Brouwer's Cafe

A beer bar laden with heavy anticipation, high hopes, and a bit of Brussels lace is finally open. Billed as a "Flemish grand cafe," it sits, brooding, across the street from the former Redhook Brewery in Fremont, without so much as a sign (yet) to mar the exterior. But this latest enterprise of the enterprising owners of Wallingford's beer emporium Bottleworks mean to make it Seattle's most gezellig Flemish cafe. Entry is through a heavy wooden door; a replica of Brussels' Manneken Pis greets you inside. Mind the traffic on your way in; the kitchen is to the right of the entryway, the dining/bar area to the left, and food-carrying servers trot briskly between them. You aim to the left, where you'll see a modern, high-ceilinged room with booths up one side, a long beer bar down the other, a short cocktail bar at the far end, a cluster of tables in the middle, and a horseshoe-shaped mezzanine level up above, where smokers may congregate. The long bubinga-wood bar is a sturdy place to perch and peruse the array of beer taps running down the wall: about 45 so far (13 of them dispensing Belgian brews) and room for more. Bottled beers are visible in the back-bar coolers, many Belgians, in 750ml bottles for sharing. Attention to detail rules the day. Most Belgian beers are traditionally served in their unique glass, making for near-collisions behind the bar as staff seek out the proper glass for your beer. The glass is rinsed before filling, to avoid overfoaming and aid head retention, just as it's done in Belgium. The cocktail bar offers a range of single-malt Scotch whiskies. The menu features a straightforward choice of pub food and Belgian classics, including mussels and frites, waterzooi (chicken stewed in leeks and cream), and cheese croquettes. Make a point of checking out Brouwer's during the weeklong Hard Liver Barleywine Festival starting April 8, featuring more than 40 of these high-alcohol sipping brews. Proost! Brouwer's Cafe, 400 N. 35th St., 206-267-2437. FREMONT

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