Nestled into the first floor of the Expo apartments (the new condo where the QFC used to be) directly across the street from Seattle Center, Triumph Bar (114 Republican St.; 206.420.1791; triumphbar.com) has a Northwest modern décor that balances rough wood tables (wood reclaimed from the renovated Packard Building at 12th and Pine), concrete pillars and bright yellow floral wallpaper on select walls. It’s an inviting space—a feeling that’s underlined by the attentive and friendly staff—and one that provides a perfect spot to meet friends for drinks and some tasty nibbles before or after a play, concert, the ballet or a film at SIFF.
Triumph was opened last August by brothers Brandon and Jim Marsh, both of whom are sommeliers: Brandon was last at Seattle’s Olivar, and Jim was wine director at New York’s Fishtail. With such skilled oenophilic backgrounds, it’s no surprise the bar’s wine list is well curated. But it’s also approachable, with many bottles in the $30–$50 range, and with a slight slant toward comfortably delicious Italian wines. A wonderful recent example was the full and fruity 2010 Lucchetti Lacrima di Morro D’alba ($10 glass/$37 bottle) from the sadly underexposed Marche region.
Triumph also boasts a small but creative and nicely balanced cocktail list that like the wine, has a slight Italian influence. Take the Rye Witch ($13), for example. It socializes the sweet burliness of rye with the golden herbiness of Italian liqueur Strega, and then tops it off with carbonated sherry for an intriguing and layered drink. You’ll also find a special cocktail in a “jug” (a big glass vessel behind the bar) every day. I had a whiskey toddy ($5) out of the jug, and it was warm, well-spiced and accented with fresh lemon.
The food menu, though not extensive either, is put together with care by chef Jonathan Doar (former sous chef at Boston’s Spiga). There is an excellent cheese selection (starting at three for $12)—go for the cow’s milk Stelvio from Italy’s Alto Adige region, if it’s offered—as well as a cured meat menu. You’ll also find a small-plates menu featuring carnivore tempters such as beef carpaccio with Parmigiano-Reggiano, egg yolk and Dijon ($10) and a few vegetarian options, including the tidy Emiglia Panini ($10), which changes daily, according to the chef’s desires.