by Gina Luna and Brian Peterson
– The Capitol Hill Times –
“It’s not pretentious, but delicious.”
Without trying, Michael Lee, guitarist of local band the Young Evils and co-owner of Saint John’s Bar & Eatery, summed up the latter’s menu while also creating an excellent tagline.
I first met Lee a year prior on Saint John’s back patio while his band prepped for its performance at the Capitol Hill Block Party.
The back patio is special, but the whole venue is hospitable for warm days like these. The French windows pull back and the front door locks open, allowing the breeze and sunlight to pass through.
Saint John’s other owner, Val Kiossovski, is also in the music scene and a member of the crunk/punk rock band Kultur Shock, so it’s no wonder that the space is popular among musicians and artists.
Before Saint John’s, Kiossovski and Lee worked together at the original Crocodile Café – Kiossovski the bar manager, and Lee a bartender. In 2006, Kiossovski and his wife Lana branched out and opened Solo, a bar in Lower Queen Anne, with Billy Gould and Lee. Located in the theater district, Solo became a principal hang out for the arts community, and Lee said that they hoped to bring that same spirit to Saint Johns when it opened up just over two years ago.
And it has made friends in the arts community. Besides being operated by musicians and artists, Saint John’s regularly hosts parties for the Seattle International Film Festival and events for Annex and other fringe theaters. Saint John’s was also the chosen location of Sub Pop’s Chad Vangaalen’s recent record release performance.
But let’s talk about the food.
The Saint John’s Burger, for example. It holds a 6-oz. Painted Hills beef patty with your choice of Beecher’s Flagship White Cheddar, Tillamook Sharp Cheddar, or Gorgonzola, and is then topped off with red onion jam, aioli, and wild arugula on a Macrina Seeded brioche bun. Oh, and it comes with a bed of hand-cut Yukon Gold potatoes.
Vegetarian diets fare well, too, since Saint John’s gives every burger the option of swapping the meat for a juicy Portobello mushroom.
Bartender Meredith Sibly said that her favorite thing on the menu, excluding brunch options, is the BLT with avocado.
There’s also grilled sausage accompanied by a cauliflower purée, chicory, parmesan, herb oil, and whole grain mustard; tomato soup served with sourdough and butter; a 7-oz. Grilled Guajillo Steak Salad that mingles wild arugula, radish, jalapeno vinaigrette, cotija, avocado, and corn tortilla strips; and, for smaller appetites, the Quillisascut Cheese Plate, which displays three robust, rotating chesses and seasonal treats ($1 of every place sold goes towards the Quillisascut Farm School Scholarship Fund).
“There are lots of great food on the Hill, but we wanted to split the difference between having approachable, affordable food that is also awesome,” Lee said.
Joe Randazzo, Saint John’s head chef, who happens to be Lee’s boyfriend, likes to make everything from scratch and source locally as often as possible.
On the other side of things, if you’re on a liquid diet, Saint Johns offers a wide selection of craft cocktails and beverages (No? That’s not how liquid diets work?).
“I’m developing a summer cocktail for the menu,” said bartender Vanessa Tiemann. “It’s a spicy cucumber drink with Tequila, Saint Germain’s, and a lingering spice to it with a Bonache hot sauce specifically made for this cocktail.”
More things to look forward to this summer at Saint John’s are barbeques on the back patio, weekend brunches, showings of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Monday nights, and relief from the Capitol Hill Block Party main stage that sits one block behind the bar and eatery.
Is your mouth watering yet?
Saint John’s is located on 719 East Pike Street.