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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Seattle Part III: Quinn's Pub

Quinn's Pub in Capitol Hill, Seattle
Eric and I departed the Pyramid Alehouse a few hours before the start of the Yankees v. Mariners game on our intoxicating Friday-Funday around Seattle.  A crowd had already gathered in the Pyramid beer garden and all around the stadium.  I enjoyed seeing the atmosphere and fanfare around the ballpark, but Boo and I had another place to visit before we headed to the pre-wedding barbeque, so we couldn't stay for the game.  If you need a reminder, we had already raised our glasses at The Pike Brewing Company (Seattle Part I) before making our way over to the Pyramid Alehouse (Seattle Part II) for even more beer and festivities.  Now we found ourselves traveling back downtown by light rail and then catching a taxi to Capitol Hill where we found a fine establishment known as Quinn's Pub.  This place came recommended to me by the Seattle Food Geek himself, so I figured it had to be good! 

Quinn's Pub is located on East Pike Street, just a little ways up the hill from Pike Place Market and downtown Seattle.  The Capitol Hill neighborhood is known for being a unique part of town.  The area is one of Seattle's most densely populated neighborhoods and is known for its LGBT friendliness, the Seattle art scene, and is home to Seattle's music, made famous by the Grunge movement of the 1990s.  It was in this historic and hip neighborhood that Eric and I met up with Regan Vaugn, the General Manager of Quinn's Pub, for a few more beverages and some gastropub grub.

The Balcony Level at Quinn's Pub

Quinn's had a slightly rustic yet hip ambiance that provided to its obviously well-established culture.  It seemed to match the neighborhood very well in that regard.  However, it wasn't the culture that brought me to Quinn's Pub.  After getting the recommendation and looking up some details, I realized that Quinn's had two great things going for it: an excellent Trappist and local craft beer selection and inspiring, original cuisine.

Eric and I both started with one of Regan's local selections: a pint of Dick's Grand Cru. Dick's Brewing Company resides in Centralia, WA and brews up 21 different varieties of ale. The Grand Cru is an award winning Belgian-style ale made with malted barley and Noble hops. One of 14 beers that Quinn's had on tap, the Grand Cru poured with an amber-orange body and off-white head. The sugars and fruit did wonders to mask the 10% or so ABV on this bad boy, providing a smooth taste, clean finish, and deceptively strong beer.

Ragan and a Glass of Dick's Grand Cru
Regan kindly sent us a couple of Quinn's Pub's signature pretzels to taste.  The doughy knot of flour and salt may have been one of the best soft pretzels I've ever eaten.  The texture seemed to be a mixture between chewy and melt-in-your-mouth goodness.  One dip in the Welsh rarebit, a beer and cheese sauce, and I had a perfect snack to go along with my imbibing.

Pretzel with Welsh Rarebit
In addition to a superb beer list, Quinn's also has enough whiskey, whisky, and bourbon to make a grown cry out of pure joy.  Being a rather large fan of all Irish whiskey other than Jameson (not that it's bad, just that it is the only one that is available everywhere), I noticed that Quinn's had one that I'd never tasted before.  I ordered a glass of Knappogue Castle 1995 neat.  The Knappogue is different than most Irish whiskey.  It is aged in oak bourbon barrels, and even more rare, the Knappogue Castle is a single malt whiskey, not a blend.  Distilled in 1995 and bottled in 2007, the whiskey has a pale golden color and distinct floral and citrus fruit notes on the nose, as well as possibly some honey and vanilla.  I found each sip to be remarkable smooth, easy to drink and somewhat mellow yet sweet.  There's not much like drinking some great whiskey after hours of beer drinking.  In all reality, I'm sure it's what did me in, but it was worth it!

Knappogue Castle 1995 Irish Whiskey
Aside from the booze, what really attracted me to Quinn's Pub was the unique gastropub fare.  The menu consists of various salads, sandwiches, small plates, large plates, snacks, sides, and cheeses.  Deciding what to order proved to be a very difficult task, so I continued to let Regan and our waitress, Erin, steer us in the right direction.  They certainly did just that!  For a sandwich we sampled the wild boar sloppy joe.  The ground boar's game flavor came through while the fresh sage leaves added a peppery kick.  The sloppy joe presented a great twist on the cafeteria classic, and I enjoyed every bit of the nostalgic nosh.    

The Wild Boar Sloppy Joe at Quinn's Pub
From the 'small plates' menu came the oxtail.  The dish featured the slow-braised oxtail with gnocchi, fontina, and crispy marrow.  Erin warned us that "most people that order one end up ordering two."  While we resisted the urge due to our bellies being slightly stuffed from the day's bites and boozes, it wouldn't have taken much of an arm twist to get me to double the portion.  The oxtail's tenderness and flavor were incredible.  Each savory taste presented a myriad of flavors with the gnocchi and marrow adding proper complex, yet friendly, flavors.  The beautiful, imaginative, and modern dish had classic and rustic characteristics that perfectly matched the charm of Quinn's Pub.

Quinn's Small Plate: Oxtail, Gnocchi, Fontina, Crispy Marrow
Eric and I each had one more beer while wrapping up our time at Quinn's.  We got a couple more pints of locally brewed glory, Manny's Pale Ale and Odin's Gift Ruby Ale.  Manny's comes from the Georgetown Brewing Company in Seattle.  With a semi-orange color, Manny's nicely combines its Northwest hops with a trio of malts and English ale yeast to put forward a quality beer that is smooth and crisp on the finish.  Odin's Gift Ruby Ale comes from the Odin Brewing Company, also in Seattle.  The self proclaimed "most adventurous microbrewery in America" makes only small, hand-crafted batches of its deep-ruby colored ale. Living up to their "adventurous" label, Odin's Gift is brewed with juniper berries for a unique finish while still maintaining a nice balance of malt and hops.  If nothing else, it is an interesting beer with a unique twist, and is certainly worth a try.

Manny's Pale Ale and Odin's Gift Ruby Ale
And with that, our brief tour of Seattle had come to its conclusion.  The remainder of the weekend was filled with more food and drinks (well, not much to drink for me as it took a full day to recover from Friday), with family time and wedding obligations mixed in.  I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and will be looking forward to my next trip to the Pacific Northwest where I hope to find even more craft beer and great food.  Until then, Louisiana cuisine calls my name.  Gosh, my life is hard!

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