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Capitol Hill food+drink: Ba Bar opens on 12th, why no more Licorous, Analog Coffee ready

With much of Seattle — and all of Capitol Hill? — hung over, sunburned and exhausted after Pride weekend, we thought we’d give you your food+drink notes dessert early this Monday. Not a bad way to start the day. Got a tip?

  • Yes, Capitol Hill extends all the way to Jefferson on 12th Ave. Believe us. You’ll want the border to go to at least E Barclay Court when you hear the final details for Ba Bar, the Eric Banh-helmed noodle shop opening this Thursday in the transformed former home of Watertown Coffee. The creator of CHS advertiser Monsoon and Baguette Box tells us his new venture is the culmination of a 10-year plan to create a noodle shop with street food credibility. For Banh, that means food authentic to his home country of Vietnam’s city streets. “There’s not going to be any jasmine rice here,” Banh said. “We’ll only have broken rice — which is known for being what poor people eat. But that’s where the nutrients are and it has this great nutty flavor. No brown rice either We’ll have the spirit of street food.” We also talked to Banh about his 12th ave plans back in January.

    UPDATE: Via Twitter, Ba Bar has announced its official grand opening will be pushed back to Tuesday, July 5th. Don’t know about soft opening. That’s why they call them “soft.”

    Ba Bar will be a testament to this “no brown rice” stubbornness. When the initial budget to transform the Watertown space wasn’t enough to complete the pure and reclaimed look Banh and his partners were going for, the construction budget was doubled. “It costs more to make it look simple,” Banh said. It also costs more to create a big space. Patrons will find an espresso (they’ll serve Umbria) and pastry counter at Ba Bar’s entrance and just past that, the wide-open kitchen with a counter and stools for customers to perch at while they drink their coffee in the morning or have a bowl of hot noodles at night. The bulk of the old Watertown space has been given over to the tables of reclaimed wood and Ba Bar’s big tall bar.

    Danny Jeffers
    will be keeping that bar stocked, mixing classics and occasionally “pushing the envelope,” he says, noting that Jamie Boudreau’s Canon is moving in just up 12th. Monsoon alum Josh Hart heads the kitchen and, to get back to the stubborn thing, is working overtime to acquire the local meats from natural farms prized by Banh at prices that will keep the typical dish at Ba Bar below $10.

    Banh says it is his and Hart’s mission to make two new noodle bowls as familiar to 12th ave diners as pho. You may not order the duck with egg noodle mi vit tim or the boulibase-like bun rieu the first time through Ba Bar but they’re planning to — stubbornly — get you hooked. If those don’t grab you, consider the puff pastries with pork and mushrooms.

    Ba Bar also isn’t messing around when it comes to hours of operation. Starting Thursday, Ba will be open between 7 in the morning and 2 in the morning. On the weekends, they’ll stay open until 4 AM. Karaoke on Tuesdays through Thursdays. Friday night, kung-fu movies. Wi-fi available during the day. It will require 20 employees to make the schedule happen. “We’re doing a little bit of everything,” Banh said. “I was this to be a true a true hangout.”

  • Speaking of Canon coming to 12th Ave, Monday night is Licorous’s final round. We received a brief note from Canon’s Boudreau who said he’s expecting to make only cosmetic changes to the space. We also heard back from Lark’s team to find out more about the decision to shutter Licorous. The lease was up, we’re told, and Kelly Ronan tells CHS that she and John Sundstrom have been thinking about focusing solely on Lark for “a while.”

    “It just seemed like the right time,” she wrote. “Between our regular cocktail crowd and our our Shophouse and Taco nights we’ve had a great year and feel really good about closing up shop on a positive note.” Ronan also said that the change wouldn’t have much of an effect on Lark but might give them more time to plan events and special dinners. 

  • We have more on our recent note about El Mestizo’s hunt for a new home as their current building is slated to make way for a new development. Here’s Mesizo’s Sarah Groome-Carrillo:

    Yes our building was sold earlier this year and the new owner plans to redevelop the lot.  At the moment the owner is planning to honor our lease until May 2012.  We should be in the same location until then unless we find a more suitable location before then.  We will be looking for a new home for El Mestizo starting the end of this year.  Hopefully we can find something a little closer to Capitol Hill proper, but if not we are also looking at Madrona.  With a little luck we won’t have to move that far and can continue to serve all our amazing local customers who have made our restaurant such a success! 

  • Poquitos backer part of new restaurant group.
  • Grim’s has a new lounge: The Woods
  • Grim’s-related The Social has wrapped up its E Olive Way demolition and is waiting on the permit from DPD (with the rest of the city) to start construction.
  • Rancho Bravo has tables, umbrellas on its patio.
  • Halibut Cake Sandwich

  • This is an interesting read. Plus, wow, Dinette sandwiches. But the reason for the sandwiches from the Seattle Met… that’s the other interesting part:

“When I moved to the location six years ago,” Nyffeler continued, “Lark, 1200 Bistro [now Chao Bistro], and Dinette—those were the only places you could go for food that was a step above pub food.” Since then, dozens of high-end restaurants have opened on the other side of the Hill, where parking is still dodgy but decidedly less so. Circumstances there are such that people no longer have to walk more than a block or two before stumbling into a nice restaurant.

Over on Olive, however, there is a dearth of retail and dining destinations, not to mention a resident base that skews towards twenty-somethings. Street traffic tends to seek out cheap eats—not entrees that run upwards of $20. La Bête opened up around the corner in the former Chez Gaudy space last year. That has helped some, said Nyffeler. But business isn’t what it should be given Dinette’s high marks among the critics and on customer feedback sites like Yelp. “We have so many happy customers, I feel like it should be busier. And I think the location is the problem. We’re a little too fancy for this part of the Hill.”

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10 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink: Ba Bar opens on 12th, why no more Licorous, Analog Coffee ready

  1. I had dinner a few nights ago at Dinette and the place was empty. I thought the food was kind of mediocre compared to past experiences there, and of course it’s on the expensive side. Maybe it was just an off night, but I think something has changed there.

  2. i’m excited about this place. eric is always really friendly when you go to his restaurants – monsoon and baguette box – and if you give him a moment he’ll tell you about how he makes his food and the quality of the ingredients. his passion really comes through when you talk to him. so i’m excited.

  3. …that Analog Coffee is open. Yum! I’m a late riser, so I’m glad they’re open for reals now. That 11am closing time was just too early for me.

    Go in and say Hi to Tim and Danny, they’re nice. And the coffee is stellar!

  4. you have re-districted the neighborhood; i was so excited that we have been getting good places to eat in the CD, but alas – it appears that they have all been incorporated into capitol hill. have you provided the City with a copy of the new neighborhood maps?

    you didnt even bother to post the story about Ba Bar on the CD News; as a CD resident this just seems offensive.

  5. in the blog’s defense, eric does own two popular restaurants on the hill. so he’s kind of a figure and it makes sense to report on what he’s doing – especially if it’s adjacent to the hill.

  6. Um, that neighborhood is/was Squire Park, not the CD. Learn your Seattle geography before you get so grumpy.

  7. Dinette isn’t too fancy. But for those of us on the Hill but not walking distance, access to (street) parking is 100% the issue.

  8. I hear what James is saying. Pop on over to CD News. There are lots of posts are about negative things and very little on the positive side.

    It’s great that restaurants are going in at 14th and Union and another promising one on 12th. Once upon a time when Scott was providing the majority of content to Central District News these would have been posted there (and probably here as well). Since Scott left, it seems that CD News doesn’t get the cross post.

    The reality is that 14th and Union and 12th Ave are at the edge of the Central District. Here is a city map that shows the boundaries: (Note that Squire Park is part of the Central District and that Capitol Hill’s South edge is Madison). This is something cool and Central District Gets to claim it too.

    My suggestion to jseattle is to post the good news about restaurant opening on the edge of Capitol Hill/ Central District on both blogs. Then nobody will gripe.