It's been an emotional roller coaster for the Montlake families who were thrilled when hearing, several months ago, that the venerable Madrona Eatery and Ale House would be opening...
It’s been an emotional roller coaster for the Montlake families who were thrilled when hearing, several months ago, that the venerable Madrona Eatery and Ale House would be opening a similar outpost in Montlake that is, a family-friendly pub in a neighborhood long on families and short on pubs.
When it opened in October, in the old Grady’s Grillhouse on 24th, reality hit. The affordable, delectable drop-in dinnerhouse of their dreams turned out to be underwhelming and overpriced ho-hum gnocchi, available flawlessly next door at Café Lago for just a $1.95 more, being the representative insult.
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I’m delighted to report that ensuing months have swung the pendulum to a happy synthesis. Prices for the appetizers, soups, salads, pastas, sandwiches and entrees are still higher than your neighborhood-pub expectations might warrant about $7-$15 and the place insists on tacking $2 onto split orders. But execution has steadily improved since the earlier days, and now your food might actually merit its price.
Best is the concept a pub with good wines and beers (15 on draft, as well as bottles), plus hard liquor, in a cavernous environment that welcomes kids (but only until 9 p.m., when the place kicks them out, turns up the music and invites in the smokers).
Young Montlake families are obviously so giddy over this setup they’re packing the place, Wednesdays through Sundays especially. They’re particularly fond of the back of the house, which features a big table-ringed toy pit carpeted, yet still vaguely medieval into which the young’ns literally disappear.
If you have kids, the children’s menu and crayons, The Pit and a gin and tonic or three will grant you a nice respite. If you don’t have kids, or yearn to dine with herds of them, you may want to hold off visiting until the place finally catches up with the bank accounts of their parents.
Tortilla chips with pico de gallo: Tortilla chips are not normally worth writing about, but these are impressive: homemade, crunchy and addictive, served with a very solid pico de gallo.
Beer-battered onion rings: Not as fine as the chips a little gummy, a little chewy but they still offered all the sensual pleasures of good fried food, in jumbo size. I’d have preferred a dipping accompaniment more compelling than tartar sauce.
Bruschetta: Admirable! Charred planks of nicely oiled bread, cut just thick enough, were spread with a mild but plenty briny tapenade and topped with chunks of tomato and blops of terrific goat cheese.
Marinated pork loin: Slices of grilled pork loin, marinated in Dijon and served with a horseradish demiglaze, were first-rate if presented cool. (We asked our server to please heat them up for us, which he smilingly did in the oven. That earned him 10 points.) Served with lightly cheesy polenta and warm, savory greens.
Chicken sandwich: A terrific plate, starring a chicken-on-grilled-focaccia sandwich with Swiss cheese, sun-dried tomato aioli and a mess of caramelized onions. Very tasty. The deal was sealed with a glistening side salad, better than it could have gotten away with being, crafted of wild greens and Parmesan in a balsamic vinaigrette.
Itemized bill, meal for two
Tortilla chips with pico de gallo $5.00
Beer-battered onion rings ($8 from 6-10 p.m.) $5.00
Marinated pork loin $15.00
Chicken sandwich $9.00
Kathryn Robinson: firstname.lastname@example.org