Capitol Cider plans to open its doors in about two weeks, bringing cider (and beer), and a naturally gluten-free menu to the Hill’s masses at 818 Pike Street. “What I’m trying to create here is basically a nice neighborhood pub,” says Spencer Reilly, owner and home cider brewer. The upstairs area shows off the bone structure some might remember from its days as Fetherston Gallery, with high ceilings, muted grey walls, and naval-themed paintings. Downstairs houses two shuffleboard tables, a mural of one hell of a bar brawl, and plenty of space for drinking/hang time. Think if Von Trapp's and the Bait Shop had a baby, but more Old World English than German, and the fish and chips are battered in cider and rice flour.
Here are five reasons to get excited about Capitol Cider. The date isn’t official yet, but be ready in about two weeks. Hours are seven days a week from 4 to 2am, with brunch hours in the near future.
Cheerio, it feels like a real English-style pub. You know how pubs just have that feel, like you could sit for hours drinking and chatting with your friends? The big, dark wooden booths lining the dining area are padded and cozy for just such occasions. You can reasonably expect to be plied with pub grub and lots to drink, and a Mason and Hamlin piano from 1906 sits downstairs just asking for an old English sing-along of ancient naval tunes. If you happen to know any.
The menu is gluten-free, but let's not get all sanctimonious about it. “We’re not technically a gluten-free restaurant, because we serve beer, but we are highlighting food that happens to naturally not have wheat in it,” Reilly says, “It’s giving the small percentage of the population that’s celiac, and the greater part that’s gluten intolerant, a place that they can go and not be poisoned, but everyone else can enjoy it too.” The menu items will be made in house, no prepackaged frozen foods or imitations of pasta or bread.
Cider is delicious. And there will likely be a few you’ve never tried, what with 100 offerings in the bottle (available to go, as well). Anyone for a round of 99 bottles of cider on the wall—that sounds like a pub game, right? The English eatery is split-level, which means two bars, one on the main floor, the other in the basement. Each bar has 30 taps, pouring the same lineup of about 10 dedicated to cider and 18 to local brews, the other two will be for specialties like mead or wine. Phil Thompson, hailing from Tavern Law and the Coterie Room, is the bar manager and has a craft cocktail menu in the works. Let's see some cider-driven cocktails, Phil.
Those kinds of portraits that follow you with their eyes. A wise George Washington looks over the dining room from the bar, just one of the 18 paintings commissioned from aspiring artists . The pieces are reproductions of presidential portraits and nautical scenes created by members of the Gage Academy of Art. Each artist chose a classic piece to “copy” to better learn the ways of traditional techniques. Downstairs an original mural from local artist Tenold Sundberg depicts a bar brawl. The characters are apparently the artist’s friends; let’s hope patrons don’t try to recreate the scene.
You can bring your friends and play games. To add to the hangout vibe, there’s shuffleboard, chess and checkers tables, and board games on the way. The area is optimal for large groups and parties. With a lot new big beer halls coming in, it seems these days that bargoers roam in packs of six or more, so the 150 seats will most likely be filled and don’t be surprised to see lines out the door and around the corner.