Culture Dose: Food, Fashion & Friendly Folks

By Corinne Whiting

Cozying up for good eats and drinks at the Alexis Hotel’s Bookstore Bar (plus the chance to go glam for a good cause).

Sometimes downtown hotels prove happenin’ spots (and not just for tourists). On a recent 50-degree June day, the Bookstore Bar in the Alexis Hotel became the perfect spot to cozy up for the afternoon. (However, while there I did eye the neglected patio tables out front and vowed to return as soon as the sun makes a consistent appearance!)

By Corinne Whiting

Stuffed to the gills after a delightful lunch with colleague friends, I attempted do some post-feast work on my laptop. Instead, I found myself happily distracted by nearby banter between a jovial bartender and an inquisitive Chicago couple, bellied up to the bar and clearly in a carefree, vacationing state of mind. I was fascinated to discover that, at 2 p.m., I was the only patron not imbibing in that friendly space. (Hey, it’s always five o’clock somewhere, right?)

Marked by floor-to-ceiling front windows, copious amounts of dark wood and shelves stocked with worn, hardcover books (that patrons can borrow while they dine and drink), this restaurant-bar serves up delicious food as well as 140-plus types of whisky and some of the Pacific Northwest’s tastiest microbrews (like Pike Kilt Lifter and Hale’s Ale). An impressive daily happy hour menu from 4 to 7 p.m. includes goodies like potato chips ($2), country olives, the bistro salad or vegan chili (all $4), three-cheese mac or clam chowder ($5) and the bistro burger or pulled pork sandwich ($7).

By Corinne Whiting

On my tasting menu last week: the highly-recommended trio of mac ‘n’ cheese (think unusual flavors like curry with crawfish), a bowl of hearty sweet potato soup and the chicken waldorf wrap (grilled chicken, chunks of apple, currants, walnuts and spinach in a wheat tortilla). For the finale? Three of us split the Callebaut chocolate brownie topped with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream. What a feast.

By Corinne Whiting

Chef David Hatfield, a native Seattleite, took over the venue’s kitchen last winter. He prides himself on serving healthy, high-quality food that showcases the cuisine of the Pacific Northwest, often with a twist. He enjoys garnishing dishes with fresh goods from the hotel’s rooftop garden, meaning that some plates arrive looking more like artwork than a dish fit for a fork dive.

As one example of Hatfield’s ingenuity, he salvages “spent grain” from Pike Pub (leftover grains that haven’t made it into the beer) and uses them in his house-made granola. (In the future he hopes to incorporate spent grain into other baked goods, too.) Hatfield got the idea while watching ranchers in Bend, Oregon, line up to take home leftover  grain that would otherwise get tossed. Ever since, he’s been asking himself, “What could I do with those grains?”

To experience Hatfield’s culinary talent for yourself, head to 1st Avenue and Madison for some tasty eats and drinks. The good news is that, whether the day’s dull or bright, the Bookstore Bar will cater to your (and the weather’s) every mood.

Bella Umbrella, photo courtesy Kimpton hotels

But the Kimpton’s Alexis  hotel doesn’t only do food; this week they do fashion too. On Thursday, June 28, from 5 to 8 p.m., the venue hosts “Girls Gone Glam,” a ladies shopping event that features Seattle-based boutiques like Bella Umbrella, Blackbird tees, Orange Box Jewelry, Tasty Delectable Collectibles, Pandemonium Hats, GlamSpoon, Urban Farm Naturals and more. Tickets ($25) include cocktails, small bites, a raffle ticket and free valet (upon availability). All proceeds go to Dress for Success, along with 20 percent of all sales made that evening while shopping with the boutiques. (Kimpton Hotels sponsor Dress for Success, a nonprofit that helps disadvantaged women thrive in the workplace.) Attendees also enjoy perks like free readings from Sheila the psychic, hair-styling from Swink Style Bar and massages courtesy of Chroma Salon.Spa.

Girls Gone Glam Alexis Hotel, 1007 1st Avenue | Thursday, June 28, 5 to 8 p.m.