Here’s something you didn’t expect me to tell you: If Samir Hassan—the Brazilian restaurateur behind shuttered establishments All Nations in Bitter Lake and, before that, Samba in Maple Leaf—can find a way to source piranhas, he’ll offer piranha soup on the menu at his new bar in Ballard.
“It’s delicious!” Hassan assured me. “And supposedly an aphrodisiac. Actually, piranha has two meanings in Brazil. It could be a fish, it could be a really slutty girl.” (He says lots of awesome stuff like that.)
In addition to piranha soup, the Brazilian-seafood menu at Paratii Craft Bar will include the classic stew vatapá. Hassan wants to feature specialties from all over his native land; the task of executing these falls on Kal Gellein, whose cooking you may have experienced at the now-defunct Kallaloo in Columbia City. There will also be an all-you-can-eat happy hour food buffet featuring hams, sausages, and other meats—all sourced from Chicago.
Despite all his talk of food, Hassan cautions that Paratii is not, first and foremost, a restaurant. It is, rather, “an imbibing palace.”
“My bartenders are the star of the show,” says Hassan, who has hired five ’tenders for the project: Michael Kostin, Pepe Castillo (who also works at Canlis), Jeshua Madden, John Star Gilmer of 1022 South in Tacoma, and Cynthia Delancey,
both formerly of 1022.
The star of the back bar will be cachaca, a rum-like spirit from Brazil that anchors the caipirinha cocktail. When you order a caipirinha at Paratii, a bartender will come make it for you at your table, as if this were a fancy steak house and you’d ordered a Caesar salad instead of a mixed drink of cachaca, lime, and sugar. Order an absinthe, and you’ll get your own tableside louching too.
Twelve on-tap beers will include brews from the great Black Raven Brewing in Redmond, and Hassan says he’s working with Big Al Brewing to create a special house beer named “Tangerine Dream.” He’s also talking to a local kombucha-maker about offering his boozier version of that drink. House-made infusions are another focus—apple-cinnamon rye whiskey among them.
The only beverage that Paratii does not celebrate, it seems, is vodka. Hassan disdains it. “It’s an excuse to get drunk without tasting the spirits,” said the restaurateur, who will nonetheless keep about five bottles on hand.
Hassan plans to open Paratii on Tuesday, April 26 at 5463 Leary Ave NW, the space inhabited most recently by Ballard Best BBQ and, before that, Chai House.