For Seattleites, few things are worth battling northbound I5 traffic plus the clogging of cars on Lake City Way. The latest addition to that very, very shortlist of items is Seaplane Kitchen & Bar in Kenmore, Chef Jason Stoneburner’s new pizza-inclined restaurant and bar tucked into a sophisticated build of new businesses in the lakeside town northeast of Seattle.
Thankfully for urbanites and locals alike, Seaplane — named for the many waterborne aircrafts that come in and out of Kenmore’s harbor — speaks both suburb and city fluently, spotlighting a menu that both cultures can swallow. Seaplane aptly joins its Seattle brethren of Stoneburner-led kitchens in the Deming Maclise and James Weimann restaurant portfolio.
Bright and airy with all the nautical-flight accoutrements you’d expect in the décor — from wood-panel ceilings to canoe oars and a big “Learn to Fly Here” sign hanging over the bar — Seaplane is prepared to host city and suburb with its 150 seats in the dining room and bar (plus 50 on the patio). The bar is broad and welcoming, while the dining room — including a separate area for parents to eat and enjoy while kids go to town in a play pen with chalkboard — is just as spacy and inviting.
Since drink with a side of food is the drill at Sip Northwest, a recent happy hour visit made us realize — and need to recommend — how much bang for our buck we could get during this two-and-a-half-hour window of joyous imbibement and gluttony. Here are a few of our favorite things.
1) The draft list is killer.
As part of the bar program handcrafted by Erik Carlson — the Bastille and Stoneburner bar manager that took up co-ownership at Seaplane — a dozen drafts regularly rotate while nearly all of them are available during happy hour for $5-6 (a steal these days…). All but one beer (and cider) are from Washington and Oregon, like Holy Mountain’s White Lodge Belgian wit and Reuben’s Brews’ porter. This also includes three handles for tap wine, served by the glass and carafe.
2) Cocktails are $7.
Nine different concoctions are shaken or stirred during happy hour, including classics like a (real) Daiquiri and French 75 to Fancy Bubbles #2 (Curacao, pomegranate, sparkling wine, lemon zest) and Godfather Punch (rye, lemon, orange, ginger). Admittedly these are singles for that price point, but Carlson’s well-executed bar plan caters to the flavors of each liquor used, as well as the accompanying ingredients, regardless of strength or size. In other words, these cocktails aren’t skimping on quality or consideration.
3) Local wines are on point.
Maclise & Weimann restaurants’ main wine squeeze, sommelier James Lechner, takes the reigns at Seaplane, too, putting a heightened focus on local wines considering the restaurant’s proximity to Woodinville Wine Country. (Note: this happy hour visit proved Woodinville Wine Country also supports the restaurant, in which we saw three different winemakers and association members happily sipping juice.)
Empty bottles made their way to the ceiling racks overhead diners in the bar, safely secured and displaying what was and is on the list, like Two Vintners Grenache and Nelms Road Chardonnay. For draft wines, guests can opt for a glass ($5) or a 600-milliliter carafe ($16) of wines like Coopers Hall Oregon rosé and Airfield’s Yakima Valley Merlot.
4) Oh yeah, there’s delicious food.
Two words: garlic knots. Though not technically on the happy hour menu, this is a must-order item. A classic pizzeria snack, these garlic knots are strips of pizza dough tied and baked into a knot, then topped with butter, garlic and herbs. Elevated to the next level at Seaplane, three generous knots are served next to a whopping dollop of house-made whipped ricotta holding a pool of olive oil.
Back to happy hour items, be sure to order the sumptuous, just-crispy cauliflower florets — topped with green onions and served on a bed of harissa yogurt — and the roasted beet salad, in which four whole beets are quartered and plopped on a puree of avocado, basil and chives drizzled in a smoked chili vinaigrette.
And, of course, the pizzas. Happy hour touts half a dozen pizzas (just missing three from the main dinner menu) with a variety of routes to take, from the Commuter (red sauce, mozzarella, olive oil and basil) to the Drift (sofrito, shaved brussels sprouts, fennel sausage, peppers and fresh mozzarella).
Go with the namesake: the Seaplane balances rooftop honey from sister restaurant Bastille with pickled serrano, double pepperoni, fresh mozzarella and red sauce like it was born to. Go eat pizza in Kenmore like you were born to.