• HOURS: 3-6pm daily
• PRICES: Tap beers $4, tap wines $6. Small plates $1-$12
On a bright spring evening, Seatown Seabar feels like precisely the best place to be in Seattle.
From the vantage point of the bar you can take it all in: servers shucking big, bumpy oysters and toasting half-lemons with creme-brule torches, bartenders straining tawny concoctions into cocktail glasses, and their customers beyond them, chatty and buzzy and pleased with themselves for scoring a spot at this Sound-view boasting, bustling creation just north of Pike Place Market.
The first time I encountered this fetching scene, I was surprised. Last time I had been to the Tom Douglas restaurant, it had been a gray, wet winter afternoon, and Seabar felt grim. Its back of the house, on that occasion, seemed rather too exposed, like when you visit a sick friend and get a look at her indoors-only sweatpants. The design—big open bar claiming most of the floor space, tables framing it on three sides, two walls of windows—makes it feels more like a sun porch than an enclosed room. Whatever mood is created by the climatological conditions outside becomes magnified inside, setting the tone for the meal.
But back to happy hour: The menu focuses on smoked and cured fish ($6-$8, or $12 for a sampler). There’s trout, sturgeon, ling cod, and king salmon—if you’re sharing that salmon, prepare to fight over it. All of these come with slices of baguette, so no need to order bread separately. Also on each plate: plugra, a French-style butter sprinkled with black lava salt, and a tomato-parsley salad. The idea is to combine these things to create wee fishy sandwiches.
There’s also a cheese plate with Tin Willow Tomme from Black Sheep Creamery, and rotating oysters for $1 a pop. The suggested pairing for the oysters is a 2009 Michel Delhommeau muscadet, an uncomplicated wine with the right acidity for the occasion. But to my mind the perfect Seatown Seabar drink is Syncline’s unassailable rose, which the restaurant keeps on tap. A little spicy with a lovely dry finish, it’s a great food wine whose pretty pinkness only enhances the happy factor of a sunny evening at Seatown Seabar.