Last night a friend and I made a visit to Licorous, my first in a long while. It's the kind of place that is warm and inviting from your first step inside, where you expect to run into someone you know (she did), and anticipate a great experience (we had). I remembered the interior from my last visits there -- fabric panels in orange tones, mid-century drum shades on hanging lamps in the nook, tin ceiling, light fixtures over the bar that our server told us were shipped in from Brooklyn. (Reclaimed from some old factory? Ooh, I hope so!)
What I hadn't remembered was the stellar happy hour, and perhaps that's a new feature. On the recommendation of another friend I was all set to have a Vesper, a cocktail that's an intriguing blend of gin, vodka, and Lillet, but the pull of the $4 happy hour cocktail was too strong. And who wouldn't be lured by the 5 Spice Hot Toddy on a cold, rainy night in February in Seattle? In addition to the special cocktail, the happy hour menu also features the chef's choice tartine and a magical little something called a pretzel dot. Although we didn't have that tartine (we had the regular ol' and very tasty smoked white bean, kale, and truffle butter version) we did have several of the dots. At $1 each, and significantly more than bite-sized, they consist of house-made sausage, gruyere, sauerkraut, and mustard aoli sandwiched between Columbia City Bakery "pretzel" rolls. Think that the pretzel aspect sounds a little, how do you say, pedestrian? Don't knock it 'til you try it; we gobbled up several between us without much effort at all.
Without a doubt the pretzel dot doesn't do justice to what I understand is the wizardry of Chef John Sundstrom, but in combination with the tartine and a plate of fabulous cheeses (three cheers for triple-cream!), it was perfect for us. Maybe it's just that I find the combination of upscale restaurant and adjacent bar-bistro to be a compelling one -- witness my love of Sambar, and elder cousin, Le Gourmand -- but I think that Licorous is a great bet for an uncomplicated but very good meal in a lovely setting, and an easy place to drop in and spend time with good friends. Now I just have to step next door and give Lark a go...
[Photo courtesy of Katie S.]