Something good is brewing on the stadium sidelines
To the ancient Greeks, the Elysian Fields were a kind of heaven for the heroic, a joyous place filled with feasting, sport and song. More recent history pegs...
Special to The Seattle Times
To the ancient Greeks, the Elysian Fields were a kind of heaven for the heroic, a joyous place filled with feasting, sport and song. More recent history pegs them as the 19th-century birthplace of modern baseball in Hoboken, N.J. Now Seattle has its own Elysian Fields, Elysian Brewing Co.'s sprawling new restaurant, bar, brewery and art gallery, which opened in September hard by the hallowed grounds where our hometown heroes joust for immortality in the here and now.
Opposite Qwest Field and a short walk north of Safeco Field, the 10,000-square-foot Elysian Fields has a crowd capacity that's somewhat less than those neighboring arenas — a mere 466. On game days, patrons fill every last bar stool and booth. The staff scrambles to keep up, even with a limited menu.
When no event is scheduled nearby, this former warehouse is as underpopulated as the bleachers at Safeco when the Mariners are in the basement. But that affords plenty of opportunity to admire what renovation has wrought: hardwood floors, stained ceiling beams, a candle-lit cocktail lounge and comfortable dining areas front and back that bracket a huge, mosaic-tiled oval bar. Stunning original art hangs on the acres of wall space painted a soft patina shade, and it's all for sale (the exhibit changes monthly).
Envisioned as a destination restaurant, Elysian Fields has a broader, more ambitious menu than either of its siblings, the Elysian Brewing Co. on Capitol Hill or Elysian Tangletown in Wallingford. Here you'll find crab cakes and steamed shellfish, steaks and seafood, pastas, salads and panini sandwiches. Even with flawless execution, this is not a menu likely to lure many to this Pioneer Square venue.
542 First Ave. S., Seattle; 206-382-4498,
American/brewpub $$ /$$$
Hours: 11:30 a.m.- midnight daily.
Prices: Soups, salads, sandwiches $4-$15; shareable appetizers
$8-$12; lunch entrees $9-$17; dinner entrees $11-$28.
Drinks: Elysian Brewing Co. standards and
specialty brews, along with "guest" beers, are on tap. There's also a full bar and a short, well-rounded wine list.
Parking: On street or in nearby lots.
Sound: Like the
stadiums nearby, it's loud when packed,
pretty quiet otherwise.
Who should go: Ideal for pre- or post-game revels and suitable for the whole family.
Credit cards: All major ones accepted.
Access: No obstacles.
One Saturday, we arrived at 7 p.m. to a full house; by 7:30, ours was the only table occupied in the front dining room as, one by one, customers settled their checks and skedaddled to catch Van Morrison in concert.
Having the place to ourselves wasn't so bad. We transferred to one of the inviting booths that hug the wall and enjoyed having our waiter's undivided attention.
Start with soup or a salad, or one of several shareable appetizers, like the well-endowed "Oasis Platter," a Mediterranean medley that includes house-made hummus jolted with garlic and lemon; an equally pungent, seductively smoky baba ghanouj; cucumber and tomato salad; Kalamata olives; feta cheese; and Mama Lil's peppers.
Steamed clams and mussels proved harder to divvy up. They numbered barely a dozen in each bowl — and you'll want your fair share. The clams are blissful in a beer-based broth fragrant with garlic, shallots, tomato and basil; the mussels rock with chorizo, cilantro and Serrano chilies.
Entree prices climb as high as $28 for grilled beef tenderloin filet, $26 for a 12-ounce New York strip. Flat iron steak ($18) is a lower-priced and satisfying beef alternative, and so is steak frites ($15), a thin New York cut served with fries at lunch. But I'd put my money on pork tenderloin ($16), pan-roasted chicken ($15) or the hamburger ($10).
The burger is made with American Kobe-style ground beef. It's thick and charred on the outside, juicy and pink (as requested) inside, swabbed with an aioli-like sauce studded with hot pickled peppers. As with all sandwiches, you get a choice of soup or fries. The fries are great, but so was the soup du jour — a bright puree of carrot and ginger on one occasion; a velvety potato, bacon and caramelized-onion potage on another.
The chicken revealed boneless moist flesh under golden crisp skin. Half of a bird joined silky mashed potatoes and a heap of delicious cauliflower seared to a nutty sweetness. Tarragon flavored the rich pan juices.
Pork tenderloin exudes some heat, as if brined or rubbed with chilies. The meat is served sliced over pear and raisin chutney and fragrant stewed cranberry beans that together deliver a heady mix of clove, ginger and allspice — a salute to autumn that just begs for a schooner of Great Pumpkin Ale.
Elysian Brewing Co.'s beers make for great quaffing, but a plate of pasta (the menu offers four) demands a glass of wine. The short but varied wine list meets those needs nicely. A Spanish tempranillo paired well with pasta Arrabiatta, cappellini noodles in red sauce generously flecked with pancetta though a little lacking in red-pepper heat.
The kitchen sometimes drops the ball. Cheddar-cheese mashed potatoes are gluey; Dungeness crab cakes are gummy. A portobello-mushroom-stuffed panini at lunch carried a strong whiff of old grease.
Fumbles are most notable in the end zone: a mushy chocolate caramel cake devoid of caramel; chocolate "fondue" that is nothing more than a ramekin of chocolate sauce served with apple slices, marshmallow bits and a few shortbread cookies.
A dining destination? Not yet, but this is a team worth watching.
Providence Cicero: email@example.com
Oasis Platter $8
Pasta Arrabiatta $11
Pan-roasted chicken $15
Pork tenderloin $16
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
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