Little Tin celebrated its grand opening on bustling Ballard Avenue corridor last December, and in the time since has peeled back many tins and poured many cocktails. I recently stopped in, with my wife and a couple of friends, and here are three impressions of the visit.
The Drinks: There are ten choices on a list of Garden Cocktails, with a number of creative ingredients harkening back to Hawaii, a theme that makes sense as the owners are originally from Kauai. The Devil’s Claw was a refresher ideal for spring, with silver tequila, ginger liqueur, a cinnamon and clove simple syrup, Lilikoi (Hawaiian passion fruit syrup), Angostura bitters and a cinnamon tincture, all over lots of ice and garnished with fresh citrus. The waves of spices flowed under every sip, without being overwhelming. Another one of the ten is The Pharmacist, a bartender’s daily inspiration (when we there, it was a bourbon, blueberry and orange smash). There are ten wines available, too, highlighted by some sparkling Spanish Cavas, and a few beers, including Maui Brewing’s coconut porter.
The Food: The majority of the fare offered is literally served out of tins, as the menu takes its inspiration from the imported oval tins of various seafoods, mostly from Portugal, with one from Spain. For fish lovers, it’s pretty neat. Our drinking companions shared the trout fillets from Portugal, which came in a pickle-y sunflower oil, and said they enjoyed the unique presentation. All the tins are accompanied by a warm baguette, beloved Maui onion chips, a creamy house aioli and a small mound of Hawaiian red salt; the trout also was accompanied by a lemon wedge. There are a couple of rotating snacks (panko-crusted calimari was that night’s choice), and those Maui chips available with a side of the aioli for dipping, the latter was the only veggie food option on the menu on this visit.
The Space: While the drinks and food are nifty, the style and décor of Little Tin steals the show. It’s almost as if you’re walking into the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, if it were set in the 1940’s. That equals loads of plants–real and artificial–between tables and in various other spots, a brick wall with Maxfield Parish-esque prints here and there, a set of sophisticated wingback chairs and couch near the door, a wood burning stove, candles, low-lit, Tiffany-style small lights and cement floors with oversized rugs. But the pinnacle is the half of a wooden house built into the room; the structure contains the restrooms, and the bar is situated on another side via a ramp. It’s as if a remote beach lodging were transported indoors, and it is amazing. For more seating, there are wooden-topped tables along a wall, and a few taller tables and other seats here and there. At the time of my visit, the back patio was still under construction, with a plan to open in summer.