by Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Located at 3719 3rd Avenue, Bottletree is a café, bar, and live entertainment venue. The café is open for lunch and dinner, as well as Saturday and Sunday brunch.
The Bottletree Café has been open for seven years, with its main focus as a music venue. Acts come from all over the country, and sometimes the world, to perform here. Primarily, small touring bands share their music here. The event schedule is found on their website, thebottletree.com, where tickets are also sold to an audience of 18 and older.
The shabby chic ambience is furnished with thrift store finds and lit by strings of colorful Christmas lights and multicolored lights in the ceiling fans. The small chrome bar seats seven on comfy, black upholstered bar stools below three television screens. Retro chrome dinette sets dot two dining areas with the tables topped with old album covers of famous musicians. A large stage, where the musicians play at night, is situated at the end of the main dining space. Today it boasts a table for 14 during Sunday brunch. And the large patio seats guests who dine al fresco under wooden beams, in a similarly funky décor. One bottle tree decorates the patio and another is found outside, in front of the café.
The owners, brother and sister team Brad and Merrilee Chaliss, are hands-on restaurateurs and venue operators. Brad is a chef, Merrilee an artist; their talents combine in this popular entertainment venue, where the food is deserving of its own recognition. Merrilee particularly takes pride in the vegan and vegetarian offerings, which were the roots of this restaurant.
The menu includes items a la carte, 10 entrees, Mimosas, and bloody marys. We choose one of each of the drinks. I head to the bar, where there is a handy buffet area to choose my bloody mary toppings with olives, limes, and more. Selections of The Sombrero and La Vie Cochon are made. We sip our drinks and people watch this packed house. Many of the folks appear to be regulars here, as they know each other and the servers.
Our plates arrive piping hot from the kitchen, where Brad is cooking. My Sombrero is a mound of two fried eggs atop pimento cheese grit cakes and seasoned black beans, with an accompanying slice of avocado. The plate is topped with cilantro lime crema and colorful salsa. On first cut, the warm egg yolk drizzles down into the grits, creating a tasty combo of egg, corn, and cheese flavors. The beans add additional protein and texture to the dish. And the avocado lends a refreshing note to this spicy breakfast. This dish paired with the spicy bloody mary makes a tasty duo for those who like it hot, such as myself.
The sweet La Vie Cochon is a hearty ham-and-Swiss French toast sandwich, dotted with powdered sugar and drizzled with syrup. Mimosas make a perfect match for this dish; this pairing is just right for those who like it sweet.