Sophisticated yet comfortable food in a tucked away part of Capitol Hill.
When you hear the term “single shot” do you think whiskey, coffee or firearm? You may have different thoughts after trying the classy Capitol Hill restaurant and bar Single Shot.
For me, Single Shot conjures images of oven-roasted meats — a hefty pork chop, a hanger steak, half a chicken — sliced and arranged with sauces and assorted vegetables in a deliberate sprawl across thick wooden carving boards.
The phrase evokes memories of dipping crisp apple slices into creamy tallegio pub cheese, of spreading warm, salt cod brandade on seasoned crostini, of trawling for tiny mussels and crisp pork belly nuggets in a sensational black rice “porridge” briny with uni butter.
Single Shot ★★★
611 Summit Ave. E., Seattle
Reservations: accepted (no minors)
Hours: daily 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; limited late-night menu 10 p.m.-midnight; bar open until 2 a.m. daily; brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Prices: $$$ (small plates $5-$11, medium $12-$16, large $18-$25)
Drinks: full bar; classic and original cocktails; Northwest and Old World wines
Service: smart, experienced
Parking: on street (theoretically)
Sound: very loud
Who should go: Cuddle with your love, carouse with friends, commune singly at the bar.
Credit cards: all major
Access: no obstacles
Of course, there’s whiskey at Single Shot, coffee too, and a rifle does figure prominently in the décor. The gun’s not real, it’s an outsize replica, a piece of folk art that a century ago hung on a North Carolina gun shop. It inspired the restaurant’s name and, no doubt, the noirish look of the narrow, shotgun interior, strikingly rendered in black slate, white marble and many shades of gunmetal gray.
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The rifle is mounted on the mirrored bar back, something to contemplate while sipping a cocktail called Damascus, a sherry-sweetened riff on the Rob Roy, or the vodka-based Northern Cornice, brisk with orange, lime and cardamom bitters.
Adam Fream (a Murray Stenson disciple), Anna Wallace (former bar manager at The Walrus and the Carpenter) and owner Ruadhri McCormick share the bartending duties. Wine is the purview of Guy Kugel, most recently of Altura, here trying to control his inner wine geek and not allow his intriguing list to get too esoteric or too pricey for the neighborhood.
Espresso drinks are available at dinner, as well as weekend brunch, when you might sip a cappuccino with a very fine tarte flambeé topped with bacon and Comte cheese. But it’s dinner that will tempt me back.
Chef James Sherrill cooked long ago with Danielle Custer at 727 Pine, then at Crush with Jason Wilson. He was Restaurant Zoë’s chef de cuisine, and most recently ran the kitchen at re:public, until McCormick, a co-owner of that restaurant, tapped him for Single Shot.
You’ll find traces of all those influences in Sherrill’s cooking here. This isn’t bar food — pizza, pub cheese and curried goat mac and cheese notwithstanding — and though the food is rustic, to label it comfort food belies the finesse behind the carefully woven flavors.
The brandade was part of a compelling charcuterie trio that included excellent duck prosciutto and ciccioli, a plancha-seared patty of pressed pork. Cauliflower was seared on the plancha, too, before being tossed with hazelnut vinaigrette and mounded on thick Romesco sauce.
The plancha put a satisfying crackle on the skin of Arctic char. Like the meats, the fish anchored an artfully disheveled landscape arranged on a thick wooden board (hewed by Portland-based Modern Stump). Strewn with white bean puree, romaine leaves, tiny carrots, bacon bits and black Nigella seeds, it resembled the beach after a storm.
Accompaniments ably supported star attractions. Tangy pomegranate glaze, butter-rich spaghetti squash and mustard-laced Brussels sprouts partnered with the juicy pork chop. Tiny oven-roasted turnips, sweet Tête de Moine cheese and pungent speck mostarda contributed exclamation points of flavor to garlic-buttered hanger steak. Black garlic bolstered a sauce for crispy-skinned chicken, an all too fleeting special served with wild mushrooms and butternut squash puréed with foie gras.
Pub cheese $10
Roasted cauliflower $12
Tarte flambeé $14
Black rice porridge $18
Hanger steak $25
Dessert was an exception. Heavy, dull buckwheat cake undermined a dreamy dollop of chocolate crémeaux (think frosting meets pot de crème) sauced with burnt orange caramel.
Single Shot offers fine dining in a neighborhood bar-like milieu. The diffused lighting is soft, but seats are hard, the metal bar stools backless, and the noise level loud enough that sound-baffling is under consideration. But prices are moderate: $8-$10 cocktails and $18-$26 entrees ample enough for two. Most of the dinner menu’s small, medium and large plates are designed for sharing, smart in a 40-seat space with small tables and intimate banquette seating. It’s in a pocket of Capitol Hill that’s a bit off the beaten path, yet I expect many will draw a bead on Single Shot more than once.