NORMANDY PARK: The Kayak Bar and Grill

Editor's note: The Kayak Bar and Grill's Normandy Park location is closed. The owner has opened in a new location in Burien, Washington, about three miles north of its prior location.

I'm always surprised by how much impact "the little things" can have, whether for better or worse. With the Kayak Bar and Grill, it was "worse."

One recent afternoon, I popped into this establishment on 1st Avenue South, as much out of curiosity as of hunger.  I was disappointed at the demise of the Archery Bistro cum Archery Bar and Grill which had occupied the space previously and was hoping the space's new tenants would do better.

What I experienced gives me little hope for the place's long-term prospects.

The first thing I noticed as I walked in the front door was the canoe hanging from the ceiling.  Not a kayak;  a canoe.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, we know the difference and so should they. Strike one.

Sidling up to the bar which was occupied by one other gentleman of approximately my vintage, I chose some nibbles off the Happy Hour menu along with a glass of white wine. While the wine was OK (though only "OK"),  my experience with the appetizers caused me concerns about the kitchen's prowess.

My skewers of beef and chicken arrived quickly. Perhaps too quickly.  The beef was nicely done in a medium-rare fashion, but so was the chicken.  "Medium-rare chicken" is not a phrase that should be in anyone's lexicon, as undercooked chicken is more than unappealing; it can be a health hazard.

On top of that was the topping: a sort of gloppy teriyaki sauce that tasted like it came out of a bottle, and a cheap bottle at that. Uninspired food, poorly prepared, with a bottled sauce. Strike two.

Especially with only two customers who could have easily afforded to stay for a full dinner, the bartender should have been more engaged with his customers and tried to entice us to stick around for a full meal. He wasn't. Strike three.

Granted, it was only a single experience but the poor preparation of what is a very simple appetizer makes me wonder if they do anything well.  With the wealth of restaurants in the Seattle area, I'm not inclined to try them again to find out.

Visit my main page at for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

Photos by Carl Dombek
Click on photos to view larger images