By Katy Bourne
The Ship Canal Grill is Eastlake’s newest live music venue and jazz-friendly hang spot. I was making the rounds the other evening and decided to pop in and check out the scene.
The Ship Canal Grill is situated on Eastlake Ave., just southwest of the University Bridge and a beat away from the large intersection at Eastlake and Harvard Ave, where I-5 towers overhead. The spacious room is sleek and modern, with a slight industrial feel. Big windows look out on the busy street. There is an ample stage with tasteful lighting. Serving as a backdrop is a large quirky mural that includes figures from Seattle history sitting together on a girder that floats above Lake Union. There was a pile of instrument cases next to the stage.
I dropped in for the Wednesday night jam session, which is hosted by Jay Thomas and the Cantaloupes. The band featured Jay Thomas on sax and trumpet, Chuck Kistler on bass, Adam Kessler on drums and Gus Carns subbing for John Hansen on keys. The jam, which is all ages, included both student musicians and professionals from the Seattle jazz community. Thomas has a nice touch as host and the vibe is upbeat and friendly. Although the room is mostly hard surfaces with very little to absorb the sound, the acoustics were surprisingly good. The crowd was mixed: couples on dates, families and a host of folks hanging out at the bar. Most people seemed to be there for the jam. I might add that I counted at least three television sets positioned throughout the room. All of them were on but, mercifully, the sound was muted.
The Ship Canal Grill has a full bar and a Mediterranean-leaning menu that includes an appealing assortment of appetizers, sandwiches and entrees. There are a variety of options for vegetarians. The bar offers a nice selection of wines, beer (bottled and draft) cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. They serve $4 mojitos and margaritas all day. I would describe the service as aloof. My waiter brought me my drink but never came back to my table after that. In fact, I had to hunt him down to get my check. That was the only negative in an otherwise pleasant experience.
The Ship Canal Grill has live music several nights a week. Weekday Happy Hours are from 4-6pm and after 9pm. There is free parking in the adjacent garage. I was also able to easily find street parking close to the restaurant. For more information about the Ship Canal Grill, check out www.shipcanalgrill.com.