When Dan Bugge took over Matt’s in the Market nearly six years ago, the former fishmonger kept the name bestowed by original chef Matt Janke and carried on the restaurant’s tradition of celebrating the produce and proteins that flow into Pike Place Market with each new season. Now he's planning a cocktail bar that's entirely his own creation, the sort of spot he envisioned when he first thought about opening his own place.
Come January, the former architect office space right across the hall from the restaurant will be known as Radiator Whiskey. The 48-seat watering hole will be dedicated to the pursuit of brown liquors, from Scotch to bourbon to rye. Bugge is working with newcomer 2Bar Spirits to create a house whiskey.
Pairing with these spirits—a pub food menu that's heavy on smoked meats and smoked fish, courtesy of Tyler Palagi. Dining nerds might know Palagi from his time at cooking Union, Smith, Spring Hill, and on Vashon Island. Bugge and Palagi spent the past year looking for a spot where they could work together; when a space opened up mere feet from his own restaurant, Bugge must have been profoundly thankful they didn't pull the trigger on those spaces in West Seattle and Capitol Hill. Charles Garrison, who has run Matt's lunchtime program for the past five years, is also working on the menu at Radiator.
A large butcher block will hold court in the center of the room. It's a place where the chefs can set down a leg of lamb or other massive meat cut, says Bugge, and "just whack at it right there on the board" with a cleaver. Nontraditional cuts of meat, a house-ground burger with bone marrow, and good pie for dessert are also reasonable expectations when Radiator opens in late January. The other focal point of the industrial, butchery-styled space will be the business end of a 14-foot whiskey barrel behind the bar, with a number of spigots that will dispense whiskeys at different stages of maturity.
Though Bugge is geeking out about barrel-aged cocktails, a flask club with a literary bent, and whiskey flights, he doesn't intend Radiator to be a highfalutin place. "We love the brown liquor, but we're not experts at it," he explained last night via phone, standing in the new space and taking in its resplendent view of the Deja Vu marquee across the street. "We want everybody to learn and we want it to be very approachable for people."
Radiator will open at noon and roll through the nighttime drinking hours. Bugge and Palagi are still working on hiring a bar manager, but you can track Radiator's progress on Facebook (and, someday, on this website).