Welcome to Beyond the Buzz, a new monthly column dedicated to shining the spotlight on restaurants and bars that are still killing it long after the media buzz has worn off. If you have a nominee, please send it to the tipline.
The hidden gem — elusive, charming and where everyone wants to be and be known. A true gestalt, the whole being so much more than a list of qualities. And like pornography, something that's hard to define but something we all know when we see it.
Here, in the first of a city-wide exploration of the underrated, under-the-radar spots, is a little taste of Lottie's Lounge — a cornerstone in the lovely part of town known as Columbia City.
From its inception as the dining hall of the Columbia City Hotel until its incarnation as present-day Lottie's Lounge, the address of 4900 Rainier Ave S has been a public gathering space (with the notable exception of the short time it was a mental health clinic, which is really just a gathering space with a tighter set of entry guidelines).
Beau Hebert, the current Lottie's owner, has been running and improving the place since June of 2010. Most of the improvements are behind-the-scenes and not so sexy — new electrical, better refrigeration, additional kitchen equipment and the like. Some are delightfully apparent, like the addition of beer on tap, dinner entreés, a rotating weekend brunch and the groovy and ever-so-Seattle addition of a hydroponic growing system for herbs that runs along the top of the west-facing windows of the bar.
In the beginning, there were Lottie's and Angie's to choose from in downtown Columbia City. Many things have changed since then; Angie's is gone and many other bars have sprung up, but Lottie's remains the heart of the intersection of Rainier and Ferdinand. Hebert and his crew work hard to walk that fine line between attracting new folks and keeping the long-time regulars happy. Old-timers sipping on PBRs sit elbow-to-elbow with newer residents ordering innovative cocktails dreamed up and tested by the staff.
Lottie's is just the spot to land after a long day for a sip of something cool, a plate of something delicious, and some neighborhood camaraderie. And no matter how you do the math, that adds up to a gem.
— Darlin Gray