Sunday, March 4, 2012

A visit to Elliott Bay Brewhouse and Pub in Burien

Elliott Bay Brewhouse and Pub, Burien

Much has been said about Elliott Bay Brewing Company moving into the Lake City neighborhood.  The future business has created a buzz in this corner of Seattle, especially among younger families and people looking for a business to help define our community.

Aside from their much-lauded beer selection and food, the expectation from many is that the pub will bring a vibe to the Lake City business core that has been largely lacking. Residents in West Seattle are known to be fond of their location and the Burien location is also known as a community gathering place.

Sure we have pubs and bars in our neighborhood, but many of them smell of the decades of cigarette smoke that was the norm before the state's ban on indoor smoking. That permanent odor is combined with a musty old-wood-frame-building smell that is uniquely Northwest. They are not necessarily places you would take visiting friends or family. And most of these businesses are also not welcoming to children. With the lower-priced homes in our neighborhood, the Lake City area is quickly becoming a popular neighborhood for young families.

In a 2006 article Elliott Bay's West Seattle location was featured in the Seattle P-I. From that story:
It's a cozy, dark place, with high-backed booths and funky artwork. But the tiny bar, slightly harried wait staff, ample supply of crayons and a kids menu that features mandarin oranges, turkey rolls and veggies make it clear children are welcome.
In fact, the alehouse doesn't serve hard liquor, and it closes at midnight, because it courts sociable families, not hard-core drinkers.
Instead of darts and pool, the brewpub throws a kids appreciation day, sponsors youth soccer teams, plays their game films and sells children's T-shirts.
"I think our communities are starved for these opportunities," said co-owner Todd Carden." In the old days, ... you hung out with your kids." 

With expectations high for the new pub and brewhouse, we decided to drop in for lunch at the location in Burien recently to see what may be coming to our neighborhood.

The business core around the Burien location is more developed than our business core. It is near a major transit hub, across from the Burien Library and near Town Square Park. There seemed to be some similarities to our business core but downtown Burien was far more developed and had more modern urban amenities.

The main strip along SW 152nd Street has many small businesses in what appeared to be a high traffic and highly-walkable area. The brewery was across the street from a Grocery Outlet. There were a few other pubs and restaurants nearby. A Grand Central Bakery location and a few coffee shops were other businesses that stood out during our trip there. A nearby Trader Joes also grabbed our attention.

The brewhouse was warm and inviting. When our server found out we were from the Lake City area she showed her excitement about the brewhouse opening in our neck of the woods.

Now what we write here should not be seen as a restaurant review. Those typically take multiple visits and the ordering of many different dishes. Our experience was limited to one visit on a weekend afternoon. If you want to read reviews, Yelp has a thorough selection of opinions on the Burien location. After 105 reviews the site lists the business as having 4 out of 5 stars. (To really understand online ratings and opinions, stars should be ignored and the review text actually read.)

But during our trip we did find the food to be quite good.

Our party of four ordered the Blackened ahi with spinach and smoked mozzerella salad. We also ordered the Imperial ruben and a Cheeseburger with french fries. All were fantastic. In fact our only complaint about the food was that the serving sizes could have been smaller and the corresponding price lowered —especially after we also ate the towering Sweet potato gaufrettes as an appetizer.

Our server pointed out that the menu at the Lake City location will likely be different than the Burien location. However you can browse their menu here.

The sampler
We also tried the beer sampler (after all, it is a brewery). The sampler included five of their most popular beers. Five were well-regarded and one was deemed a bit too bitter —but no one in our party particularly liked bitter beer.

The brewmaster is obviously a master of his craft. A few of the brews were fantastic and alone could make us return as regular customers.

Our bill for a family of four (two children) came to about $50. If we would have ordered from the Happy Hour menu it would have been much less but the food selection on that menu was limited. And since we were visiting from the north end of King County we figured we'd order what we really wanted —it was worth it.

It wasn't quite as inexpensive as our meager pocketbooks had hoped, but as stated earlier, the portion size and corresponding price could be smaller. However, the price we paid did not sting as much because the food, beer and service were so good.

Another element of the business that has many excited is the impact they have had on the communities where they have opened. A former employee told us that it was an enjoyable place to work and that the owners practiced what they preached in regards to their socially responsible business practices. They are highly-regarded in the business communities where they are located. From their website:
Over the past thirteen years in West Seattle, Elliott Bay Brewery & Pub has been a leader in sustainability, philanthropic support, and instrumental in creating an amazing sense of community in the neighborhoods which it serves.  Elliott Bay Brewhouse and Pub, the company's second brewpub, opened in Burien in March of 2007. The Burien Brewhouse, like its West Seattle sibling, supports a progressive company culture and socially responsible business practices.
The Burien location offers a happy hour every day from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and from 10 p.m. to close. They also offer a weekend brunch from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The most recent update from the owners says they are hoping to open the Lake City location by the end of March.

Below is a map showing the location of the Burien pub.

View Larger Map

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