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Wednesday, October 17, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Taste of the Town / Nancy Leson

Center of the Universe realigns its stars

Last week I watched a backhoe remove the last vestiges of the businesses that once stood sentry at the northwest corner north of the Fremont Bridge, making way for another mixed-use development in the gentrified Republic of Fremont. Then I made my way to the Red Door, closed since February and finally open for business at a new site, one block west of its former incarnation.

The landmark Red Door Alehouse, now known simply as the Red Door, relocated in May when it was carefully lifted and moved to the nearby corner of Evanston Avenue North and North 34th Street. Workers are still putting the final touches on the renovated building, now proudly perched above an as-yet-unopened parking garage, where it looks like a million bucks, though less like the classic joint we once knew.

When you go — and you should — be sure to inspect the broad deck where we'll be sunning ourselves next spring. Then swing open that familiar red door and step inside where, as ever, you may hoist a brew in one hand and a bottle of malt vinegar in the other, preparing to do justice to a mean side of fries.

Framed by the original back-bar, co-owner Alfa Zinkus and his new business partner, Pete Hanning, are back where they belong: pouring pints. But now, in addition to beer and wine, they're serving hard liquor.

Neighborly and noteworthy is the Red Door's new family-friendly dining room, though children get last call — and the beddie-bye boot — at 9 p.m. There's even a kids menu, starring "Giant Troll Fingers & Fries" (that's chicken fingers to those of us over age 12). The expanded standard menu still sports all my favorites: the steamed mussels, that honking Cobb salad, those great burgers, and did I mention the fries? Now located at 3401 Evanston Ave. N., Seattle (206-547-7521), the Red Door serves lunch, dinner and a limited late-night menu, with weekend brunch in the offing.

The beloved Fremont Noodle House, closed in July and recently demolished, has been relocated (to Ballard), reopened (last month) and renamed (Thaiku). Some of you will recognize the Old Ballard space occupied by Thaiku (5410 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle; 206-706-7807) from its days as Julia's. Though given the amount of scaffolding now obscuring the storefront, there's also a chance you might walk right by. Once inside, the familiar sights and scents that drew Fremonsters and others to the noodle house still beckon, as does the "famous" neon noodles sign, now hanging in Thaiku's window.

Owner Jon Alberts — with the help of Fremont Noodle House's designer, Graham Graham — has recreated the look and feel of the original in this larger space. Now doing their Thai thing in Ballard, the noodle house's chefs are back in the kitchen, preparing fragrant noodles served in soups and stir-fries. Of course, they've also brought back such signature dishes as mieng kham. Thaiku is open for lunch and dinner daily.

When City People's Mercantile closed its Fremont store early this year, Irish eyes were smiling on Kilarney native Andy Kelleher and Belfast's Brian Patton. Their popular pub, The Dubliner, yet another redevelopment refugee, has since moved into the former City People's space (3517 Fremont Ave. N., Seattle; 206-548-1508). You won't find any hardware, kitchen gadgets, cool kids toys or earthy women's wear here, but there is a jukebox and pool table, plenty of Emerald Isle camaraderie, and the food and drink to go with it.

The Dubliner is open daily at 11:30 a.m., serving lunch and dinner. Traditional Irish breakfasts — eggs with Irish bacon, Irish sausages, black pudding, fried tomato and O'Brien potatoes — pad the menu on the weekend.

Nancy Leson can be reached at 206-464-8838 or nleson@seattletimes.com.

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