Opening just about six weeks ago, Belltown’s No Anchor is only a few blocks from sibling Rob Roy, with both being owned by cocktail power couple Anu and Chris Elford. A companion and I slipped into the ground floor bar recently to sample the drinks and check out the food; below are three impressions from the visit.
The Drinks: Beyond being a cocktail and spirits master, Chris Elford is a certified Cicerone, sorta like a beer sommelier, and that shines here with the bar’s focus on an intriguing beer selection. This visit, there were 17 local and non-local beers on tap, with some served at 42 and some at 52 degrees Fahrenheit. They are listed on the menu, the wall and via a super neat graph, with four axis: Approachable, Esoteric, Modern, and Traditional. This really helps navigate the beers. For example, I had a delicious, rich and silky, Standard Brewing Cascadian Dark Ale that sat near the center of the Approachable/Traditional quadrant. Fun stuff. There’s a short list of bottles, and you can request to see the framed Captain’s List to dive into even more. It’s a beer-lover’s haven, but the cocktails aren’t deficient: you’ll find six, each in some way featuring beer or a traditional beer ingredient. The Galaxy G&T, for example, has gin, Galaxy hops, and botanicals, and is carbonated and pre-bottled. Plus, if you need straight spirits, there are eight bottles behind the bar for easy dispensing, available neat or on ice (Westland’s Peated single malt is a solid choice).
The Food: Don’t just fill up on beer, the bar has a tempting food menu as well, starting with a “Snacks, Finger Food, & General Ballyhoo” section, including some crispy chickpeas with Old Bay seasoning for light nibbling, all the way up to smoked pickled mussels served with burnt garlic aioli. Surfing into larger fares, the bread and boards section features a lush charred eggplant on toast with onions and sorrel. There are 5 “Dishes” for even bigger appetites. I'm told the glazed lamb sweetbreads are popular, made with leeks and salt cabbage and “goodness” (which should always be an essential ingredient). If you’re hungry as a whale, you can eat the entire menu for only $120. The venue just began brunch, too, and I can’t wait to try the wild mushroom hash, with potatoes, herbs, and eggs. The brunching is a boon to folks working in the area. And you can have a beer while you eat!
The Space: Cozied into the first floor of a good-sized building, No Anchor brings a ton of personality into what might otherwise be a cold space. It reminds me, in the best way, of a retired seafaring captain’s home; picture lots of wood from ceiling down, almost like a ship’s cabin. The walls have tall cabinets filled with an array of esoterica and curiosities: insects, a skull, timeworn books, antique beer cans, a baseball glove and more, as if collected on a lifetime of navigating the globe. For seating, a long wooden shared table is near the room's center, with a series of booth tables on one wall, and a long bar rail at the window, as well as an arrowhead-shaped outdoor area with 20 stools and lots of room for standing. In my opinion, of course, it’s best to grab one of the handful of stools at the metal-topped bar, to watch the friendly staff work and the beverages going out to thirsty, happy, patrons.