Wanting to stretch our legs but not wanting to face a hill on the way home (we do live on a ridge, you know), we set out on a familiar path along Phinney Avenue, heading north from 9 Cranes Inn. We weren’t starving yet, but knew that we would eventually find ourselves eating dinner at one of the many establishments that line the main drag through our Phinney Ridge/Greenwood neighborhood of north Seattle.
The challenge for us is always choosing between old favorites – where everybody knows your name – and places that have opened recently that we really should try out, if only to determine whether we should recommend them to our guests. On this chilly but dry spring (that’s what the calendar says, anyway), evening, we set a brisk pace for about 20 minutes, bypassing several places that we could’ve stopped, but held out for a little spot we know about but hadn’t yet tried: Teacher’s Lounge – on Greenwood Avenue just north of 85th Street.
You could miss it if you’re engaged in conversation – yeah, we did. After doubling back we double checked the menu outside to make sure that we could make a dinner out of the trip if we so chose. Nothing fancy or screaming, “date-night dinner,” but certainly enough variety and sustenance. It didn’t hurt that we had arrived while happy hour was in full force, and would be until 6:37 (every night). Besides, we’re in it first and foremost for the cocktails – at least the innkeeper’s husband is, as the innkeeper reserves the right to keep a clear head in anticipation of preparing breakfast at zero dark thirty the next day.
So Teachers Lounge – get it? Chalkboards and lockers and paraphernalia from your junior high days. Just enough to set the mood but not so much that you’re like, “okay, nice place to visit, but….” Let’s get to the point. There are five fabulous things about this place:
1. Cocktails – Stop in for just a drink and or a snack. The drinks are tasty and well thought-out. Clearly craft cocktails, as is the fashion, but fun and creative, not pretentious or pricey.
2. Owners – Perryn and Desiree Wright do it all – concocting tasty bites that really do suffice for dinner if you like (I enjoyed my “Sanitary Joe,” a neater version of the sloppy kind. Mike leaped at the chance for an upscale grilled baloney sandwich, since he never gets them at home); mixing drinks; and chatting up patrons. They know every bartender in town and can tell you the best places to visit in other Seattle neighborhoods.
3. The Vibe – Urban cool meets neighborhood hangout. This is not a sports bar. Mercifully, there’s not a TV in sight. The feel is simple-stylish but not fancy. The music is energetic and eclectic and adjusted to the evening’s mood – lower volume for low-key evenings of meeting the person on the next barstool; higher on a Friday night when everyone is ready to let off a little steam.
4. Food – Nibble on fresh veggies and homemade onion/fennel dip, or make a meal on “Crack & Cheese” or the multi-cultural special of the day. We really, really loved the sound of the bacon-bourbon bread pudding dessert, but were too full and too far gone into cocktail land to give that course its due.
5. Proximity – 25 blocks from the inn sounds far, but most of the trek is flat and for an evening stroll, it’s great. Lots to see along the way, working the calories off before and after….you can stop for coffee at several places on the way back…. We set out at 5 p.m. and were home before 9 – a great date night that allows your innkeeper to rise and shine in time to make breakfast….or you to enjoy a full day of Seattle sights.