I’m pretty much done with craft bartending. If I walk into a bar like the Diller Room or Tavern Law or the Hideout, and the bartender is wearing a vest and an arm garter and a monocle, top hat, a cane, a watch fob, a cape, riding boots, driving gloves, a monkey on his shoulder, a codpiece, and a scarf, I sigh sadly and resign myself to waiting at least 20 minutes to get my drink as the august apothecary of intoxication gradually mixes some $16 concoction which doubtlessly contains house-made bitters. I thought bitters only came in two flavors: Angostura and Peychaud. Apparently I’m a provincial rube who doesn’t realize that bitters come in every flavor including mirepoix, gummy bear, and your mom.
It’s even worse if the bartender has a mustache. I really, seriously, do not get how mustaches got lumped in with precious, asexual hipster bullshit. After all, men with waxed mustaches are hard men, like John L. Sullivan or Theodore Roosevelt or Otto von Bismarck: men who are much more likely to strangle lions to death and have tertiary syphilis and unify empires and bust trusts than they are to wear a cardigan and listen to Mumford & Sons.
So it was with great trepidation that I entered Damn the Weather. With its oddly specific name and fancy cocktail list and giant ice cubes, I expected a maddening descent into twee mayhem. But the food menu seemed interesting so we decided to press our luck.
We started with chicken fat fries ($8). These are pretty much like regular fries, but with a savory undercurrent. Unlike French fries fried in suet or duck fat, chicken fat doesn’t swing its dick around (or cloaca, rather), but you just can’t get this kind of flavor from frying in any kind of vegetable oil. The chicken fat fries were crisp shoestrings and they came in a cone of wax paper nestled in a parfait glass. The presentation was too precious for my taste: I’m bored with frites served in a cone. If you want to impress me, send out your French fries in a hypercone. With a tesseract of housemade quantum ketchup.
Beef Heart Tartare ($12) was great. A neat loaf of finely diced beef heart was served with a very orange egg yolk floating atop it. When mixed together, this was unctuous and beefy like Channing Tatum, but a pile of minced cow offal is much better at portraying inner conflict than Channing Tatum is. Big crunchy sheets of what the menu billed as “sourdough crackers” but which really tasted like Munchos potato chips were provided for scooping up the tartare. The only aspect of this dish I didn’t like was the droopy pile of used-up tea leaves they garnished it with for some reason: they didn’t offer much flavor and they looked gross. At first glance I thought that these were fried sage but unfortunately no.
Celery salad ($10) was less refreshing than I hoped it would be, though it was killer nonetheless. A notebook sheaf of sliced celery was tossed in a creamy dressing, with lots of anchovy: the unapologetically fishy flavor was like an obvious hardon in a pair of tight jeans.
A reuben ($12) was the very paragon of this sandwich, an exemplar of its breed. Razor thin slices of corned beef were piled up in squamous layers, salty and smoky, draped with a caul of melted swiss, and a crisp bale of sauerkraut, on toasted rye bread which was cut too thinly to possibly maintain its integrity, yet somehow did.
The thing I liked the least was tajarin ($12). Normally I scarf down pasta like a Biggest Loser contestant, and this dish at first seemed promising: we were served a heaping tangle of very soft and supple egg noodles, with butter, diced chives, and uni. Unfortunately, sea urchin is such a polarizing ingredient that it’s going to be impossible for me to not get complaints about anything I say, so fuck it: I hate uni. Yes, yes, I know, it’s an aphrodisiac, etc. etc., but midgets are aphrodesiacs too, and you don’t see people garnishing pasta with Peter Dinklage. When used sparingly, sea urchin is a thoughtful tool for adding a nebulous briny and savory flavor, thus making any dish taste like the beach. The problem is that uni is like cilantro: NO ONE EVER USES JUST A LITTLE. Instead, the tajarin was studded with big smeary orange globs of urchin, which no amount of stirring could successfully incorporate into the bowl.
Dessert was drinking caramel ($6). This drink is fucking ridiculous. You get a coffee mug full of thick, sweet, melted dulce de leche, made interesting with the addition of Mexican spices and a golf ball of ice cream floating serenely in the midst of it all like the Unseeing Eye of Ben & Jerry. There is just no goddamned way to make this a sensible dessert option. It tastes like you are actually guzzling a gallon can of hot caramel sauce, purloined, perhaps, from a Menchie’s. The spices are a great addition but maybe they should either sell this stuff in smaller quantites, e.g a shot glass, or thin it with milk. Preferably skim milk.
Damn the Weather has an ambitious menu and the bartenders dress like regular people, instead of steampunk villains, and the gigantic ice cubes, while totally evil in their mastodon-entrapping and Titanic-sinking ways, are actually quite useful to chill a glass of whiskey without watering it down. If there isn’t a Sounders game later, go to Damn the Weather. Otherwise, avoid Pioneer Square like the plague since, you know, fuck soccer: our goal in the USA should be to adopt Europe’s social safety net and environmental legislation and DOC protections, not its effete sports.
Rating: 8 vests out of 10
Damn the Weather is located at 116 1st Ave S
Damn the Weather does not take reservations, but they can be prank called at 206-946-1283