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Capitol Hill food+drink | Tavern Law’s McCracken adding The Old Sage to 12th, Bait Shop update

Hey big tipper, drop us a line.

  • The big players know when to know when to hold em, when to fold em — and when to double down. Tavern Law’s Brian McCracken is preparing to establish his second food and drink showcase on 12th Ave. When it opens, The Old Sage will take over a space left vacant when wine bar Local Vine withered away earlier this year. The restaurant and lounge venture will be just a door down from Tavern Law and neighbors the Heavy Restaurant Group’s Barrio. Tavern Law opened in the Trace building in the summer of 2009. Chef McCracken and his partner in the kitchen Dana Tough turn out the cocktail-accompanying plates at Tavern Law, Spur and The Coterie Room. We’re assuming Tough will also be involved with The Old Sage. 

There’s no word on when the new venture will open as the project hasn’t yet been formally announced. There are currently no records on file with DPD indicating significant buildout work at the address. We’ll follow up with McCracken to learn more about his plans.

UPDATE: Seattle Met has details:

The Old Sage, they say, will be “a bar with good food,” more akin to Spur than Tavern Law. The focus is smoked meats, but McCracken and Tough want to be very clear—this is not a barbecue restaurant. Nor is it a modernist meat den. “This is our version of rustic,” says Tough. Rather, they want to blend some of the techniques that cemented their culinary reputation with some old-world approaches. Think pork cheeks, smoked with lavender, then braised for hours for a mellow smoke flavor and a subtle floral note. Vegetables will round out the meat dishes, most of them spending time in the wood-fired oven. The guys are also geeking out about the various breads they can make. Diners can build their meals by ordering some meats and a few vegcentric side dishes to round it out.

UPDATE x2: Oh boy! Eater gets in on the action, too:

“We understand that Capitol Hill is a neighborhood that kind of stays the same age,” says Tough. “You have the two colleges here, you have the industry that lives up here. I know we’ve said this a million times, but it’s very true: it’s kind of a fixed demographic in a way. Those colleges bring in a younger crowd, so a bar setting seems to make a whole lot of sense up there. We always try to look at an opportunity in the neighborhood from the perspective of the consumer and what the neighborhood needs. So, that’s the way we approach business a lot more than running with an idea that we think will miraculously work.”

Expect an early 2013 opening.

  • There has, on the other hand, been lots of significant buildout work at Linda Derschang’s next big thing, Bait Shop. The attached video from the American Hipster series is a great update on the project — a seven-foot marlin? of course — as well as Derschang’s work style — planning key elements like whether the promos should include matchbooks or matchboxes. 

As for opening Bait Shop on the planned “end of November” timeline? Not likely. “November is looking a little close,” Talullah Anderson tells us, “At this point we are thinking early-mid December if everything works out.”

Anderson also provided us with a little more details on what to expect when the Shop is ready:

Bait shop is the newest member of our family on the North end of Broadway, in the old Jade Pagoda space. Bait shop will have a bit of a nautical look with knotty pine walls, half circle booths, the hood of a ’77 firebird and an 8-foot marlin. We will serve delicious fried things (fish’n chips, fish sandwich, fried chicken sandwich), frozen cocktails – Painkillers, Piña Coladas and Margaritas – plus a few Tiki drinks  and 6 beers on tap. Bait Shop will be open daily from 4pm to 2 am, with the kitchen open until midnight. We’ll have a record player sitting on the bar a few days a week with a stack of our favorite tunes, we encourage you to bring in a few gems from your own collection and give them a spin! Please, no Bon Jovi.

As we told Anderson, everybody knows the appropriate format for BJ is cassette.


home cooked dinner the 2nd Monday of every month
doors open at 7pm
full bar available
doors close shortly after we run out of food
$12 – $15 depending upon menu
menu to be announced via Facebook/Twitter the Friday before
Twitter Feed to keep you updated on the status —how long we will continue serving, etc.
Our first Family Meal was a gigantic success.  We served roughly 60 diners in an hour and a half —quite a feat for our small space. The menu consisted of a roasted organic beet salad with house pickled shallots, blue cheese and a pomegranate vinaigrette & beef stroganoff served over homemade egg noodles with a dollop of creme fraiche.  A glass of Garnacha accompanied it.  All for a magical price of $12

As a reminder, we will be open and ready to serve you drinks this Thanksgiving! In 6.5 years we’ve never closed and holidays are no exception. In fact, it’s one of the best nights to come by. On that night, we will be debuting our BRAND NEW MENU. Also, we’ll once again make Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s tequila sherry egg nog. More evidence that Liberty Loves You, and loves to see you happy.


  • Sales pitch for this new construction restaurant space on Capitol Hill: “Car count on E. Madison & 12th Ave: 22,405 per day”
  • Sun Liquor says: “Happy Egg Nog Day! Aging officially starts now!”

    (Image: Sun Liquor)


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8 years ago

The Hillside Bar must also be close to opening, they’re stocking the shelves with liquor!

8 years ago

I walked by the former Living Room over the weekend and saw that the interior redesign seems to be progressing quickly. There was a new name posted on there that I thought I recognized from CHS, but can’t remember. Any more info on it possibly?

8 years ago

“Speckled & Drake” is mentioned above, right after the part about Bait Shop. Opening this Saturday. There’s a link to a story about them from a few days ago:


8 years ago

One of the best bars in the city? UGH. Double UGH. Old, dirty, run down, disgusting. I hope every day I drive by it will disappear.

8 years ago

You make it sound like old, dirty, run-down and disgusting is a bad thing.