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Capitol Hill food+drink | Canterbury Ale House set to return with new flavor of 15th Ave E knightlife

1375158_10152780173257004_1150249457506920435_napitol Hill nightlife entrepreneur Mike Meckling is bringing his years of experience creating successful nightlife businesses in Pike/Pine to a new neighborhood and he’s not going to get wrapped up in nostalgia for his creation’s former incarnation.

“This isn’t about the old Canterbury,” Meckling said Monday as he stood inside the overhauled Canterbury Ale House as the former dive goes through its final, frenzied burst of work before its planned opening next week.

IMG_1154IMG_1152The Neumos partner showed off his new 15th Ave E creation to CHS with a tour of the old tavern that has been ripped open and reinvented. Gone are the dark warrens of the old bar. The new space is a wide open, ye Old English-styled tavern where the dark shadows have been replaced by dark walnut and chain mail screens.

“We managed to keep like this English feel and use a lot of walnut and steel,” Meckling said, speaking in verse perhaps inspired by the incredible Canterbury Tales mural found beneath layers of drywall and now — again — on display. “With breed and chese, and good ale in a jubbe,” Meckling continued.

Just kidding.

For the breed and chese part of things, Meckling has brought in a new partner to his roster of collaborators as Cormac Mahoney will be in charge of the new-era Canterbury’s kitchen. The menu isn’t finalized yet but you can also expect a nostalgia-free approach to Canterbury’s ale house happy hour, dinner and late night offerings. Weekend brunch will be worked into the mix, eventually. Meckling says he plans to partner with Mahoney, whose Madison Park Conservatory shuttered in February, on other ventures and that the chef is in for the long haul at the Canterbury and not simply consulting on a menu.

Last December, CHS reported on the deal that brought Meckling and Sam’s Tavern owner James Snyder together to take over the Canterbury as building landlord Capitol Hill Housing looked for new blood, new energy and new money to refurbish the space and create a venue more appropriate for the ground floor of their Fredonia apartment building. The buildout has involved serious refurbishment of the space used continuously as a bar since 1976. Residents upstairs will appreciate, if nothing else, the improved soundproofing.

Customers will appreciate, if nothing else, finding some of the old Canterbury’s bones repurposed in the new Graham Babba-designed space. Old booths and benches made the cut. Heavy wrought-iron chandeliers found in a former owner’s bedroom have been restored. The aforementioned Chaucer-inspired mural is recovered. The front seating area is now the Knight’s Room and the crappy old suit of armor will again grace the space along with a refurbished hearth.

Scenes from the Canterbury Tales create circa 1980 were uncovered inside the old bar during the overhaul (Images: CHS)

Scenes from the Canterbury Tales create circa 1980 were uncovered inside the old bar during the overhaul (Images: CHS)

But new abounds. There is a giant group table planned for the southwest corner of the venue — no, it’s not round. A vintage, royal red pool table is lined up for a gaming area while another area in the back will make space for darts.

The puny eight-foot bar now stretches to 30 feet of thick walnut, boasts 30 taps and looks into an open, copper-backed bartender’s keep and open kitchen. The front of the new Canterbury includes a massive roll-up door — CHS called it a castle drawbridge and Meckling only slightly bristled — that will be open for warm days and sticky knights nights. There will be a giant drop-down screen for big events and TVs ready for smaller ones. And, in a theme for transformed Capitol Hill dive bars, the bathrooms are no longer disgusting.

The result is something altogether brand new on 15th Ave E.

“I just want people to think how good looking it is when they come in,” Meckling said. “How great the food is. How great the service is.”

The Canterbury is slated to re-open sometime next week — any published dates you’ve seen are probably in need of an update. You can keep track of things on the Cantebury Facebook page.

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • CHS visited the Central Agency project after Jerry Everard and Alex Rosenast acquired the building in 2013 (Image: CHS)

    CHS visited the Central Agency project after Jerry Everard and Alex Rosenast acquired the building in 2013 (Image: CHS)

    12th Ave’s much-loved Lark will move into a new home as part of John Sundstrom’s new complex project inside the under-construction Central Agency building on the backside of Pike/Pine. Sundstrom announced the move along with the names for his new Central Agency projects: Bitter/Raw, and Slab Sandwich + Pie:

 The main floor of the building, located at 952 East Seneca Street, will hold the new Lark—once the space is ready, Lark will relocate and the beloved original 12th Avenue location will become a private event space for a period of time (more on that in 2015). The menu will read in a traditional fashion (snacks, cheese, small plates, pasta/grains, large plates, dessert) and feature many Lark favorites, but Sundstrom will take the opportunity to expand the variety of options in each section. The new space will have a similar aesthetic as the old, with wood floors, exposed beams, and dark wood, echoing the original Lark’s design with flowing curtains and soft lighting, plus 25-foot ceilings. There will be 54 seats in the dining room, with an additional 22 in the bar area—yes, an actual bar area with more than four stools! Lark will be open daily in the evenings, and will eventually open for weekday lunch and weekend brunch. Sundstrom is looking forward to expanding Lark—“It’s Lark, grown up,” he says.

Bitter/Raw will take residence upstairs on the mezzanine. The restaurant will center around a long rectangular raw bar serving oysters and other shellfish, crudos, and sashimi, plus jamón, prosciutto, and other charcuterie. They’ll also showcase an extensive selection of amaro and aperitifs, hence the “bitter.” The mezzanine will seat about 48 guests at small tables and a communal table, plus eight seats in the bar area and 16 at the raw bar. Lofted above Lark, Bitter/Raw will be an airy, lively gathering space, open early afternoon to late with a great happy hour daily from 3pm to 6pm.

Slab Sandwich + Pie, located off the main entrance to the building at 1201 10th Avenue, between Seneca and Union, will be open weekdays from morning until early evening. Simple sandwiches and other lunch items will be available for takeout daily, as well as a few grocery items—just a few choice things that might make for a perfect addition to an impromptu after-work gathering like olives, cheese, charcuterie, wine, and flowers. Juices and slices of slab pie will also be available, as well as espresso. You can learn more at

  • The guy who brought you Joe Bar is turning things around to bring you Barjot just a short walk away. Expect juice!
  • 611 Supreme announced its closure last week after nearly 20 years of business on E Pine. We hope to have a chance to catch up with owner Margaret Edwins soon about the decision.
  • 10269631_755080531189656_7859032160122764048_nHoly crap. 3,000 words about the first year of business at Lost Lake.
  • Li’l Woody says: “FREE BURGER DAY is MAY 26th – #MemorialDay 2-5pm at both locations: #CapitolHill & #Ballard. One burger per person, extras cost extra.”
  • Shibumi — we told you about the new ramen and Wagyu joint here — added happy hour this week. 4 to 7 at the bar, we’re told.
  • This year’s crop of Capitol Hill Farmers Market food stands includes Kedai Makan, I Heart My GFF, Meloui, Patty Pan and The Chai Place.
  • The First Hill McDonald’s seems to have survived this worker walkout.
  • Capitol Hill gelato now comes with an Italian library.
  • Like we said, Chuck’s is getting a patio.
  • Seattle Mag loves Hello Robin.
  • Piecora’s, you’re just messing with us now.
  • Sure, King County restaurants should make their health inspection scores more readily available. But why Yelp?
  • “The go-to dance-place joint for Capitol Hillers” these days according to those party animals at the Seattle Times? The Rhino Room.
  • The Honeyhole is turning 15! Owner Sean London writes:

    My name is Sean and I am co-owner of HoneyHole Sandwiches. I just wanted to inform you that we are celebrating our 15 year anniversary on Saturday, May 24th. It has been an incredible ride and we are so grateful to all of our amazing customers and staff that have supported the HoneyHole and allowed us to reach this celebratory milestone. We will be celebrating by serving all of our craft beers on tap for $3.50 all day and night. Our well drinks will be $4.00 all night when the bar opens at 5. Of course we’ll be serving our tasty sandwiches as usual. There will also be HoneyHole trivia as well as some free schwag give aways. Local Seattle band Country Lips will stop by at 6pm to play a few songs- it should be a good time.

  • You may have seen the intrepid journalism Capitol Hill’s The Stranger committed earlier this week in search of the truth about Macklemore’s fake nose. But here’s an image from the weekend the Slog didn’t show you. Ben Haggerty eats… bagels! Thanks for the picture, tipster.

    Mack spotting at 12th Ave's Eltana Bagels this weekend -- thanks tipster!

    Mack spotting at 12th Ave’s Eltana Bagels this weekend


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19 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Canterbury Ale House set to return with new flavor of 15th Ave E knightlife

  1. Good news for those of us who love the Medieval theme and a relaxed ale house. I sincerely hope they don’t rehire the surly and disagreeable waitstaff from its previous incarnation. They hated to be there and, in turn, made their customers feel the same way.

    • I would hope to see a few familiar faces. Visits coinciding with one of Jen’s bartending shifts was always a very happy occasion.

    • Casey obviously didn’t know anyone who worked at the former Canterburys. I know most of the staff by name, and they were why I went there year after year.

  2. I walked by Canterbury yesterday and was very pleased to see the giant burglar gates were gone. It also appeared that folding doors would become the new entrance.

    I also noticed the Canterbury tiles on the sidewalk for the first time. Its looking good so far.

  3. All I want is to be able to eat a giant turkey leg and wash it down with a chalice of Mead. Is that too much to ask?

    • The Summit Pub has had various (local!) meads on tap for months now, and the glass they serve it in is somewhat chalice-like. However, the closest you’re going to get to a giant turkey leg is a large chicken burrito.

  4. I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, but my gut tells me this is going to be yet another upscaled, retro-inspired shadow of its former self, replete with $12 “signature cocktails” and $15 grass-fed Wagyu burgers & “frites” designed to appeal to nascent Capitol Hill condo-dwellers, replacing the cheap well drinks and affordable, serviceable bar food that used to be its mainstay.

    So long Canterbury, it was nice knowing you…

    • I went there a lot in the early 2000s, when there were lines out the door every night and I wasn’t afraid to order the food. I took dates there. I even took my parents there when they visited.

      When I moved around the comer a few years ago, I still went there, watched football, and even occasionally ordered some food. But, the old Canterbury was already a shadow of its former self. It was sad to see.

      I’m sentimental about the spot, but I think this is far kinder than letting it continue to slide. I’m excited to see it refurbished and used and loved again.

  5. Pingback: Capitol Hill food+drink | Canterbury Ale House set to return with new flavor … – CHS Capitol Hill Seattle | Wrought Iron US

  6. I’m feeling very hopeful! One thing I hope that is preserved (even with the new layout) is some of the cozy vibe afforded by the booths, carpet and smaller rooms of the “old” joint.
    The Canterbury was one of the only places of it’s size on the Hill that did NOT become a total cacophony when crowded. You could always hear the person across from you. There enough places with huge spaces and concrete floors and noise up to the rafters (even with fairly few patrons).

  7. Congrats to Lark for finding a new space I think it will be a huge bump to their business. Congrats to the new incarnation of Canterberry as well.

    • Love Lark and hope this new space works well for them (though I’ll miss the cozy old one). Alas, that 10th/Seneca area was one of my secret spots to find parking in the area when I needed it, so I guess those days are over.

  8. So can we use these stories to play connect-the-dots in the often-incestuous CH Food+Drink scene? Cormac Mahoney — a “name” chef presently without a restaurant — is collaborating on the menu at the reborn Canterbury’s with Mike Meckling, who is one of the owners of Neumos; one of the other owners of Neumos is Jerry Everard, who is a partner in developing the new space for Lark. When Lark moves, their old space would be perfect for… a “name” chef without a restaurant.

  9. I walked past this evening. They did a great job cleaning up the facade of the building. It looks really nice and inviting now.

    I also noticed that Chutneys was leveled today.

  10. Times are always changing but the Old Canterbury was one of those places where it always felt like it was standing still (literally, some nights:) Kudos to these guys working so hard to keep the Caturbury alive, minus all the stickiness.

    We were always pretty certain Chutney’s was a front. I ate there once and at 7pm was one of only 3 people in the building, me, my server and a cook…

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