Monday, June 11, 2007
Hops and Heartbreak in Queen Anne
Hilltop Ale House, Upper Queen Anne
Those of you who know me know that I love beer so it should come as no surprise that I popped into the Hilltop Ale House on the top of Queen Anne one afternoon for a little hoppy libation. Just UPtown and slightly DOWN market from what I'm slowly learning are my swanky Belltown digs, lies this little local pub that feels upon first impact more divey diner than microbrew factory. As it turns out my suspicious nose WAS right....Hilltop does NOT in fact brew on premises but does however boast an impressive list of suds both local and non. The staff were both welcoming and knowledgeable further bolstering the small town, "howdy can I help ya", swinging saloon door feel. Could truly good beer be had at, I'm sorry to say it, such a hokey place?
The fog, the unfamiliarity of it all, and my general waning energy level propelled me straight into a pint of "Double Knot Industrial IPA" brewed locally in the town of Mukiltieo, WA (I of course have no fucking idea where this is). Smooth clover honey sweetness and a static hop finish abounded and shook off all mounting malaise upon impact and had me ordering a second only halfway through my first. Though this stuff packed the kind of dank beer uppercut I look for and demand, the "industrial" was a bit overboard relative to other IPA's I've been fortunate enough to drink off tap (ie, Blind Pig and Damnation) and could and should be more appropriately revised to "agricultural" given the brewers strict organic guidelines.
A quick glance at the grub showed traditional pub fare with ambitious little spins. I opted for the Reuben sandwich despite the fact that ordering a Reuben, from where I come from, ANYWHERE outside of a proper jewish delicatessen is a cardinal sin. The sandwich was all bark and no bite, pardon the pun, sounding glorious in theory and flat footed on the palate. Boars Head corned beef was braised in Blackthorn English Cider, then topped with house made pickled red cabbage (this i loved), the standards of swiss and thousand island, and was then grilled and baked to warm through. When it showed it looked more like SON of Reuben...this thing was puny....so puny that i finished the ENTIRE THING. This, from a deli-centric POV is NOT a good thing considering the central idea of deli is to over-deliver and my tendency is to pick at food like a bird. However, as mentioned, the cabbage was phenomenal....next visit I'll just ask for a bowl of IT.
It's dangerous to make my Seattle ventures a game of relative judgement against my tried and true San Francisco spots but this early into my stay its impossible not to. Hilltop, though charming to the bone with its total lack of pretense and local love, simply cannot hold a candle to the pub mastery of Magnolia in the Upper Haight.....if only they had their red cabbage.