And the award for best pocket neighborhood goes to....?
More fuel has just been added to the flame in the tiny 70th Street pocket in Ballard that Delancey, Honore and Fat Hen call home: Delancey owners Brandon Pettit and Molly Wizenberg are opening a craft bar called Essex in the adjoining space in July make that "some time in August!"
Today Brandon told me that, "Essex is continuing to take shape. We've got a rough outline of our cocktail menu, and we're continuing to fine tune our food menu."
He says he and his crew have been tinkering away, making their own (deep breath) vermouth; amaro; fernet; bitters; root beer and cola; carbonated cocktails; sipping vinegars (perhaps similar to the ones at Portland's stellar Pok Pok); and communal punchbowls, like you'd find at a kitschy Chinese restaurant (and I mean that as a compliment!). And that's just for the drinks, which will be made with from-scratch everything, though Brandon emphasized his hopes to keep things neighborhoody and not too serious. Essentially: a neighborhood bar with really good, craft drinks. They've got a bartender signed up but aren't ready to divulge just yet who it is.
Of course you'll be hungry; to stave the pangs they'll be doing a bar menu with assorted snacky dishes--my personal weakness, bone marrow with parsley salad, was mentioned--along with pickled this-and-that, seasonal salads, hard pretzels (with homemade mustard that Brandon mentioned is already aging), and they're hoping to do housemade goat cheeses, cured meats like bresaola and coppa, but they may or may not be ready by the time the doors swing open this summer. There's also talk of wood-fired dishes like roast chicken served room temp, or Dungeness crab cooked in the wood oven, with aioli for dipping.
What there won't be? Pizza! Brandon told me that Delancey's oven is at max capacity as it is with the current (and seasonal summer patio) tables, so if pizza's what you're in the mood for, a dip into Essex for a cocktail will have to be followed by a stop into Delancey (the two will be joined via Delancey's main dining room, much like Spinasse and Artusi).
Oh, and yes: Like Delancey, the name is another New York reference. Essex is also a Lower East Side street; in fact there's a Delancey-Essex subway stop.