The Watering Hole: Black Bottle Postern, 919 Bellevue Way N.E., 425-223-5143, BELLEVUE
The Atmosphere: Black Bottle's original Belltown location is moody, quaint, and sexy. Its Bellevue digs on the ground floor of Avalon Towers are polished and pretty. Fine touches fit the aesthetic of its older sibling: fresh flowers, a fireplace, rustic wood floors. But this refined Eastside locale smartly blends into downtown Bellevue, with its chain restaurants, busy mall, and J. Crew–adorned couples strolling the strip.
The Barkeep: Steve Beck is fresh on this job, but an industry vet. He's worked as a corporate trainer for more than 20 restaurants, and was most recently on the staff at Sky Ultra Lounge. A wine rep he worked with at Sky recommended the Black Bottle gig. "This is one of the best places I've worked," he says. Friendly and professional, Beck took notes as we chatted, then moved through the dining room with ease, trotting between tables and the bar.
The Drink: Rejecting two empty glasses after close inspections up to the light revealed spots, Beck succeeded in pouring his current favorite red, the Benton-Lane Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley. He likes it because it's light, not too complex, and pairs well with seafood—especially his current dish of choice, the seven-spice shrimp.
The Verdict: Sure, Black Bottle offers a dozen beers on tap and a full bar. But it would be a small crime not to opt for a couple of glasses of wine. The pinot was clean and pleasing, tasting a little like marionberry pie. The place rotates a trio of wine kegs, stocks dozens of bottles, and offers a solid menu: Bright spots are the perfectly seasoned broccoli and pillowy flatbread with kicky sausage, mozzarella, and a pile of dandelion greens.
Black Bottle Postern markets an unpretentious ambience with shareable plates and well-picked pours. While downtown Bellevue might never be able to sustain an authentically easy-breezy gastro-tavern, the smartly priced menu and accessible wine list here invite repeat visits.