The new Tankard and Tun restaurant, which sits atop the subterranean maze-like Pike Brewing Co. pub in downtown Seattle, is proof you can teach an old dog new tricks. The 27-year-old brewery unveiled the street-level restaurant in July, and simultaneously took one giant leap into 21st century craft beerdom.
The ambitious new project has several components: a restaurant, oyster bar, private dining space and brewery cellar. It all stands in sharp contrast to the tchotchke- and memorabilia-filled pub below. Tankard and Tun instead skews modern, with clean lines, exposed steel beams and plenty of white subway tile. Glass walls offer glimpses into the kitchen and the brew deck’s mash tuns. A narrow walkway bypassing the kitchen and connecting two dining spaces is lined with co-owner Charles Finkel’s staggering personal collection of tankard drinkware, which was previously stashed away in his attic.
The long-respected brewery, which has put out solid beer long before most other craft breweries in the area were glimmers in their mustachioed brewers’ eyes, amps up its beer program with the new addition. The top level space adds on to the gravity-fed system with six new fermentation tanks, allowing for additional brewing capacity of a range of Pike favorites, plus experimental and offbeat brews.
The food, too, is a departure from the downstairs pub grub menu. Chef Gabe Spiel is a fan of local seafood, foraged ingredients and locally grown produce, so the menu feels very Northwest of-the-moment, with a slightly upscale tilt. A recent visit included a heap of salty sea beans, complemented with preserved lemon and Washington-caught albacore with parsley pesto and an unexpected garnish of pickled hop shoots. Snapper, fried whole and curled around a heap of lightly-dressed arugula, literally turned heads as the server carried it through the dining room.
A raw oyster bar is front and center, and Spiel serves regional varieties with, recently, a huckleberry mignonette. The kitchen expects to change the menu seasonally.
With each dish, the menu suggests two beer pairings: one to complement the flavors of each bite, and one to contrast them. Beer is served in stemmed Teku glasses, which are thought to accentuate aromas and flavors. A cocktail list includes two beer-based concoctions, further proof that Tankard and Tun hopes to take Pike brewing to new heights.