Checking In on Good Bar in Pioneer Square
Menu details, drink details, and a mea culpa on that sloppy joe hype.
Now that Mike Easton's Pizzeria Gabbiano is plying crowds of lunchers with pizza by the kilo, let us shift our attention just around the corner, to another exciting newcomer in the 114-year-old Pacific Commercial Bank at Second and Main.
Here, at 240 Second Ave S Good Bar is taking shape. The shorthand on this place is it's a cocktail bar from Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison, the ladies behind Marination Mobile, Station, Ma Kai, et al. But that doesn't get at what's happening here. A themeless (yet excellent) bar was the longtime plan of Josh Kelly, a droll dude with aspiring Sideshow Bob hair. He was head chef for all things Marination before Edison and Saxton offered to partner with he and his wife Nancy to make that dream happen. Along the way they secured one of the most stunning spaces I've seen in a while, a former bank complete with soaring columns, a mezzanine, and a pair of working vault doors.
Kelly spent six years at Dahlia Lounge before moving on to places like the Swinery, the Tin Table, and Quinn's. The quirks of an old building put the kibosh on a fryer or open flames, so Kelly went about designing a bar menu that's all about low heat: baked oysters, potted, braised, or roasted meats, and salads and roast vegetable dishes made with local produce. Diners can order cheese and charcuterie by the ounce, fashioning their own custom meat and cheese boards. And let me be clear: There is zero crossover with the Marination menu.
The kitchen is small but wide open, making Kelly and his crew part of the proceedings in the main room. "I'm going to be spending 18 hours a day here. I want to be basically hanging out at the bar, too," he says.
So, about that sloppy joe. When word got out about Good Bar, details were scant and writers (myself decidely included) clung to any specifics we could dredge from the partners. An offhand mention of a sloppy joe ricocheted around the interwebs until it was enshrined in the lore of Good Bar. Kelly decided to embrace the frenzy, he's playing around with a version dressed with a fennel and mustard slaw.
The marble-topped horseshoe bar surrounding the old bank vault doors will dispense classic cocktails, says Kelly, properly prepared and devoid of any liberties or stylistic flourishes: "If somebody's been ordering a Manhattan for 30 years, I want it to taste the same here." He's yet to hire a bar manager, but that person will presumably put a personal stamp on the house cocktail list. Chris Tanghe—now a free agent, but presumably not for long—helped with the wine list, and nine of the 10 beer taps will rotate constantly says Kelly. (The 10th? "We'll always have Manny's.")
Good Bar will have about 70 seats, many tucked upstairs in the mezzanine, which sports a lovely view of Waterfall Garden Park.
Right now opening looks like October, though with a building this old, plus the usual uncertainties surrounding such things, that can easily change.