, I can't think of a bar without at least one TV. To me, that's ubiquitous.

                                          Aloha,
                                          Kaleo

                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                            You mean, you can't think of a gastropub without a TV? You don't mean cocktail bar, right? If so, you're hanging out in the wrong bars!

                                            1. re: Lauren

                                              Hi, Lauren:

                                              Your question begs the question of what a gastropub is. There are plenty of casual *restaurants* without TVs, and some with. But IME, the "pubbier" the place, the nearer to certainty you can be that you'd soon be marinating in the tubercular glow of multiple TVs. In fact, I'll go so far as to posit that the only way you can tell you're in a "sportsbar" anymore is when the place has a sport-y name, or they cover the walls with sports schlock.

                                              I'm just amused when people think something changed, or something new winked into existence when someone coined the term 'gastropub'. I've yet to hear a cogent explanation of how such a place differs from any pub that serves good food.

                                              Was a time, back when WSLCB wore stricter pants, there was less confusion and clearer distinctions to be drawn. For instance, you could pretty much tell at the threshold whether your choice was a tavern or a bar. But with the easy availability of spirit-class licensing, taverns have morphed into alehouses, and included wine and spirits, the food to go with the drinks, and all the TVs.

                                              And no, I didn't mean cocktail bars, but *that* distinction lacks a big difference these days, too. As we lawyers like to say, we only pass one bar in our lives... What TV-less bars would you recommend, and are any of them "gastropubs"?

                                              Aloha,
                                              Kaleo

                                            2. re: kaleokahu

                                              I mean if the bar caters to TV watchers. The local watering hole in a small town has multiple TVs for folks without cable to watch their favorite game but the Belgian gastropub caters to "fancy beer" drinkers looking for good food, no TV in sight.

                                              ETA: the majority of these watering holes serve food.

                                              1. re: melpy

                                                Hi, melpy:

                                                Sorry, I don't buy that there are "watering holes" whose "entire intent" is providing TV for patrons without cable or satellite. And there's quite a lot of "fancy beer" all around.

                                                This is funny. Who *isn't* looking for good food? Simply repeating the term 'gastropub' doesn't give it any meaning.

                                                I'm OK with the 2012 Webster Dictionary definition: "a pub, bar, or tavern that offers meals of high quality". But considering that there are countless such establishments that serve high-quality meals, the label proves too much and too little in my book.

                                                Maybe a distinction along these lines between pub and gastropub made sense before the last millenium, when English pubs either didn't serve food *at all* or only cold rudimentary fare like a ploughman's lunch.

                                                In the rural area where I grew up, there was (and still is) a tavern/roadhouse. It has multiple bigscreens showing NASCAR re-runs to people who have the same cable or satellite access as they do. It also has always had a trained chef, an extensive menu of dishes using fresh, local ingredients, and the finest broasted chicken I've ever tasted. It pulls the "fancy beer" handles right alongside PBR's.

                                                Gastropub or not, and why? Does it make any difference to the analysis that the building was built as a service station and was a stone's throw away from the County dump?

                                                Aloha,
                                                Kaleo

                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  If their focus is fine food while still being a bar why isn't it a gastropub?

                                                  I was talking about actual places in my town and they are there for the reasons I have said. I am sorry that most folks here can't afford cable/sat. Most people also only have Internet on their phone here.

                                                  The food is definitely not the focus and it is mediocre at best.

                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                    Hi, melpy:

                                                    Hey, I'm with you on the affordability of cable/satellite--considering the appalling lack of redeeming programming, I'm not sure Bill Gates would consider it a good deal.

                                                    But I submit the watering holes you mention have as their main purpose *selling the water*. That they apparently don't make their food *any* sort of focus is definitely sad and probably short-sighted.

                                                    We are lucky here in Pugetopolis to have many pubby places with excellent food, much of it very affordable. Perhaps this is *my* bias showing, but when I eat at a place marketed and whispered about as a "gastropub" and pay $15 or more for a burger that is no better than I can get for $10 at a "tavern" or diner, I feel like I was finessed by a meaningless word.

                                                    Is Seattle easily accessible to you?

                                                    Aloha,
                                                    Kaleo

                                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                                      Unfortunately, no. I live in a wasteland of food. Seattle had some great eats while we were there and some of our favorites were these "gastropubs" among the fine dining locations.

                                                      Some of the other places we have been around the country billing themselves as gastropub also tend to have better food. My only point was that the "TV" is not ubiquitous.

                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                        Hi, melpy:

                                                        Well, come on back!

                                                        Aloha,
                                                        Kaleo

                                  2. re: Quintious

                                    I would say that Luc's dinner fare often is more elegant than many other places in town we would all call a 'restaurant', and just 'cause there is a tv screen and an extensive drink list (who doesn't have that these days?) doesn't make it a gastropub.

                                    A neighborhood restaurant is perfectly accurate, and what the owner was aiming for, and got IMHO.