Open since last summer, open-air, wine-centric Bar Ferd’nand (1531 Melrose Ave.; 206.623.5882; ferdinandthebar.com) blends casual with romantic. Owned by Matthew Dillon of neighboring Sitka & Spruce, Marc Papineau and Jared Baily, this intimate bar is perfect for a cozy second date or an impromptu wine appreciation session.
THE VIBE: Mellow, rustic and airy, Bar Ferd’nand is situated in the middle of Melrose Market. Expect a mix of flannel-covered Capitol Hill denizens and blazer-clad downtowners migrating up Pine after work for a glass of wine. A family-friendly corner sits off to the side for quick tasting and snacking. The small seating budget (only 14 stools in the entire establishment) makes the space more conducive to standing conversation than crowding friends around a table.
THE FOOD: The fresh, locally inspired small plates are perfect late-night snacks. A chalkboard perched near the bar lists seasonal oysters (such as Penn Cove and Kushi, $3 each), easily paired with an order of chips ($2.50) or piparras ($3). The cheeses and preserves plate ($8) comes with a selection of gourmet cheeses and a spicy-sweet preserve for spreading on chewy bread.
THE DRINKS: Despite a potent stock of liquor, the extensive collection of wine at Bar Ferd’nand steals the show, with glasses running an average of $7 to $12. The rotating list offers above-average options like the Gamay Cotes Forel Verdier Logel ($7) and the Breton Bourgueil ($10).
THE BATHROOMS: The “washrooms” serve the entire Melrose Market and are therefore somewhat uninspired.