Does Seattle Really Need a Viper Room?

Plus, cask beer this weekend, and wild boar.

Cask Beer Fest This Weekend

2008 Washington Cask Beer Festival

Sat., March 22

Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion, 305 Harrison St.

Session 1: noon–4 p.m., Session 2: 6–10 p.m.

(one ticket required for each session)

$40 at door/$35 adv.

This weekend brings one of the most cherished of all beer dates in the Seattle area, the Washington Beer Commission's 2008 Cask Beer Festival. Though there are more and more opportunities to taste cask beer at pubs all around Seattle, nothing compares to Cask Fest.

Cask beer is personality plus. After fermenting, the beer is transferred to cask with all its flotsam and jetsam. This sediment further develops the beer and gives it a soft, natural carbonation. (More on cask beer HERE, along with a mini-roundup of last year's fest.) If you've found yourself intrigued by really good wine or geek out over handmade cheese or tried a beer this year that made you stop and think, go check this festival out. It'll make a beer lover out of anyone.

Off the top of my head, breezing down the list, make sure you don't miss: Big Time Brewing's Mere Mortal, Scuttlebutt's 10 Below, Schooner Exact's 3 Grid IPA, and Water Street's Mayor McPrior's Irish Stout. And anything Scotch Ale. I've sampled the dark-chocolate beast that is the 9 lb. Porter from Georgetown Brewing already this year out of cask. It is so choice.

-- Jess Thomson

Does Seattle Really Need a Viper Room?

There was a time when the Viper Room was cool—about the same time waffle tees, flannels, and shorts became de rigueur. It's now most famous for a drug death, and the once hot (now not) mess that is the Pussycat Dolls. And since it's no longer owned by Johnny Depp, why would anyone care about this over-the-hill L.A. club? Because it's now owned by Hard Rock Cafe spawn Harry Morton, he of the TexMex chain (cringe) Pink Taco (cringe). Harry wants to franchise the Viper Room, and his (cringe) Pink Tacos (cringe) can't be far behind. Possible locations include Seattle and Bellevue.

Do we really need a Viper Room? Isn't that Don Johnson place on the Hill token enough for the Seattle douche contingent?

-- Maggie Dutton

I Love Wild Boar

Dear Wild Boar: Thank you for existing.

Dear Quinn's: Thank you for doing such wonderful things with said boar.

I've always been a big fan of the wild boar ragu at Volterra, and the best meal I've had in my life involved wild boar and bottomless glasses of Valpolicella in Siena, Italy. Though the term "gastropub" sort of sets off my bullshit-o-meter, when I heard about wild boar sloppy joes at Quinn's on Capitol Hill, I was damn curious.

Unexpectedly, I had the chance to finally try one last night at Showbox SoDo, where the Soundbite exhibition was taking place. Put together by Caffé Vita and other members of the Seattle chapter of the Washington Restaurant Association, the event was a smart mix of live music and exceptional food, brought together as a benefit for the Vera Project and ProStart. Only bands whose members work in restaurants were allowed to submit demos for consideration, and blessedly, the musicians selected happen to work at places like the Palace Kitchen, Tavolta, El Gaucho, and Via Tribunali.

The Tribunali crew even went so far as to set up their wood-burning pizza oven outside (something they also did last summer in the parking lot of Havana while that bar's proprietor, Quentin Ertel, screened Goodfellas on the wall outside), and every restaurant involved did an impressive job in general with presentation. Coastal Kitchen had purple-skinned Peruvian potatoes cradling albacore ceviche, and El Gaucho tended to a steady line of folks waiting for their perfectly rare sirloin mini-sandwiches, but it was Quinn's mixture of ground boar, and rich, dense tomato sauce garnished with french-fried onions that was the stuff of carnivorous dreams. There's no way I'll be able to go to a show at Neumo's again without making time to stop in for one.

-- Hannah Levin

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