The theme is conquest and voracious curiosity at Seattle’s newest food + beer destination, Bell + Whete. This new eatery and drinkery opened last Saturday to the cheers of Belltown’s beer lovers, who watched patiently for the last few months as workers put the finishing touches on the new restaurant and bar.
Across the street from Mama’s Mexican Kitchen, at the corner of Bell Street and Second Avenue, Bell + Whete (pronounced bell and wheat) is a welcome addition to a neighborhood fruited with places to eat great food but surprisingly barren when it comes to places to drink great beer. There are, I think, 66 taps. Sure, the lineup includes some stuff from local breweries like Elysian, Fremont, and Fort George, but it also offers delectable treats from distant lands like Belgium, Scotland, Denmark, Germany, and even Canada.
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Last night I enjoyed a Blanche de Chambly from Unibroue and a Molotov Cocktail IPA from Evil Twin. Other things that may pique your interest include Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge and St. Bernardus Abt 12. On tap! For the time being, the menu only lists a couple dozen of the draft options: a complete beer menu, with beer descriptions and dozens of bottled beers, is forthcoming. Ask your server for suggestions or just peruse the tap handles for yourself.
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Beer Engineering 101
Trevor Suk, who we know from his time working for Bob Brenlin at Latona Pub and Fiddler’s Inn, greeted us and was happy to tell us about the beer program at Bell + Whete. He was understandably proud of the bar design and said that he thinks his mentor, Bob, would approve. The walk-in beer cooler backs the large L-shaped bar, which means the beer lines are exceptionally short: the distance from keg to tap is minimal. This design was no accident and offers a lot of advantages when it comes to draft line maintenance.
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We’ve heard whispers about Bell + Whete teaming up with a local brewery to produce a house beer or an ongoing series of seasonal house beers. We’ll share that information when and if it becomes a reality. Be patient. They just opened a few days ago.
Voracious. Curious. I like it.
The food menu at Bell + Whete focuses on conquest. In fact, the menu clearly explains the theme. “When the Normans invaded the British Isles, parts of France, Sicily, North Africa, and the Holy Lands, they ate voraciously and with great curiosity. They brought home the foods and techniques of the cultures they battled, creating an entirely new culinary landscape, defining much of what we eat today. At Bell + Whete we serve modern interpretations of those old world dishes, and celebrate the bravery and boldness of their hard-earned culinary tradition.”
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To put it plainly, the menu offers all sorts of swine and fowl. The house-made boar bratwurst, which they serve with caramelized onions, was divine. We also enjoyed the pommes lyonnaise—pan-fried potatoes and thinly sliced onions sautéed in butter with parsley. Next time we intend to order the Tour de Viande, which features all of the meats (speck, lardo, venison sausage, boudin blanc, and more). Yes, they have lardo. LARDO!
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Chef Forrest Brunton apparently loves meat. His menu lists more than a dozen different proteins: smoked trout, roasted pheasant, duck and foie gras sausage, to name just a few. Did I mention they have lardo? LARDO!
New, Not Fancy, But Very Nice
When you walk through the door, you are presented with the bar. Booths line the windows, more dining room is deeper in the interior, and there is also a separate dining room for private parties. There are plush booths and pub-height tables. Large, glass rollup doors open to the pedestrian friendly Bell Street, where you’ll find ample outdoor seating options. The entire space is comfortable and modern. Oddly, pleasantly, it already feels lived-in.
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Bell + Whete is operated by the same people as Local 360 and The Crocodile, so they know the neighborhood. My hunch? Weeknights will more-quietly service the locals and the weekends will attract the larger crowds, which is typical for this occasionally rambunctious neighborhood.
There’s a lot more going on at Bell + Whete, but instead of spelling it all out here, I suggest you go check it out for yourself. Go eat and drink like a Norman conqueror. Be voracious and curious. Do not be afraid of the lardo. LARDO!
Bell + Whete
200 Bell St
Seattle, WA 98121