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CrabFest 2023


Brimmer & Heeltap

Home away from home

A decade-long dream has come true for Jen Doak, proprietress of Brimmer & Heeltap. She's always loved the conviviality of a neighborhood spot and has been longing for a 'bistro meets pub' of her own.

As she moved ahead (with help and advice from some great Seattle female restaurant types: Mo Shaw, Joanne Herron, Maria Hines), she was looking for a location in the Ballard/Phinney Ridge area. Her real estate agent suggested the former Le Gourmand space, a 1920s building, but she felt it would be too small. When she stood in it, the misgivings were gone. "It felt so natural and is a convergence zone for so many neighborhoods," Jen says. They added a nine-seat bar in the main room, combined the dining room and the former Sambar, getting rid of its four bar seats and adding tables. Windows opened up the space ("So people can see people they know on the sidewalk and wave and chat for a minute"), white walls and teal backrests brightened the space up. The kitchen is wide open.

Her first thought for a chef was Mike Whisenhunt who she has known for 11 years. They met when he worked at the Barking Frog; he left his most recent job at Revel (he'd been there for seven years) for Brimmer & Heeltap. "While I was there, I really learned about ingredients and how to balance flavors," Mike says. He has brought his experience to create a menu broken down into snack, vegetable, seafood, meat and dessert categories. Being a community spot, they wanted the menu to work for everyone: family, couple, single, whatever. So most plates come in two sizes; small is fine for two people, large can feed four. But the idea is that they're small enough that people can share and enjoy a number of tastes. "In the short time we've been open, we've been very happy with the community support and they've been very happy with the reasonable prices," says Jen. "Our staff can help walk you through the menu. We have familiar items and hopefully some more unusual things people aren't familiar with-we want them to try new things and engage with the servers."

In addition to the regular menu, they have a late night menu and a large party platter menu. The latter supplements the regular dinner menu. If a large group comes in (six or more people), they can order a platter or two for the group. Sunday night is family night and it has also become ramen night by popular demand.

For a small house, they have plenty of beverage options: eight whites (including a plum wine and a sake), eight reds, three dessert wines, specialty cocktails, eight tap beers, a few bottles and cans and a cider, as well as four sparklings. They also offer fresh juices, ginger beer and a few other nonalcoholic drinks. Jeff Steiner left Ray's after ten years to become the bar manager at B&H. "We wanted someone who knew it all-new, classic, simple, intricate. We got that in Jeff," says Jen.

They are not taking reservations because they want this to be a community spot where people can just walk in. They are using OpenTable which has a wait-list feature. If you're on the wait list, you'll be contacted when they're ready for you. "It's great for the neighbors who can just pop in when their table is ready," says Jen.

There's much more to tell, but we're going with Jen's concept: we want you to go there, engage with Jen, Mike, Jeff and the rest of the staff, and find it out for yourself. We're thinking you'll have a great time.


Brimmer & Heeltap
425 NW Market St
Seattle, WA 98107

Pork shoulder with caramelized onion kimchee

Photos by Nataworry Photography

Connie Adams/January 2014

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