“Something for myself and for the two ladies. What do you do well?” he asks the bartender and owner, Trevor Miller.
“I do a lot of things well,” Miller says.
“Can you make a Manhattan?”
“Bourbon or rye?”
The drinks might have impressed the women, but the Silver Fox strikes out with the ladies, finishes his Manhattan and totters off.
If a televised game isn't enough to occupy you, expect entertainment to walk in the door at the Church Key, which opened last December in downtown Edmonds.
Miller, a former airline pilot, and his wife, Amy Nyberg, a part-time flight attendant, opened the pub following Miller's stint as general manager at the Brown Lantern Ale House, a friendly and venerable pub in Anacortes. Both he and Nyberg worked their way through college by tending bar, so that experience and the tenure at the Brown Lantern have transferred well to the Church Key.
The Church Key, much like the Brown Lantern, is decorated in dark wood with U.K. sports photos and posters lining the walls, two dart boards at the back end of the room and your choice of seating on stools, chairs or church pews. Two big-screen TVs are tuned to live sports, making the pub a good place to watch a Mariners, Sounders, Huskies or Seahawks game. Miller also plans to tune into rugby's Sevens World Series later this month.
But any tavern can hang TVs on the wall. The Church Key distinguishes itself with a limited but well-selected menu of chef Charlie Sayre's takes on traditional pub fare with flatbreads, sandwiches, wraps and more.
The smoked bratwurst flatbread ($10.50) was like a deconstructed hot dog, fitting for watching a Mariner's game. Sliced bratwurst from Pike Place Market's Bavarian Meats and Beecher's Flagship jack and parmesan cheeses topped an oval of crispy flatbread seasoned with pickled red onions, green onions and a glaze of coarse-ground mustard.
The Beecher's cheese, jack and cheddar, also was used in Dining & Life Companion's baked macaroni and cheese ($9), topped with prosciutto and panko bread crumbs. The jack and cheddar flavors were there without the pasta having to be awash in a puddle of glop.
Even a grilled cheese sandwich ($9.50) gets a little elevation. Again Beecher's cheddar on thick white bread, but with the addition of thin apple slices. Offered a choice of chips, green salad, potato salad or a Gorgonzola and tomato soup, D&LC went with the comfort combo and said the soup was a great pair with the cheese sandwich.
D&LC's mom ordered a Caprese sandwich ($9), an open-faced ciabatta sandwich of Roma tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil drizzled with a balsamic glaze, which also was a good match for the tomato soup, she said.
With the arrival of football season, Miller said Sayre is working on some new menu items, including nachos with a house chili or pulled pork, a Kobe beef hot dog with the house chili, pulled pork sliders and a Asian pork flatbread.
An order of dates ($7.50), stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in prosciutto and served with a balsamic glaze is offered as an appetizer but made a nice dessert, we found. But don't miss the house-made cheesecake ($6), served with seasonal berries, which on a recent Sunday afternoon were lightly pickled blueberries. The berries' unexpected sharpness was great with the cheesecake.
Expect to find Miller or Nyberg tending bar and offering suggestions on which of the dozen on-tap selections ($5.50 a pint) to order with your meal or appetizer.
Other than standards, like Guinness and Murphy's, Miller trades off among several different brews, including ciders, pilsners, ales, hefeweizens, ambers, porters and seasonals.
“As a general rule I don't tap anything that someone else has (locally). I get stuff people aren't serving,” Miller said, which means he'll often make a trip up to Bellingham or elsewhere to fetch a rarer keg. The current list of taps is updated on the Church Key website, as well as Facebook and Twitter. Welcome to managing a bar in the social network era.
Miller also keeps a premium well and offers a menu of a dozen or so cocktails, including a Moscow mule, a scratch margarita and a Hendrick's cooler.
Not on the cocktail menu, but available by request: an Irish Car Bomb, which two couples ordered for their first round: Irish whisky floated on top of Irish cream, with a shot of stout dropped, glass and all, into the larger glass for foamy effect.
“What was that?” asked D&LC out loud of the four, at least one of whom was being introduced to the cocktail.
“That was nasty is what that was,” said one of the women.
As I said, the entertainment walks in the door at the Church Key.
Church Key Pub
109 Fourth Ave. N. Edmonds; 425-835-0230; churchkeypub.com
Specialty: Pub fare
Hours: 4 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; noon to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 11 p.m. Sunday
Alcohol: Twelve rotating beers on tap; wines from Washington, Oregon, Argentina, Europe; spirits, specialty cocktails.
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