Saturday, January 31, 2015

Downtown Darwinism

Von's reinvents itself after 25 years


2013 has been a year for changes at some of Seattle's most iconic restaurants: Ray's got a remodel, Canlis went to prix fixe, and now Von's has a new space, a new name, and a new lease on life.

For a quarter-century, Von's Roasthouse was a Pike Street relic with a dated menu of steaks and "hamburgs." It gathered dust as culinary Seattle passed it by.

Then owner Tim Firnstahl threw out everything but the name, relocated the place to Harbor Steps, and created one of Seattle's best "new" bars.

The newly-christened Von's 1000 Spirits is officially Seattle's largest bar. And no, that number isn't just for show: they have 1000 bottles behind the bar for you to choose from.

The big gimmick here is the Alchemist, a bar staffer responsible for all kinds of little things to make your cocktail perfect — including charcoal filtering pours of vodka for extra smoothness.

And, in a happy holdover from the original Von's, you can still get their trademark $5 martini.

The food pays homage to the old place's offerings with 21st century finesse; hamburgs are made with chopped Delmonico steak and served on house-baked sourdough brioche. New to the menu are frics, French flatbread pizzas fired in an 800-degree almond wood oven.

This old man's looking pretty good.

Von's 1000 Spirits
1225 1st Ave., Downtown
(206) 621-8667

Price: 2 (out of 4)
Noise: 3 (out of 4)
Best bets: Classic hamburg; Asiago beignets; fric champignon
Nearby: Radiator Whiskey; Tavern Law; Bathtub Gin
Locals Only: Show your Washington driver's license and get 25% off lunch orders.

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