If you look carefully, Needle & Thread’s name is also on the menu.
Slight change of plans. At some point today, I looked at the calendar and realized, come Thursday, I will have lived in Seattle for four years… This also means B and I have lived together for four years. Naturally, this merits celebration, so I did a bit of schedule rearranging. Tavern Law was on the calendar for this coming Thursday. Since it was new to us, I felt better choosing something a bit more reliable and instead opted to move Tavern Law to tonight and visit Book Bindery on Thursday. Very exciting!
Tonight we paid a bit of homage to our favorite show of the moment, Boardwalk Empire. We don’t watch a lot of TV, but this show is worth every minute. Set in Prohibition era Atlantic City, every episode is enthralling. By all counts, I don’t imagine this was a particularly easy time to be alive (especially as a soldier, woman or minority). Nonetheless, it holds a certain romance and allure that not only keeps us watching, but inspires us to want to take part.
I don’t mean to trivialize Tavern Law by imposing such a recent pop culture reference on them. It’s clear their intention is to pay homage to the history and the craft of bartending as an art. They do this very well, but I still enjoyed the ability to tie it back to a piece of fictionalized history I enjoy very much.
The speakeasy certainly isn’t new to the restaurant and nightlife scene. Over the past few years, the mystery and exclusivity of alleyway and semi-private bars reminicent of Prohibition times have become quite popular in major cities across the country. B and I visited Bathtub Gin & Co. in a dark Seattle alleyway a few months ago and had a wonderful time. Tavern Law is a bit more mainstream than Bathtub Gin, but the theme is certainly still prevalent.
We arrived according to our usual geriatric drive time schedule (about 5:15). There were already a few people seated at the bar. The decor truly reflects a different time. With the ornate black leather booths, heavy stools, dark wood, small antique style lamps and books everywhere, it’s easy to forget the Ferrari and Maserati dealership sits mere feet outside their door. Although I didn’t notice it until we were leaving, my favorite detail in the whole space was a beautiful old typewriter right by the exit next to an open leatherbound book. Owners/chefs Dana Tough and Brian McCracken did a fantastic job of staying true to the spirit of their story without allowing it to become kitschy or corny.
The true speakeasy portion of Tavern Law is actually a separate space called Needle and Thread behind a heavy (looking) black door with a phone you use to gain access. We didn’t visit this time, but will definitely try on a return trip.
Needle and Thread Entrance
Sadly, once again the service was the lowlight of our visit. I won’t harp on it since it’s really not worth it, and it did improve as the meal progressed, but we weren’t impressed to start with. I was actually in the process of going to ask our server if we could order food when she saw me stand and finally came back to the table. She seemed generally bored.
Craft cocktails are Tavern Law’s specialty. I had a Monkey Gland (Gin, orange juice, Grenadine and Absinthe) and B had The Art of Losing (Rye, Amara Nonino, Aperol and Bitters). For dinner, we shared the fingerling potatoes with chorizo and aioli. I had the fried chicken with polenta and braised greens and B had the beef burger topped with pork belly (again with the pork belly).
I can’t honestly tell you the last time I had fried chicken, so it’s hard to say if this chicken was really that good, or if it was merely a function of the fact that I haven’t eaten anything that fried in ages. In either case, it was really, really good. B had the burger with pork belly at Tavern Law’s sister restaurant, Spur Gastropub a few months ago. At the time he said it was the best burger in Seattle. Tonight he said there was no way he could choose between the two. I had a bite of both. I agree it’s an impossible decision. And then there was dessert…
The only dessert option on the menu was plum sorbet with brown butter soil. Sorbet and I usually make fast friends, but sadly, this is the first time in my life I’ve ever left a frozen dessert half uneaten. B wouldn’t touch it. It was truly awful. Novel and very pretty, but terrible. It’s ok. Their menu changes daily, so I’m betting next time they have something fantastic. This one just wasn’t for me.
Once again, Capitol Hill is a decided success. We’re getting better (or at least luckier) with the parking. I have a feeling our next visit to Tavern Law will be to enjoy a few more of those craft cocktails and it just might involve a cab ride and a rotary phone.