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First look: The Canterbury Ale House raises its gate on 15th Ave E

IMG_7462IMG_7482an we just show you the pictures?

At this point, it’s probably best to keep it brief. The longtime house of food and drink at 15th and Mercer is ready for visitors in its latest Medieval incarnation.

The new Canterbury Ale House has been serving customers that last few nights in a soft start to another few decades of service on Capitol Hill. Friday is the official opening from the new partnership between the Neumos and Sam’s Tavern teams.

IMG_7527“Conveniently located between the hospital and cemetery. 30 beers on tap, pool table, shuffle board table and darts,” the pageant-free description goes.

CHS had a bunch to say in May as the new partnership between Neumos nightlife entrepreneur Mike Meckling and relative Pike/Pine newcomer James Snyder pushed to get its new 15th Ave E investment open. 

“This isn’t about the old Canterbury,” Meckling told us.

The new Canterbury has dark walnut everywhere, a giant new bar, a gorgeous vintage pool table, a big ol’ drawbridge of a roll up door for sunny days, darts and projection TV. The old video games are back. Shufflepuck is back. The suit of armor is back. But the rest is a total reinvention of the old space.







IMG_7603The overhauled kitchen comes with a new king of the deep fryer. But Cormac Mahoney’s reign over the menu is more about oyster stew and farro minestrone, smoked sturgeon or scotched quail eggs, steak tartar and marrow tots. There is a Canterburger. There is a dry rubbed flank steak. There are oysters on the half shell. We dare you to jump in a 15th Ave E time machine and order oysters at the old Canterbury. Or ask somebody to dry rub your flank steak, for that matter..

The new kingdom includes a royal upgrade in the cocktail department where each day of the week has a cocktail special and happy hours grace every day from 3 to 6:30 PM and again from 10 PM to midnight. There are zero ye olden tyme puns on the cocktail menu, by the way. Around 30 beers are offered on tap. You can get Pabst — or Red Bull — by the can.

Hours are 3 PM to 2 AM, seven days a week. Brunch will be served 10 AM to 2 PM on the weekends.

The Canterbury Ale House is located at 534 15th Ave E. You can learn more at


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77 thoughts on “First look: The Canterbury Ale House raises its gate on 15th Ave E

  1. I was a bartender for 12 years in a place further down the hill and if I wanted to have a drink by myself and stare out the window in a place where nobody knew me, the old Canterbury was perfect. It didn’t matter to me that their glassware was sticky, the bartenders were rude and/or lobotomized, the food was atrocious and the sound system worse than my first stereo purchased in 1882. Given all that, I still patronized the icky place. I liked the fact that they weren’t trying to be anything. They weren’t “edgy”. They had no “concept”.
    Though I don’t drink anymore I look forward to the opening of the new place. Anyplace that claims to be “conveniently located halfway between the hospital and the cemetary” sounds perfect for those of us in that same location. I think you are an improvement for the neighborhood and wish you luck in your venture

  2. We need to come up with a word or phrase to call all these places that have the wood rot replaced, all the patina scrubbed clean off and then are heavily coated with some sort of faux nostalgia.

  3. So what’s so terrible about a little gentrification? I’m surer you can still get a burger and fries or eggs or something else not so fancy shmancy. Besides, I’m sure there are still places around that are cheap, filthy, sleazy and worthy of condemnation by the board of health. Just come to my house.

      • I’ve been going to the Canterbury for the last 14 years. It’s changed a lot over that time in many different ways. At what point during that time was it the most authentic? At its most rundown and empty just before it closed? Back before the smoking ban when it was packed every night and the food menu was still current? And, why?

      • whatthewhat, this is the best comment I’ve seen on here in a while. Totally agree, change is constant and guaranteed- You can whine and fight it, or you can roll with it. If you don’t like somewhere, don’t go and put money into the places you do like.

      • Totally. I have a particular soft spot for this bar. Maybe because it’s been in my life for so long. This new iteration may not be for everyone – it may not even be for me, I haven’t been yet – but it wasn’t frozen in time before this change. To me it had changed more than other places , like say Linda’s, that I’ve also been going to for so long. Although Linda’s has changed too…

      • Ugh. You’re right. I suppose they’re they type that’s attracted to all the ugly new apartments, and probably the only ones who can afford rent too. With the increase in hate crimes and rise of bro culture, we need a CHS article about the next hipster/queer/artist neighborhood will be. I still like some places on the hill, but I don’t think the Canterbury will join my list.

      • you ***really*** think the bros live on capitol hill? more like kirkland and bellevue. they want to get drunk and puke here but would prefer to live the “sanitary, safe life” back in blands-ville. bridge and tunnel crowd for sure.

      • No kidding. I went there last night with a few friends who used to play pool at the old Canterbury fairly often. The clientele appeared almost exactly the same as at Von Trapp’s.
        It’s attractive enough inside, but having to pay $21 for a pitcher and waiting for the sole pool table is not going to keep us coming back frequently.

  4. My wife and I had some drinks and ate their last night. It was surprisingly busy for a soft opening but the staff was doing an excellent job and stopped by several times to check on how things were going. The atmosphere is definitely more trendy but it still feels (sort of) like the old Canterbury. One thing we didn’t like was how the more open floor plan made the place LOUD. I wish more places thought about some basic acoustics when remodeling.

    • That’s what I was thinking! And $5 for an 8oz redbull?

      Wow! It looks nice.. I just don’t see me or any of my friends being able to afford to eat/drink there.

      • I’m sorry to be the one to tell you but, this place isn’t for you and your friends. The old Canterbury was for you and your friends. This place is for the yuppie scum that have taken over your neighborhood. And you shouldn’t be hanging out in bars, anyway. You should be saving your money to move into a more affordable neighborhood (or city) because it’s not getting any less expensive and they’re going to do this little makeover (that panders to the yuppie scum) to every single business on the The Hill.

      • What makes all yuppies scum? Just because I’m young and a working professional, you think I’m a horrible person? I personally think there are pricks in all walks of life, no matter your profession. Would you like me to write you off as scum based on what you do for a living? I doubt it. I’m sorry your neighborhood is changing- But it would be a lot easier for you if you were a bit more open-minded and judged people based on their character.

      • Right on! The odious phrase “yuppie scum” is way overused, not to mention a gross generalization about those who have responsible jobs and who by and large contribute positively to their community.

      • Someone just used this phrase on a Sunday, June 15th post: “bright, shiny, samey young people who will pass through the neighborhood without adding anything but some money for the pockets of their landlords and a few trendy bars and restaurants.” I guess I’m not a very creative writer but, you know what we mean and you know who you you are.

        And just for the record, I’m not concerned about change. The neighborhood has been changing throughout the 21 years I have lived here. Change is necessary to keep a city alive and vibrant. I’m concerned for the kind of changes that are being made, with no regard for the history and character of the neighborhood.

      • lol.

        “I’m open to change as long as things change the way I want them to, and as long as people different than me don’t move into my neighborhood” -SMAJ

      • I hadn’t even considered the minimum wage change! Tots and fries will probably be in the double digits after that!!! I’ll be eating microwave popcorn at home methinks!

      • Sounds like a bunch of you would enjoy the Twilight Exit. That is, if you could find your way off Capitol Hill to Cherry/25th.

      • Prices aren’t going to skyrocket for places like the Canterbury. The mayor’s plan accounts for tips and benefits and is phased in gradually for small business like the Canterbury. Don’t believe the hype:

        It’s no longer a dive and the owners are trying to recoup their costs as quickly as possible– looks like they sunk a lot into it. This is gentrification at its finest: co-opting culture and pricing everyone out of it.

  5. I’m not crazy about that menu from what I see. Would choose Smith over this any day and it would be less expensive. This guy needs to change up what he was serving down in Madison Park, there’s a reason that restaurant failed.

  6. Well, I’m excited to check it out. I

    thought the decline of the former Canterbury was pretty sad. I remember the old Canterbury when it was packed all the time with lines out the door on the weekend. And food that was respectable. That wasn’t so long ago. Maybe 12 years?

    I took dates there, and my parents when they visited. (And not because they loved dive bars) It wasn’t as upscale as this new iteration. But it wasn’t especially cheap, or divey. To me it was more on the level of Hopvine or Smiths than what it became more recently. It sounds like now it’s maybe more like Rione- level. But I don’t find that as sad as watching it die.

  7. I just can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would want to go to a nice bar instead of a dilapidated rundown one, I mean, where’s the character? Where’s the pool tables falling apart? Where is the big wall in the middle and that blocked off room? Why did they replace all that old with all that nice new wood all over and saved a bar that no one actually wanted to go to anymore? Why is it so open and clean!!!

    but in all seriousness, went to the soft opening, was pretty stellar. Meckling and Snyder and their crew did a great job of sprucing up the joint. Why are all you people so annoying and cry about everything? Sure these guys are ‘gentrifying’ things but they are saving what little character the neighborhoods have. The Comet fell apart and they came in and saved it, and now they saved Canterbury. I think it’s awesome

    • because now it costs a fortune to have a drink at a place which used to be comfortable neighborhood bar. the problem is people buy a place, then say “this isn’t for you any more, it’s for those guys over there. go somewhere else.”

      • Well, perhaps if it was actually frequented more by the neighborhood it wouldn’t have needed to be bought by other people. The reason it was converted by Meckling/Snyder is because it was clearly not doing that well..

        would you rather have new owners who might charge a lil bit more and try to preserve as much character as they think is necessary (and arguably make a much nicer space) or would you rather have a Chase Bank take its place and have the entire space closed down every day at 6pm with only one function?

      • It doesn’t cost a fortune for a drink. It might cost a fortune to get drunk. There’s a difference.

    • Meckling and Snyder had nothing to do with The Comet. Snyder owns Sam’s and Meckling is a partner in Neumos. Jason Lajuenesse and David Meinert own The Comet.

  8. Went to the soft opening – nice space, great woodwork, bar is a little big, but hey. But menu and drinks are way, way too expensive. I may watch a cup game there but probably won’t be hanging out regularly like I used to.

  9. Seattle has become Manhattan? Have you been there in the past 400 years? That’s how long it took to become the most intriguing and indescribable city in this country and this world. Seattle has no room to grow? Might I suggest upward? We have as much room as the Dutch had in 1600. Where did you park your spaceship?

    • Haha, so true! I love when the Manhattan comparisons get trotted out; it makes me suddenly feel like I’m reading a small-town paper and Grandpa is shaking his cane.

      And as if being Manhattan would be a bad thing! Can’t wait to get back for an overdue visit….

  10. I used to tend bar and live above in the Fredonia back in the day When it was the Gas Light tavern! Wow how the hill has changed.

  11. “Conveniently located between the hospital and the cemetery” was the old marketing slogan created by Peggy Clarke, the owner for 20-plus years until she sold it in the early ’00s. She also created the “olde tyme” murals the subsequent owners painted over. That slogan was printed on all the coasters and the ads that used to run in the old Capitol Hill Times but we could never get her to make T-shirts. The new owners should invite Peggy to their opening!

    • We spent a bunch of time with Peggy over the last 5 months, including a few trips out to her home. She did a great job with the restaurants that she created. And yes, your right about that slogan, we have Peggys’ blessing. I just got off the phone with her, hopefully she can make it out. Great suggestion…

  12. Many of us now in our 40s and 50s need to realize that during all of those hedonistic younger years we spent at our favorite trashy places, a new generation was born and raised. They are young adults now who replaced us while most of us older kids have limited our “intoxicational” behavior to every now and then.
    We identified with the seediness and grunginess of the Hill. Perhaps the drastic changes of more upscale, “cosmopolitan” looking places is what our successors identify with.
    The other option as for the Canterbury and the Comet is that it would’ve existed in our memories. Instead, they still exist and we can still go to them for a long time to come. Granted, they appear somewhat different, but they’re not completely gone. Learn to accept.

    • ” They are young adults now who replaced us while most of us older kids have limited our “intoxicational” behavior to every now and then.”

      We clearly run in different circles.

  13. I stopped by last night and the place looks great. They’ve uncovered a bunch of cool Canterbury murals that Peggy had painted in that the prior owners for some reason had covered up. The ugly front gate has been removed and you can see the “Canterbury” tiles again. The chandeliers are from the original too, having been in storage. Theres some new stuff too but lots of original stuff you just couldnt see before. The nasty smell is gone. Theres a good lineup of PNW beers on tap. And I don’t have to worry whether the tap lines are clean.

    I’m sorry but the prior owners ran that place into the ground.

  14. I really wanted to like this place, but why on earth would I pay $7 to have a beer here when I could get the same one for $5 at Hopvine? I feel like they are misjudging the area. Just because people have money in these parts doesn’t mean they are oblivious to getting ripped off.

    Honestly, if you’re going to charge those prices you better bring something damn good to the table and, from what I can see, they haven’t done that.

  15. Please tell me they have that “World’s Worst Jukebox” still? I loved that damn thing. You could pick any song and you’d be lucky if it played the song you chose. Amazing.

  16. I will reserve judgement until I have the chance to go in and check it out. But $7.00 for a pint is ridiculous.

  17. The beer price points are not THAT outrageous. Most of the beers are $6, with a handful more than that. Its not that different than the Deluxe Bar & Grill on Broadway, which nobody whines about being a “yuppie” bar. A pint of Manny’s at Deluxe is $5.25, $18 for a pitcher. At Canterbury, $6 a pint, $21 a pitcher. So basically, 75 cents more a pint than what a perfectly middle of the road joint for average schlubs on Capitol Hill charges. The Canterbury cocktails are served in portion sizes similar to Deluxe, are slightly more expensive and a lot higher quality. Same for food – slightly more per entree item than Deluxe’s middle of the road pub grub, and quality-wise far superior. (I went to a soft opening at Canterbury this week to eat & drink, and I’ve been to Deluxe often, so can compare.)

    I think some folks are just sore that somebody came along who knows how to actually run a bar like a professional business and not a hobby – and they’ve already run laps around prior ownership even before officially opening.

    • So. They’ve run laps around prior ownership even before they opened? Well I must wish them Mazel Tov! The Titanic was supposed to run laps around other boats. And remember the Edsel? The Hindenberg? Ford Pinto? Bernie Madoff?
      How can you judge a business and it’s profitability on its maiden voyage? Remember Blu on Pike next to BMW? Lines around the block to get into that icy soulless oh so grooveau “chegdish”. Imploded within one year.
      And as long as I’m on my crotchety old coot soapbox, when did prices become “price points”? Do you also use the term “impacted”? or “awesome” to describe mundane things that do not produce awe? Or god forbid replace your welcome with “no worries”? Can’t take anymore. Lorazipam. Nap.

  18. The place is expensive and $7 pints are a bit much. They do have a happy hour which is quite a bit cheaper, but still.

    The sad part here is the menu. It’s just not appetizing. A scotch qual egg and smoked sturgeon? Chicken live toasts? Ok whoever designed the show we get it, you watch a lot of Andrew Zimmerman, but unless you’re paying how about you put dishes on there that people actually want.

    The menu also lacks variety. Happy hour is cheap oysters or you can order the oyster stew or oyster roll.

    This place will get some business now while the front doors can open, but they’re seriously botched their roll out here.

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  20. Back with the original Frontier Room was closing, we all headed there for one last drink on Sunday around 2pm. Sunday was supposed to be its last day. We arrived to find it closed and us sad. So where did we go? The Canterbury. Now that one has bit the dust. I guess not really, but what’s up with that freaky gate? Shticky if you ask me. I’ll miss their 86ed wall.

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