BURIEN, WA: The Tin Room

I've been meaning to write a review of this wonderful little spot in Olde Burien for quite some time. Today's the day.

I happened upon the Tin Room Bar & Grill a couple of months ago when I was looking for a restaurant in Olde Burien. The Zagats stickers in the front window proved as alluring as a coho fly to a sockeye salmon, so in I went.

Taking a seat at the bar so I could both watch the action and talk with the bartender, I quickly saw that the Tin Room was no ordinary bar. An industrial juicer was clamped to the bar in front of me, and boxes of fresh citrus lined the bar rail. A very good sign indeed!

When the bartender asked if I'd like something to drink, I responded by asking his specialties. He ran through a couple but a variation on the classic Greyhound sounded exactly like what the doctor ordered. Turns out, Michael had concocted the drink, which adds a splash of St. Germaine on top of the vodka and grapefruit juice. But this was no ordinary Greyhound; it was made with grapefruit juice which was freshly squeezed right in front of me! To order! No bottled mixes in sight at the Tin Room.

For my entree, I ordered a BLT with bleu cheese and avocado. A good BLT is always a great nosh, and the Tin Room's addition of tangy bleu cheese puts it at least a notch above any other I've eaten. The sandwich, which conveniently can be ordered as a half-sandwich, came with crispy Tin Room fries.

On my next visit, my wife and I popped in for lunch.

Some weeks later, I stopped in during the mid-afternoon lull for a quick cocktail. I had a taste for a blackberry sour but asked the bartender to make it with the richer-tasting Creme de Casis instead of blackberry brandy. She made it to order, muddling two sugar cubes in freshly-squeezed lemon and orange juice, then hand-shaking the concoction. We both tasted it and agreed the first round was a bit too sweet.

The second time around, she made it without sugar (as the Creme de Casis is sweet enough) and left out the OJ as well. MUCH better, and further improved by a splash of soda water on top. Delightful!

Yesterday, I went for lunch and ordered what the menu calls a "Philly steak sandwich." While it wasn't a classic Philly Cheese Steak, it was nonetheless very good, and was made better by the fact that the Tin Room had grated horseradish (not horsey SAUCE) readily available so I could doctor the sammy to my liking.

The Tin Room occupies what used to be the Hi-Line Tin Shop. Established in 1930, it closed its doors in 2003 when proprietor Ernie Eder decided to retire. He may be absent from this space (though I'm told he still lives in the area), but the tools of his trade are still very much in place. The shop's sign and a sheet metal roller hang behind the bar. The walls are corrugated tin, and Ernie's workbenches have been refashioned as the Tin Room's tables.

The Tin Room is a smallish place, with about 40 seats inside (including those at the bar) and several more on the sidewalk in front and a deck in the back when the weather is good.

While Olde Burien may be a bit off the beaten track, I promise you that lunch, dinner or a drink at the Tin Room will make it worth the detour!


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Photos by Carl Dombek
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