Beyond the Bloody Mary
If brunch is the new dinner—that makes 11 a.m. the new cocktail hour. Hello, hair of the dog
Fine-dining restaurants, once shuttered until suppertime, are now serving elegant morning riffs on eggs and toast … and spiffing up their drinks accordingly.
How spiffy? At MistralKitchen ($; brunch 11–2 Sat–Sun; 2020 Westlake Ave.; 206/623-1922), the newest venture from four-star chef William Belickis, that means lavender bitters, housemade ginger beer, and a cocktail list that includes the Bloody Ophelia, made with Aquavit, a touch of Scotch, and, in lieu of that celery stalk, a garnish of smoked trout.
What makes a cocktail suitable for waffles? Kathy Casey, whose Seattle company Liquid Kitchen develops drinks for restaurants worldwide, says brunch brings out booze’s lighter side, naturally encouraging fresh fruit juices and bubblies. Here’s a look at some of our favorite spots to drink well and eat well while the sun is high.
Seth Caswell, a chef leader in the city’s farm-to-table movement, planned to name his new place Emmer, after the ancient grain now gaining fans for its nutritional value. But then he added a nod to rye whiskey and the “unique flavor and punch” it lends cocktails. The restaurant, in a restored Victorian, uses local ingredients, down to the wild nettles in the omelet and the cider (spiked with vodka).
A.M. pairing: Farro Fries (creamy, polenta-like batons piled with wild mushrooms and poached eggs) and a Cosmopolitan made with a tincture of the same grain. $; 9–2 Sat–Sun; 1825 Queen Anne Ave. N.; 206/282-0680.
The Corson Building
The season influences every aspect of the rustic-refined brunch buffet here, from the housemade syrups in the Kir Royale (quince, on our visit) to the vegetables and fruits in the salads on a wooden sideboard. Ingredients often come from the well-tended garden and chicken coop, which make the restaurant a true oasis in an otherwise gritty section of town.
A.M. pairing: When available, the Middle Eastern mint tea spiked with anise-flavored arrack provides a sweet finish with the buffet’s almond meringues. $$$; 9:30–2 Sun except during special events; closed Mon–Wed; 5609 Corson Ave. S.; 206/762-3330.
Neighbors mix with industry insiders at this remodeled Craftsman bungalow, where chef-owner Maria Hines pioneered the fine-dining brunch.
A.M. pairing: A Jamaican Champagne Cocktail, warmly scented with clove, cinnamon, and pink peppercorns, with hash made from locally caught salmon, and eggs perfectly poached in a high-tech warming bath. $; 10–2 Sat–Sun; 1411 N. 45th St.; 206/633-0801.
The menu is short—10 entrées and 4 cocktails—but spans a range of tastes. It’s all fresh-made, down to the locally produced Worcestershire. Best of all, it’s reasonably priced. Morning drinks are aimed at morning palates, with pulpy fresh-squeezed juices and effervescent sodas and tonics, and enough body to balance out hearty dishes like the bone-in ham steak. The saimin, a Hawaiian classic, could feed a crowd. It’s an enormous bowl of savory broth, house-smoked pork belly, and fish cakes. And, yes, the cooks even roll out their own noodles.
A.M. pairing: A sparkling Grapefruit Cooler of juice, orange-flavored Lillet, and wine is a refreshing counterpart to the hefty Hangtown Fry or housemade corned beef hash. For Bloody Mary loyalists, Spring Hill’s is practically a meal in itself, accompanied by a spear of pickled vegetables and a piece of mortadella. $; 10–2 Sat–Sun; 4437 California Ave. S.W.; 206/935-1075.
The bar occupies prime real estate at this homage to the French Quarter of the Big Easy. Daylight filters through hundreds of glass panes in the floor-to-ceiling columnar windows, illuminating inlaid-wood tables and wrought-iron chandeliers. Bartenders are heavy hitters who have made a name around town for concoctions like the Breakfast Flip, a combination of bacon-flavored vodka, vanilla liquor, Irish cream, and maple syrup. (It tastes a bit like Bailey’s.)
A.M. pairing: The Toulouse Milk Punch (a N’awlins classic: bourbon, brandy, milk, vanilla, honey syrup, nutmeg) is perfect with hot, puffy beignets, sugar-dusted and dipped in chicory crème anglaise. $; 9–2:30; 601 Queen Anne Ave. N.; 206/432-9069.