Bar Review: Oven and Shaker

I had the opportunity to have brunch at Oven and Shaker with my mother, Valerie.  During the Northwest Foodservice show I was privileged to meet Ryan Magarian one of the fine minds behind the place and it inspired me to check the place out and see some of his philosophy in action.

First impressions were nice, it was clean well decorated and lively even at 11:30 AM.  Lots of dark wood, big mirrors and the emphasis on the view out the big front windows as well as the impressive bar.

I wish I had my better camera to really capture the size of the bar on this place.  It’s not so much the seats but the rack of liquor behind the bartenders that impresses.  Looking down the row was a who’s who of local favorites, oddball things I haven’t had a chance to try yet and curious selections.  Everything from the Clear Creek Eau de Vie Douglas fir to the selection of bitters was on display and made for a fun side game looking for specific things.  The only thing I couldn’t find that surprised me was a lack of Galliano.  Not a common thing for sure but with the amount of one offs in the selection it was a small surprise.

I had two drinks, a Pineapple train wreck and a Botticelli,  and my mother a French 75 and a coffee.  Here is the drink selection for the day we went, It changes frequently so expect something new by the time you read this.

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The brunch menu was nice and we picked the Ham Plate and the Eggs Purgatory.

I liked the Ham, really wished for more of the biscuits and less of the pimento cheese.  The eggs were great, a little focaccia and marinara.  Mom said the coffee tasted a bit sharp, like they were using espresso beans in the roast, but I think it was more likely the french press.

I would have loved to try a full pizza and will certainly look to get something more substantial next time I go.

I can’t seem to convey how impressive the bar actually was.  Every station was perfect.  All the bitters, juices and items you could need and not a movement was wasted.  I didn’t see the bartender make anything from off the shelf but he did a number of drinks including the three we ordered without having to move a foot.  There was only one guy on duty that morning but there were easily three other stations ready to go for the evening crowd.

The volume of good quality ingredients on that shelf was intimidating.  I hope to one day have a bar that looks that complete.  I could probably have pulled out anything in my current repertoire and had it made in a flash.

The syrups and honey that they use in a lot of their signature drinks really intrigue me and I think next time I go I’m going to try to sample them on their own.  One of my current plans is to start making some more unique simple syrups and growing my own herbs to use in making things like a chocolate mint demerara syrup.

In addition to the alcohol there was an entire shelf of bar guides, cookbooks, mixology manuals and even a whiskey and spirits for dummies.  I can’t say that they’re all for show, Some are pretty well thumbed and there were some pretty major names on there.  (The PDT Cocktail book, Flavor bible and a whole set of Food & Wine guides just to name a few.)

One thing that really interested me; I spotted my favorite vodka on a smaller shelf and knowing that Ryan had also been a co-founder of House Spirits it wasn’t surprising to see Volstead in his bar.  But what the bartender told me was that the whole shelf was the owner’s reserve and that they weren’t allowed to pour from those bottles.  I snapped a photo and there are some very nice and very rare things on there.  I couldn’t identify more than a couple but try it yourself when you go, it’s neat to get a glimpse into what a professional keeps in his private stock.

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