Over the weekend, Vietnamese restaurant The Signature closed its doors, to be reborn this week as Red Papaya Ale and Spirits. The owners are combining two staples of Seattle’s eating and drinking scene that don’t commonly fraternize: Asian food and microbrews.
Owners Gene Sens and Jacque Nguyen brought in Jay Fisher, a former brewer who previously owned Dog and Pony Alehouse in Renton, to manage Red Papaya and help guide its reinvention. Red Papaya’s menu retains some Signature favorites, including noodle and rice dishes and a solid pho. New pub-ified items will have “some kind of Asian flair,” says Fisher, like a catfish version of fish and chips, battered with panko and served with an Asian slaw.
Vietnamese food “is definitely the backbone” of the menu, says Fisher. Obviously the kitchen’s prior incarnation makes that a logical decision, but Fisher says the cuisine’s French influence makes it especially versatile and pub-friendly. “There’s not another Asian cuisine that has a sandwich.”
Red Papaya will have 18 taps, three will be occupied by wine, and another by cider. Fisher’s an IPA devotee, so expect a heavy rotation. Draft beers will be largely from the Northwest, as well as California and Colorado, and the staff will be able to guide you to a beer selection that pairs well with that noodle bowl or a dish flavored with sweet Thai chilies. Come to think of it, a brothy bowl of pho and a craft beer sounds like a lovely (if highly liquid) combination.
Fisher plans to make Red Papaya a destination for beer dinners, brewer nights, and other crafty happenings. For beer purists, the alehouse will have cans of Asian staples like Saigon 33. The spirits offerings will be heavy on Washington distillers. The alehouse will be open for lunch and dinner. The owners were shooting for a Wednesday reopen, but as always, such predictions are always uncertain. You can monitor the Facebook page for updates.