The Atmosphere: I feel like the stretch of Greenwood>"/>
The Watering Hole: Prost!, 7311 Greenwood Ave. N., 706-5430, PHINNEY RIDGE
Kyle Houk Magical Whiskey
The Atmosphere: I feel like the stretch of Greenwood Avenue that lay between North 85th Street and Phinney Avenue North is a hidden treasure for food and fun in Seattle. It seems like it's hardly ever brought up when the topic of conversation turns to nightlife and dining. Anthony Bourdain just ended the second season of his new show, The Layover, with a very fun episode about Seattle. He mentioned just about every neighborhood, medium-sized and up, and name-dropped, if not visited, a few notable restaurants and bars in each. Greenwood was mentioned exactly one time (and that in passing) among the oft-fawned over Ballards, Capitol Hills and U Districts of the world. And Lake Cities and Rainier Valleys, too?! What gives? Perhaps it's the difficult, transfer-heavy bus journey it takes to get there. Perhaps it's the residential rows of houses filled with families, children and puppies which lay just a few yards off to either side of Greenwood Avenue. Whatever the reason, I simply can't understand how such little respect is paid to an awesome strip of city which contains Naked City Taphouse, Baranof, Gainsbourg, Wing Dome, 74th Street Ale House, Red Mill Burgers and at least one representative from most world cuisines. Prost! is among the hidden treasures of Greenwood.
Upon entering, the heavy aroma of sauerkraut fills the nostrils. Surely years must pass before an entire room is stained with an odor, and for some reason this makes Prost! Germanically-legitimate in my mind. The space is small, long and narrow. There's only a few Oktoberfest-style picnic tables and perhaps a half dozen seats at the bar. The small area makes meeting and chatting with complete strangers much easier, as does the enormous glass beverage dispenser the bartender would strain to haul out from the kitchen (more to come on the lethal contents of this beverage container later).
The Barkeep: Rachel Henthorn is endearingly bashful at first, but quickly warms up to even a mediocre conversationalist such as myself. She's originally from Maine, has lived in Seattle for about three years and sadly is planning to become a Mainer once more in a few short weeks. The night I visited, she sported a bright yellow Night of the Living Dead T-shirt to accentuate her bright red, shoulder-length hair. She got her first tattoo after moving to Seattle. Then came a second tat, and before long a sleeve was born. "There's so many great artists out here," she said smiling.
So why is she leaving our beautiful city? "I miss having four seasons and my family," Henthorn said with resolve. That really is a shame, because Henthorn, like Greenwood, is a hidden treasure. In addition to her job at Prost! (which means cheers in German), she works at The Pine Box in Capitol Hill and the Neptune in the U District. Her work ethic and multi-tasking skills were on vivid display the night I visited. In addition to pouring drinks and humoring an obnoxious reporter, Henthorn did all the cooking (in the shoebox-sized kitchen), waitressing and washing dishes, too.
The Drink: Let's return to the large, glass beverage container Henthorn lugged from the kitchen. It reminded me of an antique iced tea or lemonade dispenser, flat-sided, spigot on the bottom and straight out of Fried Green Tomatoes or the Gump residence. Held within this chamber of delights were about three gallons of Jack Daniels. This was no ordinary bourbon, though. Filling the jar to the brim, luxuriously large layers of golden raisins, cinnamon sticks and orange slices steeped their flavors into the magical potion. Henthorn chose to make me a Hot Toddy with the sweet elixir. One shot of the infused whiskey, one half shot of a German honey liqueur called Bärenjäger, a splash of water and lemon joined forces to warm my heart and soul. It was delicious, and deliciously lethal as a few painless straight shots of the magic Jack would soon attest.
The Verdict: I didn't mention the food, but it was delicious, too. The menu has a few entree-style dishes, but for the most part it consists of small plates of German sausages, salads and pretzels. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, and a lone wolf should not be surprised if, by night's end, he leaves the tavern with a few new friends.