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Friday, December 21, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Neighborhood Deals

Grady's fans go to catch the culinary game

Special to The Seattle Times

Grady's Grillhouse


2307 24th Ave. E., Seattle

206-726-5968.

American/Pub

$$

Recommended

Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Mondays-Thursdays, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Fridays, noon-2 a.m. Saturdays, noon-11 p.m. Sundays.

Mastercard and Visa / full bar / smoking permitted in bar and pool room / obstacles to access include two steps to restrooms.

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A middle-aged couple arrived ahead of the crowd on a Saturday night at Grady's Grillhouse in Montlake. The Sonics were just taking the floor on the big-screen TV. The couple took a window seat, next to the fake, flocked Christmas tree festooned with purple and gold Husky ornaments. They ordered a couple of Snow Cap ales from the tap. When the drinks arrived, the woman asked the waiter, "What's that bird on your hat?" The guy she was with slunk a little lower in his chair.

The waiter looked dumbfounded. Then, enunciating very carefully, as you would to someone whose native language isn't English, he said, "That's a Seahawk."

"We are not a sports bar," owner Chris Grady emphatically states, "except when there's a Husky home game." And I believe him. Most customers on this Saturday night were oblivious to the TV screens. Even the fire-warmed billiard room in the back was seeing little action. Young and old were clearly there for the heaping platefuls of the kind of food people used to have time and energy to cook at home, prepared by chef Cindy Thompson, who's been in the kitchen at Grady's since it opened in 1990.

She makes soups from scratch, and brownies, too. The mashed potatoes are real. Fries are hand-cut. Pizza is hand-stretched. The Parmesan-laden Caesar salad has a dressing with so much personality you'll want to buy a bottle of it — and you can ($5.95).

A whole page of the menu is devoted to burgers. The rest of the roster runs from Buffalo wings to Surf and Turf (five deep-fried prawns and an 8-ounce sirloin steak for $12.95).

Want spaghetti? Grady's has it, along with Irish stew, roast turkey with apple stuffing, even a falafel sandwich. The house specialty is Kelly's Big-K prime-rib sandwich, said to be a facsimile of the French-dip sandwich made famous 50 years ago by Perry Kelly and sold on this very block.

So repeat after me, Grady's is not a sports bar. Still, it's not a bad idea to brush up on your team logos, ladies, if your date says, "Hey, let's head over to Grady's tonight," especially if you're inclined to go out with him again.

Check please

Cup of soup: Potato-cheddar, the choice du jour, was creamy, well-constructed and satisfyingly rich.

Kelly's prime-rib sandwich with fries: Surely this is not the same sandwich that had folks queuing up outside Kelly's years ago. The thick-sliced meat is gray and there's not much of it. The au jus tastes like watery beef bouillon. On the bright side, it comes with your choice of gorgeous golden-brown hand-cut fries (generously portioned), Cindy's soup du jour or the sublime Caesar.

Lamb burger: Cinnamon and nutmeg give an intriguing flavor boost to this flame-broiled patty, which might have been juicier if cooked to medium instead of well-done. It comes with lettuce, tomato and mayo on a toasted Kaiser roll. Add fries or fresh coleslaw for $1.95, a Caesar for $2.95.

Brownie sundae: We got a huge corner piece, crusty on the edges, soft and slightly chewy in the center — a perfect brownie, topped with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Itemized bill, meal for two:

Cup of soup: $3.50

Prime rib sandwich with fries: $10.95

Lamb burger: $6.95

Caesar: $2.95

Brownie sundae: $3.50

2 beers: $7.50

Tax: $3.29

Total: $38.64

Providence Cicero: providencecicero@aol.com.

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