The Wagyu beef skewers are well worth the trip, and hey, Ethan Stowell might even be there to shuck an oyster for you.
Chefs Ethan Stowell and Joe Ritchie stood by the bar entrance, needling each other while they shucked oysters during happy hour.
“We have Bonita Beach … Hama Hama, Pacific, a few Shigoku,” Stowell said, pointing with his shucking knife.
“The question is do you want them shucked by Ethan,” Ritchie chimed in.
Stowell, who runs a dozen restaurants across the city, replied, “You know, I’m still in the kitchen.”
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The Four Seasons hotel brought out the big guns to promote the new happy hour. It amounts to a declaration of war against Japonessa and other happy-hour hot spots around downtown.
A Wagyu-steak-and-seafood kinda place, Goldfinch Tavern sits under the swanky banner of the Four Seasons hotel, drawing the well-coiffed and the well-heeled.
The new gourmet happy hour — 17 different bar snacks and sandwiches — is meant to signal that its hotel bar is more than just for the suits from Russell Investments across the street and the overnighters who shell out $449 for a room.
Priced mostly around $10-$13, Goldfinch’s bar food costs a bit more than at other nearby happy hours but is still the better value.
Its crabcake could be in contention for best in the city — lumps of Dungeness with little filler and just enough binding to hold its hockey-puck shape. Its tuna poke doesn’t smell like something washed ashore like some happy-hour sushi. (As a general rule, you know to avoid discounted happy-hour sushi, right?) Here, cubes of albacore are fresh and bright with citrusy flavors and come with a floral pop from toasted coriander seeds.
Yeah, its popular burger is one of the best downtown. But you can do better.
Skewers of Wagyu beef with fries come to mind, cubes of marbled steak with a crusted char and a bloody red center, a buttery, smoky bite worth the $11. That alone is worth a trip downtown.
At 5 o’clock, outside the bar windows, traffic moved at a brisk pace and just as fast, it came to a crawl. Even the churning Ferris wheel appeared to be moving faster than the rush-hour traffic on the viaduct.
By then, the after-work crowd trickled in, spilling out into the atrium. Some schmoozed with Stowell. It seemed as if most just happened to be there during happy hour rather than came there for the happy hour.
Many shunned the $8 happy-hour Manhattan and margarita. One patron ordered a Sazerac. Another requested a vodka “martini with a hard shake for some ice,” before turning to explain, “that’s the best.”
The barman slid a martini filled with waves of ice flakes across the bar. “Sorry, I overpoured.”
“Hey, that’s even better,” the patron said.
Goldfinch Tavern inside the Four Seasons, 99 Union St., offers happy hour weekdays 4-6 p.m. with $5-$13 bar food, $8 selected cocktails, $7-$8 wine, $4-$5 beer (206-749-7000, fourseasons.com/seattle).