I was stopped in my tracks when I saw this thistle-like plant, cultivated in a garden outside Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry. What makes it unusual is the intense purplish-blue color of not only the blossom but the spiky leaves surrounding it. My guess is that it’s a false blue thistle. Regardless, the plants were attracting a lot of bees.
When Amazon moved its headquarters from the imposing, ex-VA hospital building atop Beacon Hill to the soon-to-be industrial park at the southern end of Lake Union, it dramatically changed the economy and redevelopment of a section of town that had been characterized by light industry, small businesses and warehouses. Not only do employees of Amazon now work and live in South Lake Union (SLU), but eat here, too, as restaurants quickly opened to take advantage of the concentration of young, well-paid high-techies. Local restauranteur extraordinaire Tom Douglas was one to jump on the bandwagon. To go along with his other endeavors elsewhere in Seattle, he now has three places in SLU: Serious Pie & Biscuit, Cuoco and Brave Horse Tavern.
Sunday would seem to be the ideal time to go to any of these, for on any other day of the week, they’re packed with Amazonians and other diners who appreciate the goodness that Douglas consistently produces. There is also another incentive to eat at Brave Horse Tavern (located above Cuoco)—buttermilk fried chicken dinner that is served only on Sundays. Four of us split the dinner, smorgasbord of bar snacks, house-made pretzel and beers.
Tonight alone, I counted 34 beers on tap, most of them from West Coast microbreweries, which can be ordered in 12- or 16-ounce glasses or in a pitcher. Three of us individually chose Dos Borrachos Mexican Lager, Thai Fi Basil Pale and Rio’s Rompin’ Rye Ale. A good selection of ciders is also available as well as cocktails, wines and a long list of stiffer drinks. This place is not lacking for ways to get buzzed.
Brave Horse makes its own soft pretzels baked in a brick oven. By itself, the pretzel was very good, but the tavern gives you a choice of several accompaniments, including smoked peanut butter and bacon that one of our party ordered. Personally, peanut butter is on my list of prefer-not-do. I do like it in sauces used in southeast Asian cooking. But, I have to say that Douglas’ smoked version with bacon was remarkably good paired with a pretzel straight out of the oven, deeply browned and as good as a freshly made soft pretzel should be (☆☆☆½).
The tavern’s equivalent of an antipasto plate is its smorgasbord of bar snacks (☆☆☆). Outstanding were the house-made kielbasa, pickled vegetables and onion dip. Not quite so lofty were deviled eggs, pretzel chips and trail mix. Least impressive was an ale cheese that seemed curiously bland. Sliced apple and Rainier cherries completed the snacks.
It’s not clear why Douglas doesn’t offer fried chicken every day. It could be that the kitchen would be overwhelmed by orders on any other day but Sunday. The chicken is that good (☆☆☆☆). The flesh is supremely moist, encased in a perfectly seasoned and crunchy batter that hints of herbs. My first bite released juices that ran down my fingers and onto the plate. The sides changing seasonally, tonight were served (in Southern style) waffles, grilled corn and watermelon. The waffles were almost the chicken’s equal (☆☆☆½), studded with bits of bacon. The corn was blackened too much for my health-conscious comfort but tasty nonetheless, and I will probably not have a juicier melon all year.
Brave Horse Tavern can accommodate lots of people. The interior space is huge, filled with long tables for communal dining. We were the only ones at our table, and we would have enjoyed our own “space” just as much dining al fresco at individual round tables outside. There have been complaints about the extraordinary noise levels when the place is packed and even shouting at your companion is not a guarantee of being heard. Shuffleboards and darts, not to mention beers and plenty of good noshes, encourage customers to hang loose. You must be 21+ years old to enter. This is a fun tavern and another win for Tom Douglas.
Related posts of other Tom Douglas restaurants
Brave Horse Tavern
310 Terry Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109