Meet Us in the Garden

Everyone says that summer in Seattle doesn’t actually start until July 5th, but that sure doesn’t stop us from trying to get outside as much as possible before then.

At Brimmer & Heeltap, we L-O-V-E al fresco dining and we’re kind of obsessed with our garden patio – a charming, beautiful space that feels like a precious secret shared between friends. During their first visit to the restaurant, many guests admit that they never realized our patio existed. Even some of our neighbors and regular diners were surprised to find such a unique outdoor dining area tucked away behind the main part of building. Its secretive nature lends itself to a wonderfully intimate atmosphere, and is one of the things we love most about it. 

Perhaps one of the reasons why so few people know about our garden patio is because it actually hasn’t been there for very long. When Brimmer & Heeltap proprietress Jen Doak first stepped into the newly cleared out Le Gourmand, the restaurant that inhabited the space before it became B&H, she immediately recognized how much more impactful the space could be with some renovations. “Standing inside the vacant walls, I felt an instant connection,” she explains in this blog post. “I could see the potential unfolding before my eyes.”

“Standing inside the vacant walls, I felt an instant connection,” explains Brimmer & Heeltap's proprietress Jen Doak, of the old studio space. 

“Standing inside the vacant walls, I felt an instant connection,” explains Brimmer & Heeltap's proprietress Jen Doak, of the old studio space. 

One part of the property that held significant potential was a one hundred-year-old 400 square foot studio that sits to the rear of the garden. Formerly used for dry storage by Le Gourmand, this studio space has since been refurbished and transformed into a gorgeous dining room that anchors an expanded outdoor dining area. It’s a stunning space that we use for private events throughout the year, as well as additional seating when the weather is warm. 

Seattle Met Magazine’s Kathryn Robinson describes this section of the restaurant, and the small seating area that leads to it, as an “enchanting hidden courtyard,” adding that it’s “a sun-dappled must on the romance tour.” Eater’s Megan Hill also sings the praises of our patio, calling it “straight up dreamy.” Ever since the expansion of the garden, Brimmer & Heeltap has been included on various lists of the best outdoor dining destinations in Seattle, a nod to the truly special feeling one gets when dining in this beautiful space. Eater mentions B&H in its roundup of great spots for outdoor dining and drinking in Seattle, as does the Seattle Met and Seattle Weekly, to name a few.

In addition to the dreamy annual flora that blooms there, the garden patio and back studio are dotted with special touches that really make this part of the restaurant come to life: One wall of the studio is actually a retractable garage door that helps provide privacy for private dining and special events in the studio, while still allowing guests to peer out into the garden beyond. A fire pit adjacent to the studio serves as a gathering place for friends who want to share snacks and stories in a casually intimate setting. Ceramic sculptures created by local artist Larry Halvorsen blend effortlessly into the garden where they are displayed; these fantastic custom pieces create depth in a way that feels organic. 

If you haven’t yet dined outside in the garden patio, we invite you to join us on the next sunny day. We love seeing our friends, neighbors, and guests breaking bread together outside in the summer air, and with new dishes and cocktails gracing the menu, as well as a brand new brunch menu to enjoy on the weekend, now has never been a better time to come by and dine al fresco at Brimmer & Heeltap.

Author: Caitlyn Edson

Images: Will Foster Photography

The Intricacies of Beef

Brimmer & Heeltap's Sous Chef Dallas Dziedzic writes about the many complicated facets of the cattle industry. 

Brimmer & Heeltap's Sous Chef Dallas Dziedzic writes about the many complicated facets of the cattle industry. 

Mark Twain once noted “Sacred cows make the best hamburger,” referencing the belief that how well you treat your beef is going to determine its quality.  This outlook has recently gained in popularity in the US.  From “Prime” to the “grass fed” and even the “dry aged” there are a lot of ways to add value to beef. What do all of these terms mean, and why do they matter? 

Do you think you could visibly assess the quality of beef just by looking at it? The USDA meat graders think that you should. They rate quality based on “Prime,” “Choice,” or “Select.”  By the USDA standards “Prime” beef is from well-fed young cattle, and has abundant marbling. “Choice” is considered high quality but has less marbling than Prime. “Select” is uniform in quality but leaner than Prime or Choice. To detect these differences, the USDA will take a core section from the cow between the 12th and 13th rib, which allows them to see if the meat is speckled with white bits of fat throughout (Prime) or consisting of only red muscle (Choice).

While marbling found in the steak is prized for its flavor and ability to retain moisture, it’s not everything.  There is also the technique of “dry aging,” a process that enhances an already established flavor. The meat will mature in a controlled setting, pulling away moisture and concentrating flavor.  The fat will become buttery and taste of blue cheese; the meat will become increasingly tender and its beefy flavor will intensify. Together these characteristics create harmony within the beef like a fine salumi.

At Brimmer & Heeltap we love serving thoughtfully prepared, high quality cuts of grass-finished beef. 

At Brimmer & Heeltap we love serving thoughtfully prepared, high quality cuts of grass-finished beef. 

“Grass feeding” is another popular topic in the cattle industry. There are in fact some grey areas and complicated details to pay attention to.  “Grass-fed” beef in the US only has to be accessible to a pasture of grass, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the cows will eat it. They may receive supplemental nutrition in the form of corn, grain, or hay. I believe what most people are thinking when they hear “grass fed” beef is something that is referred to as “grass-finished,” which means that the beef’s diet is not subjected to these supplemental grains. It will be tough to find a truly “grass finished” steak packaged in your super market. You have to get out to small town farmers that pride themselves on the quality of their beef – the kind of farmers that treat the cow like one of their own family members.

This practice is becoming more and more rare, and if it is being implemented, it tends to be a watered-down version. Commercial farms have found ways to increase their beef marketing without really increasing value. Not to mention the cattle industry creates more greenhouse gas than all of transportation combined (yes that means planes, trains and automobiles). In addition to the environmental damage greenhouse gasses cause, the commercial cattle industry uses an astounding 34 trillion gallons of water in a single year (about 2500 gallons of water per 1 pound of beef), compared to the hundred billion used for the oil industry. The cattle industry is booming, but with a booming economy comes serious environmental side effects.

If you’re passionate about cooking and eating beef at home, it’s important to know where the product comes from, and to be aware of some of the intricacies of the cattle industry. When possible, supporting the small-time, local farmer that grass finishes their beef will yield the best product.

For some information on how we approach beef and animal butchery at Brimmer & Heeltap, you can read Chef Mike Whisenhunt’s thoughts on the topic here.

Author: Dallas Dziedzic

Images: Will Foster Photography

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