Beyond Bar Food
by Carol Banks Weber
You don’t usually find farm-to-table anything in a bar. But Kelnero in Edmonds is not your ordinary watering hole. Open since February of last year, Kris and Kali’s Kelnero is a chic craft cocktail lounge/social house with nods to Victorian-era inns and Prohibition-style SpeakEasies.
But unexpectedly, spectacularly ultra-modern.
Grilled halloumi cheese, roasted pluot, and wilted dandelion green salad with your Scratch martini…hello!
“You can find great food and drinks at many bars and restaurants, but what matters most is how you feel when you’re dining out. Our first priority’s always hospitality. We’re willing to go to incredible lengths to develop innovative food and drinks that genuinely delight our guests, but we are never above trying something that doesn’t align with most conventional craft cocktail bar personas.”
A veritable Who’s-Who of farm-to-table intention, incredible thought and care go into every libation and victual on the menu, including that fetching halloumi salad — grilled and roasted and tossed to perfection.
Kris and Kali love connecting with small farmers through distributor Puget Sound Food Hub and farmers markets. “We believe eating and drinking locally and seasonally is an important step towards environmentally and socially sustainable food systems, and something that everyone should strive for. We let the same ethics that guide our personal lives inform our business choices,” she explains. “We must rotate our food menu heavily to maintain seasonality and adapt to what our farmers can offer us. It isn’t always easy, but if it’s the right thing to do, it feels much easier. Additionally, local, seasonal, and farm-fresh ingredients taste the best!”
I always like to say we strive to be ‘classy but not pretentious.’
Fall and winter are all about apple, pumpkin, and golden beet-coriander shrubs and corresponding cocktails, as well as “our hot drinks list, including the Bawdy Toddy with Scratch’s Barrel-Aged Pepper Vodka. Last year, some of our most popular cold-weather food dishes were the Pacific Northwest Poutine, Smoked Salmon Chowder, and Hama Hama oysters on the half shell.” Of course, jalapeño poppers, Sunchoke dip, and crusted duck wings always go down well with a Black Walnut Manhattan or Black Rose, perennial favorites.
Kelnero’s been doing well with the summer crowd, despite COVID-19, taking full advantage of its 300-sq.-ft. deck, even opening up the back parking lot for more seats. Edmonds’ Walkable Main Street program also opened up sidewalks and streets for outdoor dining/shopping on the weekends.
We are open for dine-in, but only outdoor seating. It’s quite simply safer. And, as long as this weather holds, there’s no reason not to!
As fall/winter sets in, sending crowds indoors, Kelnero will continue finding a way to serve. Kali hopes for the best. “The status of this virus and our legal system’s response to it change frequently. I don’t think it’s beneficial for us to make firm plans without knowing what our case count will be. That being said, we are weighing our options for what we’ll do as the weather starts to cool down. We will continue to offer takeout as long as we are allowed to at the least, and as we progress towards containing the virus, we plan to offer indoor seating as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Whatever happens, Kali and Kris Kelnero are ready, for all the right reasons. “Our guests and staff bring all the life to our bar. Witnessing the birthdays, engagements, anniversaries, blossoming romances, and building all of our new friendships has brought tears to our eyes on many occasions. Opening the bar has also introduced us to a new community of business owners throughout Edmonds and surrounding towns, as well as our food and beverage vendors and other partners. We’ve become part of an incredibly welcoming, supportive group of entrepreneurs. Particularly now that we are all going through a pandemic together, the bonds we’ve formed have become even stronger.” ✦
545 Main Street, Edmonds 425-967-5687 | Kelnero