I was squinting to read a loosely-labeled comprehensive selection of house-made liqueurs when a pair of plaid-clad portly gentlemen begrudgingly straddled two stools at the bartop next to me at Woodinville, Wash.’s new Hollywood Tavern. “Got any light beer?” one of them requests from our bartender, almost revealing his patronizing sneer he thought he kept private for his buddy. The keep perks up and smiles, popping a bottle of Michelob Ultra for his counter guest—he also had a pounder of PBR to recommend as well and Olympia on tap. “We might not be what all the locals are used to,” says Mi-Suk Ahn, Hollywood Tavern general manager and Seattle bar industry vet. “But we are going to give them the best service and they’ll come back.”
Ahn’s support is in regards to the latest addition of Seattle chef-restauranteur Josh Henderson’s swelling roster of restaurants, titled the Huxley Wallace Collective. Most recently, Henderson’s team overhauled Woodinville’s 85-year-old Mabel’s tavern notorious for its “light beer,” pull tabs and hot dogs to build a gentrified roadhouse, the Hollywood Tavern. Respectfully, the Hollywood Tavern nods to the original tavern’s posture (the bones of the bar are from Mabel’s, the bright and homey interior frames photos of the tavern in 1927, a zinging neon sign lights up the night reading “TAVERN”) and preaches a philosophy that honors the rich agricultural scene of Woodinville with fresh, local goods. With spring plans of bringing out the lawn games, fire pits and expanding outdoor seating, the concept condoles with the community and elevates with selection and service for brunch, lunch and dinner.
The beverage menu is modest, offering six draft beers like Seattle’s Georgetown Brewing Roger’s pilsner, Edmonds, Wash.’s American Brewing oatmeal stout and nearby Redmond, Wash.’s Black Raven Brewing Co. Trickster India pale ale and includes a supply of “good things in bottles” stashed below in fridges. With a magnified flagship location of Woodinville Whiskey Co. erecting next door, these new kids on the block play nice and incorporate their beer-loving tavern vibe with whiskey, like their “Whiskied Stout” beer cocktail (whiskey, oatmeal stout, house-made walnut liqueur, rimmed with sarsaparilla and served down in a rocks glass) and wine like Woodinville natives DiStefano Winery‘s Sauvignon Blanc and the D2 red blend by DeLille Cellars.
Executive chef Angie Roberts’ grub isn’t all glorified pub grub per say, offering bites like crispy and light buttermilk fried pickles with varying dipping sauces, boiled peanuts with Southern spice seasoning and an effusively juicy meatball sandwich for the more apprehensive eater. However, to appease the city-slicking self-proclaimed foodies, Roberts’ menu sports a pot of sweet chicken liver mousse and a grilled piece of bread to scrap out any stragglers, a chopped kale salad tossed with golden raisins, crunchy pops of pita coasted in tahini then laid to rest on a healthy dollop of hummus and the divine trinity combination of salty, sweet and spicy chicken wings topped with peanuts, toasted garlic and cilantro. Dessert comes in a few forms, but the warm malted hazelnut milk chocolate cookies that sensationally melt the house-made soft serve ice cream are not to be missed.
Yes, gastronomes, you have died and gone to Woodinville.
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