Mike Whisenhunt

A Season of Fresh Flavors and Tiki Concoctions at Brimmer & Heeltap

If April brought us rain showers (and Seattleites can all attest that it did), here’s to hoping the rest of May brings all kinds of colorful flora, sunshine, and patio season vibes. We’re all restless for nights spent out in the garden and around the fire pit; we look forward to sharing many of these with you in the coming months. Read on for a little peek at how we’ve been gearing up for the wondrous spring and summer months ahead.

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At B&H, there’s a level of playfulness in everything we do. We have a lot of fun concocting new drinks and testing ingredients for new dishes that our guests get to experience, after all. Our talented bar team is definitely embracing a lighthearted approach to building drinks right now; Kate and Brian have been hard at work concocting tiki-inspired cocktails for our brunch guests.

B&H Bar Manager Brian Hibbard predicts that 2017 will be a year where we see more tropical drinks in general, predicting that “more rum, more tiki, more pineapple, and more drinks that make you start empathizing with those who wear Tommy Bahama” will be on trend in the coming months. Bartender Kate Mcmahon happily agrees, explaining that she was first drawn to tropical flavors as a way to escape Seattle’s drizzly winter vibes. “I think it was me trying to escape winter somehow and imagining myself on a tropical beach somewhere, anywhere, sipping island booze and feeling so relaxed – and wanting others to feel that way,” she says.

The next time you come in for brunch be sure to try Ape of My Eye, a riff on a tiki classic made with rum, banana liqueur, cinnamon, and fire.

In the kitchen, spring flavors have taken hold and many dishes boast beautiful, delicious ingredients native to the Pacific Northwest. Our spring salad changes nearly every week depending on what foraged goodies Foraged and Found brings to us. Nettles, maple blossoms, miners lettuce, peas, opal basil, fiddlehead ferns, and other wild greens are making Chef’s seasonally-inspired dishes sing right now.

Chef’s spicy beef rib features a fantastic homemade bbq sauce, falling-off-the-bone-tender meat, and a bright and satisfying accompaniment of kale slaw with pickled cipollini onions. The culinary team brines these beautiful Painted Hills beef ribs for twelve hours, slow cooks them lovingly for about 8 more hours, before finishing this beautiful piece of meat on the grill. You have to be willing to get just a little bit messy when sharing this dish with friends and family. It’s bbq done the B&H way, with tons of flavor and care.

Although our food offerings change constantly, Chef Mike vowed long ago to keep his beloved steak tartare on as a menu mainstay. We’re happy to share that this already delicious snack has been elevated further with help from some seriously creative culinary efforts. The steak tartare you know and love is now topped with grated egg yolk that has been soy-cured and dehydrated, adding layers of umami flavor to this excellent dish.

Freshness is paramount during springtime in Seattle kitchens, and ours has so many gorgeous seasonal offerings for you to delight in. Tapioca puff chips dusted with a blend of dehydrated nettles, poblano peppers, carrot tops and garlic bring a zesty, crave-worthy edge to our snack list. Asian pear, beets, marinated root vegetables, and huckleberries are incorporated lovingly into many a dish. Come in soon to taste something new and unexpected!

It’s our sincere pleasure to serve you no matter what the season, but we can all agree that B&H feels extra magical this time of year. We look so forward to your next visit.

Author: Caitlyn Edson

Images: Will Foster



Spring Things

“Spring looks good on you guys,” one diner commented during a recent visit. He had just shared a plate of our new-to-the-menu English pea hummus with his dining companions, and bread, rice cakes, and scallops were on the way. 

With fresh flowers lining the walls of the dining room, our garden patio open, and a pantry filled with bright, leafy ingredients, we think spring looks pretty good on us too.

One cannot help but notice just how very green Seattle is looking these days. Lush flora is springing to life again after a cold, rainy winter, and beloved sunshiny days are getting Seattleites excited to spend as much time outside as possible. Have you enjoyed dinner and drinks outside on our beautiful patio yet this season? In a recent feature for Eater Seattle, writer Jason Price calls Brimmer & Heeltap’s outdoor dining area “one of the sweetest hidden patios (complete with fire pit) in the city.”  Another article describes it as “straight up dreamy.” We love inviting guests to dine on our garden patio, especially when they didn’t even know it was there!

Inside, it’s looking quite dreamy as well. You know spring has sprung when you see fresh flowers resting cheerily in tiny vases around the dining room. Each week, proprietress Jen Doak takes care to bring in a new batch from our neighbors at Ballard Market. With soft breezes and bright light coming in through the open windows and filling the dining room, inside is just as pretty of a place as out to break bread with friends on a warm spring evening.

The thing that really makes Brimmer & Heeltap shine this time of year, of course, is our menu. With English peas, snow peas, green curry, poblano peppers, miner’s lettuce, pandan, and sorrel being utilized by the kitchen, there are an abundance of vibrant, fresh, and wonderfully seasonal offerings to choose from.

New to the menu is Chef Mike Whisenhunt's tasty English pea hummus served with homemade grilled flatbread. A play on traditional hummus, our version is made with sesame oil and served with fresh peas and pea shoots. Each bite is like a taste of spring. Scallops are also having a moment on our menu. Seared perfectly and served with pickled Cipollini onions, snow peas, and foamy, aerated poblano pepper aioli, this dish is not to be missed! Also new to the menu are rice cakes served with green curry, pea vines, pistachio and mint. This combination of ingredients makes for a dish that is comforting without being too heavy. Balanced and bright, the rice cakes are a playful, flavorful homage to spring.

Come in soon to try these new additions to our menu. Pull up a chair with friends at your favorite table, or, better yet – get cozy around the fire pit and treat yourself to an al fresco dining experience. We’ll have the rosé waiting!


Author: Caitlyn Edson

Images: Will Foster Photography

Umami’s The Word

Farro, cucumber, pickled leeks, house-made Madras curry yogurt sauce, lamb lardons...the combination makes for a surprisingly complex, umami salad.

Farro, cucumber, pickled leeks, house-made Madras curry yogurt sauce, lamb lardons...the combination makes for a surprisingly complex, umami salad.

In the small, open kitchen at Brimmer & Heeltap, something mysterious, scientific, and absolutely mouth-watering is at work. Chef Mike Whisenhunt and his team are committed to working with an element of gastronomy that can be immensely challenging to properly harness. It’s been referred to in a multitude of ways, which only adds to its allure; a delicious “flavor-bomb,” or the “fifth taste” are some of its more common descriptors.

So what is it, exactly? It’s called umami, and it’s one of the things that makes the food we serve so deeply satiating and crave-worthy.

Considered separate from the four recognized food tastes – salt, sweet, bitter, and sour - umami is loosely translated from Japanese as "a savory taste" or simply, "yummy," and can be as difficult to articulate as it can be to detect in food. According to Brimmer & Heeltap’s Sous Chef Dallas Dziedzic, common examples of umami-rich foods include tomatoes, mushrooms, nutritional yeast, fish sauce, soy, and Parmesan cheese, most of which can be found on our menu when in season.  

 “We use fish sauce throughout the menu,” points out Dziedzic, who is on a mission to form a unique umami flavor at Brimmer & Heeltap. “The house-made yogurt with the lamb lardons on the fennel salad lend some of those same mouthwatering, satiating values,” he explains. “Or even the beans on the lamb with the crème fraiche...” It’s exciting to look at the menu at Brimmer & Heeltap and try to detect which elements of our current dishes likely contain umami flavors. Simple ingredients such as locally foraged mushrooms can sometimes pack a powerful punch, and at B&H, big flavors are definitely our thing.

Chef Dallas Dziedzic has spent many hours researching and experimenting to perfect umami-rich flavors for the menu at Brimmer & Heeltap.

Chef Dallas Dziedzic has spent many hours researching and experimenting to perfect umami-rich flavors for the menu at Brimmer & Heeltap.

According to journalist Amy Fleming, “umami” was coined in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda, a chemist at Tokyo University. Writes Fleming, “He had noticed this particular taste in asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat, but it was strongest in dashi – that rich stock made from kombu (kelp) which is widely used as a flavour base in Japanese cooking. So he homed in on kombu, eventually pinpointing glutamate, an amino acid, as the source of savoury wonder. He then learned how to produce it in industrial quantities and patented the notorious flavour enhancer MSG.” In addition to its loose association with the more commonly known food additive MSG, Fleming also astutely notes that umami is a “fascinating piece in the jigsaw of our gastronomic evolution.”

Umami is such a fascinating food concept that Chef Mike Whisenhunt has been hesitant to even use the word, for fear that diners wouldn't understand what it meant, and that the menu would feel less accessible to new guests. “I think it is essential that we continue to develop and make this a more conscious part of Brimmer & Heeltap’s style,” says Whisenhunt, who believes that umami has the power to contribute to the fun, bold, and playful flavors that make the restaurant’s food so unique and satisfying. Whisenhunt also acknowledges Sous Chef Dziedzic’s role in bringing umami flavors to life in the B&H kitchen. “I have to give a lot of credit to Dallas for really heading down his path of knowledge on the subject,” he says. “It inspires me.”

Dziedzic’s work with umami at Brimmer & Heeltap has involved extensive research, experimentation, and finding ways to recreate elements of MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) in a more organic way by utilizing ingredients B&H already sources. “For me, adding MSG was kind of cheating, so I looked to more natural options,” explains Dziedzic. “Learning that tomatoes, mushrooms (specifically dried shiitakes), Parmesan, potatoes, nutritional yeast along with dried and fermented fish all contain natural glutamate, was really the base of the umami bomb B&H uses.”

The Saur Broccoli Salad at Brimmer & Heeltap contains an "umami bomb" of epic proportions.

The Saur Broccoli Salad at Brimmer & Heeltap contains an "umami bomb" of epic proportions.

The best example of the “umami bomb” Dziedzic mentions can be found within the Saur Broccoli Salad that’s currently on the menu. The broccoli salad is comprised of a strangely satisfying combination of pickled serrano peppers, sesame seeds, popped quinoa, and black vinegar. The unlikely sum of its parts makes for a flavor experience so intense and nourishing it leaves you wanting more. Don’t just take our word for it – Seattle Refined recently named the salad among the five best vegetable dishes in the city

Chef Dziedzic explains that umami can be found in dishes that contain “rounded out flavors that make you want to go back for another bite.” Going back for another bite is exactly what umami is all about, and unsurprisingly, Brimmer & Heeltap is genuinely enthusiastic about food and beverages that inspire cravings among our guests. If you’re still unsure what umami is all about, we encourage you to come grab a seat at the restaurant and taste for yourself.


Author: Caitlyn Edson

Images: Will Foster.