Ernest Hemingway lived all over: France, Spain, the U.S., and Cuba. A restaurant in Kirkland, Bottle & Bull, is taking his travels and turning them into a menu that includes creative craft cocktails and made-from-scratch food, all with a literary bent.
Owned by Chad and Jessi Waldher, the Kirkland restaurant opened in November 2014 and has been serving up everything from mouth-watering seared tuna to pork-belly sliders.
The Waldhers opened their first restaurant, Marcy’s Bar & Lounge, in Walla Walla in 2009. But the Eastside was calling, and Kirkland seemed like the perfect place. “We knew we wanted to do an intimate space on the Eastside,” said Chad.
As far as the theme, Hemingway seemed like a good thread for the restaurant. His favorite places — Havana, Paris, Florence, and Pamplona — made for a palate that wasn’t being well represented in the area.
“We wanted a concept people could really hold on to,” said Jessi. “(This is) a really specific concept, but it gives us a ton of flexibility in the kitchen and drinks.”
On the starters menu, also known as “Chapter 1,” Bottle & Bull’s take on a deviled egg is colorful — the pickled eggs ($7) are a purple-pink color, thanks to beet juice. Topped with a rich smoked salmon mousse, the three eggs are a filling starter.
The smoked beets ($11) may be on the Chapter 1 menu, but there’s a lot on the plate, and all of it good. The candied hazelnut brittle mingles with the salty Gorgonzola cheese on thinly sliced beets with a hint of smokiness.
Chad and Jessi’s favorite dish is the steak tartare ($16). Topped with a quail egg, the well-seasoned raw dish is served with crostini. The Waldhers often order steak tartare at other restaurants in order to compare — and say they’ve mastered it.
The pan-seared scallops ($27) don’t skimp on flavor. The plump scallops are wrapped in thin blankets of salty prosciutto, and laid to rest on a bed of ginger aioli. It is served with greens and slices of citrus orange to round out all the dreamy flavors.
Of course, at a Hemingway-inspired bar and restaurant, drinks are a must. Bottle & Bull serves up signature cocktails and classics like pisco sours, Moscow mules, and mai tais.
The bar itself is the crowning glory in the restaurant — it’s a more-than-100-year-old Brunswick bar.
“It’s kind of an homage to the tradition of bartending,” said Justin Godsey, bar manager. He’s been with Bottle & Bull since September.
On a classic pisco sour ($11) with rich egg white, Godsey illustrates the top with bitters. It’s the drink equivalent of fancy latte art.
“For me it’s a very Zen thing,” said Godsey. “It just puts the finishing touches on a drink.”
A popular signature cocktail is the Robert Jordan ($11), named for a character in Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls. It’s a gin-based drink that includes fresh-juiced pineapple, part of the commitment create food and drinks from scratch.
“We feel like Kirkland has really embraced us.” — Jessi Waldher
Another not-to-be-missed signature Hemingway inspired cocktail is The Third Marriage ($13). Barrel-aged bourbon is mixed with maple syrup, calvados, dry sherry, and angostura for a boozy and sweet cocktail.
The restaurant is expanding its offerings. Bottle & Bull’s brunch on Sunday is gaining traction. Popular items include the banana boracha ($14) and the pork-belly Benny ($15).
For the Waldhers, the location in Kirkland couldn’t be better. Windows open up on Lake Street, and the restaurant pulls in pedestrians looking for a special dining experience. One of the things that attracted the couple to the area was the strong sense of community.
“We feel like Kirkland has really embraced us,” said Jessi.
Bottle & Bull is the start of a new chapter in Kirkland.
When you go:
Bottle & Bull is a dinner restaurant, but it also offers Sunday brunch.
Tuesday-Friday 3 p.m. to close.
Saturday 2 p.m. to close.
Sunday 10 a.m. to close.
105 Lake St. S., Kirkland