The street level of the True North apartment building at the corner of Aloha and Dexter is a wall of windows, being cleaned for the first time as workers maneuver slabs of wood through propped open doors.
From the outside, it could be a new (albeit large) Starbucks in the final stages of construction. But rather than something so banal, this burgeoning section of South Lake Union gets the immensely creative food and beer collaboration known as Mollusk.
Chef Travis Kukull and brewer Cody Morris of SoDo's beloved yet closet-sized Gastropod/Epic Ales are set to open Saturday October 31, hopefully in time to serve turmeric coconut butternut biscuits and custard-stuffed brioche steam buns for brunch.
The new space is massive—over 5,000 square feet with room to seat 100 for brunch, lunch, and dinner—compared to minuscule Gastropod. The entirety of the original brewpub could fit in the new dishwashing station here.
When it comes to the menu, the same amount of ambition we saw at Gastropod will go into both the food and the beer. "We could have done something easy," says Kukull. "We chose not to."
The menu centers around a trio of curries, but expands beyond Southeast Asian influence with dishes like crispy black skin cod to duck confit with honey mussels. Kukull says he's also been experimenting with more modernist stuff—"You might see a foam."
Miles James, the former owner of Dot's, manages the kitchen during the day. Look for the currywurst at lunchtime, a stuffed sausage that pays tribute to James's extensive background in charcuterie. The staff of 40 also includes Kim Sturts (originally slated to replace Kukull at Gastropod) as chef de cuisine and Tanya Huang (formerly of Tilikum Place Cafe) in the role of pastry chef.
The teched-out seven-barrel brewery will supply the 16-tap bar of 12 beers, two ciders, and two house-made sodas. While he still plans to experiment, Morris will also have a few "normal" brews on tap. On his list so far are a rye-based cream ale collaboration with Snipes Mountain Brewhouse, a zweijel pilsner, and a schwartz black lager. Morris has 70 kegs brewed in anticipation of the opening, assuming the license comes through by Saturday.
The duo had hoped to keep Gastropod running alongside Mollusk, but a helping of local bureaucracy forced them out of their lease last month. They pay respect to their first venture in both aesthetic and name, incorporating wood and shades of red in the decor, and choosing a moniker that is a natural extension of the bivalve theme (it also happens to be a song from one of their favorite bands). Two walls feature Pacific Northwest-themed murals painted by Kukull's sister Megan.
Kukull was turning out octopus okonomiyaki and foraged nettle pesto with a butane burner at Gastropod; let's see what he can do with a full-sized kitchen.