Food & Drink

Three Impressions of Bar Charlie

Seaplane-themed craft cocktails, a cozy bar and great small plates: Bar Charlie is a smooth landing

By AJ Rathbun February 17, 2017

thumbnail_bar-charlie

Opened last December on the now-bustling lower Stone Way corridor, Bar Charlie tucks into a space within the ground floor of the Bowman apartment building. The bar, from Christian Thomason (with mentoring from Prost’s Chris Navarra), is already gaining lift as an area favorite. I stopped by recently to see what was taking flight, and here are three impressions of the visit.

The Drinks: Eight craft cocktails made up the drink menu when I visited, many with names reflecting the bar’s aeronautical theme (more about that below), like the Spruce Goose and Cargo of Spices. My top pick was the Connecting Flight, with mezcal, Fee Brothers Old Fashioned bitters, house-made grenadine and fresh lime. It had the slight smoke from the mezcal seated comfortably alongside the tang of real grenadine and lime—full-bodied and refreshing. The Burn Alert (Engine Out!) was another hit. Reading its description of bourbon, habanero syrup, Jamaican allspice bitters, fresh ginger juice and a dash of pale ale, you might think it’d be fiery mix. But it’s a thirst quencher, thanks to that pale ale, with heat and spice undercurrents. They also have wine, and beer on draft ($6 each), including a Bar Charlie pale ale from Rooftop Brewing. 

The Food: While Bar Charlie is more watering hole than restaurant, it does have a snug menu of edibles. If in with a group looking to snack, there are some nice small plates like a charcuterie board (which is also available with just cheese if you’re veg). It comes accompanied by warm, thick olives, crisp crostini, tangy Dijon and membrillo (quince paste). There are also three sandwiches: chicken, turkey and a zingy wasabi grilled cheese, and an “Etc.” section with two soups—tomato and clam chowder—a salad and a few other nibbles. Throughout, you’ll see a focus on local products like Lopez Island smoked sockeye salmon, Beecher’s flagship and other cheeses and Mama Lil’s peppers.

The Space: The bar is decorated with a seaplane theme that incorporates engine parts and actual propellers that somehow never veers overboard into kitsch. There’s a swell old propeller behind the bar surrounded by bottles on the wooden bar shelves, a big ceiling fan that looks like a propeller, one wall with a nautical map of the sound, lights hanging low from mooring ropes and some plane photos, but it all feels comfortable, not contrived. For seating, there are nine stools at the Sapele-wood-topped bar, a long communal table topped with the same, a few medium-sized booths against the sidewalk-side wall, one larger booth and floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides letting in lots of light. While the seaplane accouterments are neat, I think my favorite décor was the small rock, lichen and moss gardens on each table, such a nice northwest touch. Overall, Bar Charlie lands smoothly as a picture-perfect neighborhood spot. 

Follow Us

Seattle’s Cool Confections

Seattle’s Cool Confections

Three cold treats to savor this summer

When the sun brings all the vitamin D, it’s time to seek out vitamin I: ice cream, shave ice, soft serve, or anything else cold, portable, and tasty. These are our current favorites in town. 

The Sandwich Goes Gourmet

The Sandwich Goes Gourmet

Seattle is experiencing a sandwich renaissance

Seattle doesn’t have one reigning sandwich, but that hasn’t ruled out sandwich shops from taking root and becoming key players in our food scene...

We Need to Talk About Tivoli

We Need to Talk About Tivoli

How is there not a line out the door?

Each time I return, for the mortadella sandwich with whipped ricotta and “pistachio jazz” at lunch or the black garlic knots at dinner, I marvel that the massive crowds of Seattle dining scenesters have yet to find it.

Fried Chicken Frenzy

Fried Chicken Frenzy

Jollibee opens first Seattle location in Mount Baker   

Jollibee, the largest Filipino fast-food chain, is opening at Rainier Valley Square in Mount Baker June 7. Known for its crispy Chickenjoy fried chicken, chicken sandwiches, and the iconic peach mango pie, Jollibee has amassed a cult following worldwide.