[happy hour] coastal kitchen

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You know you’re a Seattleite when you return from a vacation and you crave one of two things: a burger from Dick’s Drive-In or oysters. On this particular occasion, I wanted oysters which is particularly unusual because I don’t even really like them, but upon touchdown at SeaTac, I knew that an oyster happy hour was in my immediate future.

Naturally, I consulted my own list of the best oyster spots in town and settled on Coastal Kitchen because it was nearby and one of my 2013 goals is to start visiting the 15th Avenue retail district of Capitol Hill more often. It’s only a mere four blocks from my apartment but for some reason (it’s up a giant hill) I don’t get much further than the Safeway – but there are like a dozen of great bars and restaurants packed into 3 or 4 blocks and I rarely go.

Coastal Kitchen has been around for like 20 years or something ridiculous. It used to be part of Chow Foods, included The 5 Spot Cafe on top of Queen Anne, Endolyne Joe’s in West Seattle, the Hi-Life in Ballard and Atlas Foods in the U-Village. Each of those restaurants would feature a menu from a different region of the world, and it would change several times a year. For one visit you might be dining in Greece, and a few weeks later you might be enjoying food from Brazil. Kind of a cool idea, but also kind of confusing and inconsistent. Regardless, the partnering owners split up, with one of them taking all of those aforementioned restaurants EXCEPT the Coastal Kitchen, resulting in a Coastal Kitchen makeover – now it’s shiny and new and improved.

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Too much background! Let’s talk about happy hour:

Early happy hour is from 3-6pm and there’s more of an emphasis on discounted beverages than food, which was slightly disappointing. I mean, I was really only there for oysters – but it was  annoying to see $3 oysters and a $7 salad on the same limited menu as some $15 crab cakes. Apparently this is because the only person who puts out food during the time in between lunch and dinner is the oyster shucker.

However, if you return for late-night happy hour (from 10pm-close), you can enjoy fish tacos, salt cod fritters, a burger and deep-fried cherry bomb peppers for $5-$9.

We ordered Manhattans to start, as well as a half-dozen oysters – three different varieties. Our bartender helped us choose which ones were best, and they were served with a champagne mignonette which I think might have been what I was actually really truly craving. Then, because we felt we needed something else, we ordered a seaweed and calamari salad that totally shocked us when it arrived. It was a brightly colored bed of purple and green seaweed with bright yellow rings of calamari. A really beautiful plate that was also delicious, but not at all what we were expecting. (I don’t really know what we expected… but it wasn’t that.)

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We switched over to happy hour wine that was priced at $4 a glass. I had a long night of drinking ahead of me and so I chose their white wine which turns out was a Brown Box chardonnay — it was kind of painful to order a second glass but I did so nonetheless… at least it’s local to the PNW?

In the future, I will time my visit to coincide with dinner and late-night happy hour, if I’m in the mood for anything other than just oysters, but I was pleased with the service, the boozy beverages and the overall ambiance of the restaurant. They did a nice job with the facelift and it’s a fun and lively spot off the beaten path on Capitol Hill. I ate more oysters on that particular evening than I think I have ever eaten in my entire life (6, total) and I left sated.

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