Tucked away in a back corner of Pike Place Market, Maximilien is one of my favorite spots for happy hour. Behind Rachel the Pig, past Market Spice Teas and Don & Joe’s Meats and down a long hallway you’ll see the door that leads into a quirky, slightly askew restaurant and bar. I always opt for the upstairs at Maximilen, where the south-facing windows offer a view of cranes and industry, and the expanse of the west-facing view is all ferries, islands and Olympics. It’s low-ceilinged and warm and somehow seems just the right fit for a dark, rainy night or a brilliantly sunny summer day.
On this particular Friday I started with a happy hour cocktail of the French Martini, a little bit on the sweet side but one that goes down altogether too quickly: vodka, pineapple, cranberry juice and raspberry liqueur. (How is it that I can happily drink Maker’s Mark in Manhattan form on some occasions and this confection in drink form on other occasions?) Other well-priced happy hour beverages include wine by the glass and by the bottle, margarita, Kronenbourg beer and the recently popular absinthe.
New on the happy hour menu, or at least new to me, is the offering of eight small plates for a package price of $20. Brilliant! The thing is, a photo — or I should amend that to say, my photo — doesn’t fully convey the true buttery nature of the Mini Croissant au Jambon pictured here, or the extraordinary crust of the Tarte Flambee with brie, herbs and tomatoes.
The Belgium Fries and Goat Cheese & Garlic Mousse served with baguette croutons were also excellent, as were the Fromagere Tartine with roasted onions and swiss cheese and the Fermiere Tartine with pate, mustard and cornichons. The Moules Mariniere, mussels steamed with butter, white wine, shallots, garlic and parsley, are always one of my favorites and didn’t disappoint. (Though I never seem to get enough of the broth. Can I get that in a to-go container?) A nice surprise and one I hadn’t tried before: Salmon Coulibiac, petite balls of salmon, goat cheese and spinach baked in puff pasty placed atop a swath of mustard sauce. Darn the French and their skill with buttery pastry; it’s tough to stop at just one.