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First Look: VESSEL

17-Nov-2006

 

There’s a new, upscale cocktail and wine lounge in town. A place where attention is paid to every little detail. VESSEL opened its doors about a month ago, officially a couple of weeks ago. On Wednesday I finally had a chance to check it out.

You may remember that earlier this summer I visited Lumière in Vancouver, BC. At that time the bar manager, Jamie, told me he was working on a project in Seattle and I had been waiting for it to open ever since. Well, now it’s open and it was worth the wait.

The cocktail menu is a mix of classic cocktails and new libations created by Jamie. Right now, while building a full repertoire, the menu is being updated every couple of weeks but at some point that will settle down to more of a seasonal change. There is a nice mix of serious cocktails and everyone will find something that meets their taste. The pours are generous – sized to the Canadian standard instead of US – and the well spirits are premium brands. As they should be! (I never understand why higher-end bars and restaurants have anything in the well that they wouldn’t be proud to offer.)

In addition to the cocktails, VESSEL boasts nine sparkling wines by the glass and several more in splits (perfect for sharing or for a couple of glasses on your own), as well as another dozen or so full bottles. The still wine menu offers nearly thirty wines by the glass or the 1/2 bottle. The wines offered are a thoughtful assortment from around the globe.

As you might expect there is also a nice list of premium spirits, brandy, port and sherry, too.

The food menu consists entirely of small plates. While the menu is limited there is good diversity in tastes and in substance. You’ll find everything from a plate with almonds, olives and prosciutto wrapped figs to lamb ragu with herbed potato gnocchi. The food menu will also be changing seasonally.

On Wednesday, R and I sampled several cocktails and a couple of the small plates. I started with a VESSEL 75 (I have a rule that I always sample food or beverages with the space’s name.) Now the description for this cocktail included a reference to foam – something I’m not all that fond of. (A year or so ago while visiting New York it seemed that everything was "foamed" and it was just too silly!) But now I see how foam can be used to both enhance and beautify a cocktail. Used judiciously it can be an asset. We also sampled the Rubicon (seen being prepared in the photo above), the Frick Cocktail and a wine and bourbon cocktail, currently not on the menu and whose name has slipped my mind. I’d order any/all of these drinks again.

Everything was prepared expertly and with care and it was fun to watch them being created before our eyes.

We also sampled the Croque Monsieur Petit Sandwiches – the only problem with those was I wished there were more of them! – and the Ahi Tuna Tartare. The Ahi was fresh and nearly buttery.

Starting tonight they will be instituting a Happy Hour from 4 – 6. Details were still being finalized but it looks like there will be a couple of sparklers by the glass and well drinks for $4 and a few of the small plates will also be offered at a reduced price.

Located in a space next to the 5th Avenue Theater the space looks small from the street but also includes a nice-size second floor area. The furniture is modern but there may be some changes afoot to bring in a bit more softness, encouraging you to linger longer.

VESSEL
1312 Fifth Ave (next to the 5th Avenue Theater)
Seattle
Tuesday – Saturday
 
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