Sun Liquor, which has long considered food so tangential to its guiding concept that the original menu at its Summit Avenue location advised patrons not to order from it, is planning to ramp up the culinary offerings at its new distillery.
Owner Michael Klebeck has hired Ramon Shiloh--an artist, musician, and gadabout high-end chef--to run the food program at Sun Liquor Distillery on East Pike Street, a venue that's twice the size of the cramped cocktail lounge--where the kitchen consists of a microwave.
"The best food we have at the old location is free peanuts," Klebeck, who also runs Top Pot Doughnuts, readily admits. "It's not enough room to make cereal."
Thus far, Shiloh's repertoire has been limited to a hamburger and fries. But Shiloh and Klebeck say more elaborate dishes are in the works.
"It's so odd," Shiloh says. "It's one burger and one fry. But my attitude is, 'I am a chef.' I just happen to be at Sun. I pride myself on the food I create there."
Shiloh, who worked at restaurants in Los Angeles before becoming a private chef in Seattle, also handles weekend breakfasts at the Waterwheel Lounge. Shiloh says he's one of the few professionally trained chefs willing to serve five-star meals at a dive bar. "It's fun to pursue these locations nobody else would think of," Shiloh says.
What drew Shiloh to Sun was the distillery's mission: He approves of Sun's emphasis on making its cocktails from scratch and cultivating an atmosphere Klebeck describes as a "serene, vintage feel."
After five years, Klebeck says, the bar is ready to bring food into its philosophical fold. "Everything from what we serve to how we present it, it's all part of the Sun Liquor experience," Klebeck says. "We want to be proud of it."
Klebeck anticipates adding gourmet burgers to the menu in the next few weeks, and plans to later incorporate foods "with that '40s and '50s style." Klebeck's been studying early Canlis menus for inspiration, and has been struck by the overlap of Polynesian flavors in the restaurant's food and drink. "We're seeing what they did with mashed potatoes," he says.
While Sun Liquor Distillery hasn't yet released its own gin, it's serving cocktails and burgers every day between 5 p.m. and 2 a.m. The distillery's also adding outdoor seating next month. "We want people to stay here if they're hungry," Shiloh explains.