The Admiral Junction is alive! That might be the first time anyone has said that, and no, we're not confusing the Admiral with the nearby Alaska Junction, which the rest of Seattle discovered about a decade ago.
Brickyard Bar-B-Q 2308 California Ave. S.W., 933-3109, brickyardbarbq.com WEST SEATTLE
Aside from the late, great Admiral Benbow, the Admiral Pub, Mission, and the second-run Admiral Twin cinema, there's never been much reason to hit West Seattle's most prominent northern commercial district. Until now: The Benbow has been resurrected as the deliciously schizophrenic Heartland Cafe/Benbow Room (see review, page 31); the Shipwreck Tavern next door is the perfect conjoined twin; the Twin now hosts the occasional rock or burlesque show; Mission's got a couple well-appointed culinary neighbors; and the Yen Wor has become one of the city's most consistently crowded karaoke palaces.
Then there's Brickyard Bar-B-Q, which might feature the best layout of any fair-weather restaurant/bar in not just the peninsula, but all of Seattle.
As you peer at the Brickyard from its iron-fenced entrance, to the left is a shedlike structure, where they cook everything. To the right is another shedlike structure—that's the bar, which connects its patrons to the brick patio (hence, "brickyard") in the center via roll-up garage doors. On this patio are stools and tall tables, carved from wood. There's a sheltered portion because, well, it rains a lot in Seattle, even in summer; but the back lawn area is entirely al fresco, and dotted with picnic tables.
The property was once a day care; it's now, as one bartender puts it, "adult night care." It looks like a scrap yard, but it's all very deliberate: It's a loose, sticky, sort of Southern—and therefore very not Seattle—vibe they're going for here, and they absolutely nail it. There are no tap handles, but plenty of canned beer (some for under $3), sports on TV, and the Rolling Stones and Son Volt on the stereo. It's the kind of place where you want to traipse in wearing a cutoff muscle shirt, shades, and an old baseball cap—for comfort, not for effect.
Food is uneven. On a sunny Tuesday night, the green pea salad, advertised as adorned with bacon, had none—a major meltdown at a supposed temple of meat. The macaroni and cheese was smooth and creamy, but not quite cheesy enough, and the spicy sauce lacked an over-the-top kick—although for people who don't like to feel as though their tongue is ablaze while eating (i.e., most people), this might come as welcome news. The honey-buttered jalapeño cornbread, however, was sensational, and the combo platter (chicken, brisket, pork) provided ample evidence that the Brickyard's cooks know their way around a smoker. The portion isn't what you'd get at, say, Willie's Taste of Soul, but it was the perfect amount for two, and, with the three sides, came at an extremely reasonable price ($15.95).
If the food were truly great, we'd inquire about pitching a tent on that back lawn and living there. Until it improves, we'll blissfully belly up and rent a stool at the best-conceived bar-b-q joint in town.