Restaurant news: An inside look at Edmonds’ new Victor Tavern

The newly remodeled Pagliacci Pizza in Edmonds.

The dining scene in our local area is constantly changing and evolving. The Rock Wood Fired Pizza in Lynnwood has permanently closed. But we are so lucky to have lots of wonderful pizza joints nearby that offer every type of pizza that you can imagine. The Edmonds location of Pagliacci’s completed their indoor/outdoor renovation and on June 8 there was a line out the door because they celebrated by offering free slices all day. The renovation creates more indoor space for dining as well as an updated patio and a streamlined ordering counter. Now if they could only improve the parking situation!

Interior of Victor Tavern.

At a recent media event for the newly opened Victor Tavern on Main Street, I had the opportunity to sample their signature cocktails and samples from their extensive menu. It is my personal policy to wait at least four to six weeks before doing a formal restaurant review for a new restaurant, but from the items that I tasted at the event Ethan Stowell’s newest addition to his suite of restaurants looks promising. The shrimp cocktail and sliders were delicious! They served a signature chocolate brownie that was also enjoyable and crave worthy. Their “soft” opening is officially over but they are still getting up to speed with service issues and hope to have the upstairs “game room” up in running once their elevator inspection is completed.

Mini shrimp cocktail at Victor Tavern.

Under the culinary leadership of Chef Taylor Johnson and the expert beverage direction of Erik Carlson, the new Victor Tavern hopes to be a vibrant addition to the local restaurant community. The daily menu at The Victor Tavern Edmonds focuses on playful and casual tavern fare made from fresh, seasonal ingredients. Guests can enjoy tavern burgers and sandwiches, small shareable plates, large salads and a variety of large plate dinners. Highlights include the Smoky Tavern Wings with hot sauce and blue cheese dip, Steak Frites with flatiron steak and parmesan fries, and Fried Castelvetrano Olives.

Burger lovers will delight in the 6 oz. patties of grass-fed natural beef served on brioche buns. Crowd favorites include the Victory Burger with lettuce, onion, bread and butter pickles, American cheese and secret sauce; the Truffle Smash Burger with truffles, mushrooms, gruyere and truffle aioli; and the Veg Head with a plant-based patty, avocado, Mama Lil’s peppers, lettuce, tomato, onion and aged cheddar. Sandwich highlights include a French Dip with prime rib, griddled onion and horseradish mayo, and The Phoenix with spicy fried chicken thigh, pepper jack, lettuce, pickle and jalapeño aioli.

Slider at Victor Tavern.

Happy hour at The Victor Tavern Edmonds runs nightly from 4 to 6 p.m., and includes a selection of small plates, burgers and beverages, including $9-$10 cocktails, $8 draft beers and $9 glasses of wine. Weekend brunch will be offered every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Featured dishes include Vanilla Malted Griddle Cakes served with applewood bacon and sage andmaple sausage; Eggs Benedict with a choice of smoked salmon lox, applewood bacon or prime rib; and a Breakfast Smash Burger with a fried egg, American cheese, sweet pickle, lettuce and onion. For the thirsty, brunch features Victor Mimosa Service with a whole bottle of sparkling wine and fresh orange juice, Bloody Marys and rotation house slushy frozen cocktails.

Erik Carlson, Ethan Stowell Restaurants’ executive beverage director, has crafted a beverage program featuring a trio of categories including Quick Draw- slushy cocktails and espresso martinis on tap; Sours, Punches and Fizzes; and Stirred & Spirit Driven Cocktails. Selections include the Copalita Punch — a frozen slushy cocktail with tequila, mezcal, amaro, lime, grapefruit and Aleppo pepper; the Amalfi Swizzle with gin, Aperol, lemon, passionfruit and ginger; and the Derringer with bourbon, curaçao, coffee liqueur and orange zest. There are multiple house specialty non-alcoholic cocktails alongside house sodas and Caffé Vita coffee and cold brew. Local beers on tap and a curated wine selection by the glass and bottle are also available.

Bowling alley at Victor Tavern.

“The culinary community in Edmonds is among the best in the Pacific Northwest and we are honored to be in such great company,” said Chef Ethan Stowell, founder and CEO of Ethan Stowell Restaurants (ESR). “This new location will offer the same great burgers and delicious tavern fare that the Victor is known for, served within what could be our most beautiful restaurant build-out to date. We aim to be the go-to spot for a lively, post-work happy hour or a great place to enjoy a game with friends.”

Located on Main Street in downtown Edmonds, The Victor Tavern is making its new home in the beautifully restored 6,714-square-foot Main Street Commons development, which was originally built in 1954 as a Thriftway grocery store and also features Molly Moon’s Ice Cream, Copper Pot Bakery, Johnny Mo’s Pizza and Virtue Cellars Tasting Room. The restaurant space retains its original wood barrel vault ceiling and features an open kitchen concept and a horseshoe bar with eight taps. Modern lighting, earth-tone leather and mixed materials including unfinished cement and midcentury wallpaper create a contemporary urban atmosphere that will be familiar to fans of ESR restaurant spaces. Outside, the new restaurant hosts a spacious covered and heated 24-seat patio that looks out onto the 440-square-foot communal Main Street commons courtyard.

Dining room at the Victor Tavern.

Within the restaurant proper, the new Victor Tavern offers an array of seating options, including a 34-seat bar, an 82-seat downstairs dining area (including a flexible 18-seat private dining room), and an upstairs dining area with 28 traditional seats and 12-16 seats designated for bowling. The upstairs area is designed as a game-forward room featuring three lanes of rollerball by US Bowling and two shuffleboard tables. Note: At this time the upstairs gaming area is not yet open pending final permit approval; however, there are plans for the gaming area to open soon. (No date yet.) Both local and national sporting events can be viewed on one of 10 large-screen televisions placed throughout the bar and restaurant. Both current Victor Tavern locations are official Mariners Bar League locations, with Mariners games always available.

Stay tuned for a full review once the kitchen and waitstaff settle into their new place.

Victor Tavern Edmonds

550 Main St., Suite 100

Edmonds, WA 98020

Phone: 425-599-4110

— By Deborah Binder

Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She loves to cook from scratch using produce from the gardens she created and maintains with her husband. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and focused on desserts, pastries and bread. She’s worked for restaurants and caterers in the front and back of the house (kitchen) on both coasts. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. Deborah loves experimenting and developing new recipes. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at jaideborah@yahoo.com.

  1. I see there was no mention of the 21% gratuity that is automatically add to your bill. Personally I will never go back.

  2. I wish your review had mentioned the insulting 22% mandatory gratuity charge which greatly undercuts any positive aspects of the dining experiences. Tipping should be based on the individual customers assessment not the restaurant. I, and perhaps others, will pass on visiting there as long as this policy is in place. KOK

  3. A follow up review that includes prices of regular menu items would be helpful. What I saw when I looked at their menu walking by one day seemed pricey (at least for my meager budget). Service charges are not uncommon in other countries, right? But 21% or 22% is a pretty high starting point. Where does that end? I assume that no additional tip is required? Does that amount get shared with all staff?

  4. Honestly, the food was just OK and definitely not worth the high price. Added to that, the mandatory gratuity just topped it off as another place we will not go to again. Really disappointed to see how the owners have decided to exploit their customers by FORCING us to pay their staff’s wage where they don’t want to pay them market rate. The sense that the customer can be exploited without any recourse will need to stop. I understand inflation and that is not what I am talking about here. I, for one, am crossing off places that overcharge for their product and making sure to tell others about it.

    1. Just an FYI as some have asked. This is not a formal restaurant review. It was a press event and that was disclosed. An official restaurant review does not include free meals — we pay for our meals when doing a review.

  5. Hopefully this new establishment prospers. Although locally fortunately it’s a competitive landscape there’s many choices when it comes to having a hamburger and watching a TV screen.

  6. As the town old geezer and perpetual malcontent, I remember cool places like Al’s Diner, The Sail In Tavern, and Brownies Cafe (with home made pie to die for) so I’ll pass on most of these new high tone Edmond’s Joints. Can’t afford places like that and still pay the skyrocketing property taxes here. The two Salish Sea Taverns for burgers, sandwiches and beer and Buccotini’s for Italian are my take on a good tribute to the Edmonds of old and I’ll stick with them and Anthony’s when I really want to “put on the dog.” (Slang – look it up kids).

  7. The information regarding a “service charge” is in very small print on the menu. Additionally, they only accept credit cards for payment which I found out when I stopped in for a beer and tried to pay with cash. This is also an added expense considering what credit card companies charge the establishment as well as the card holder. No thanks.

    1. Some useful info from Washington L&I (agency charged with enforcing state wage and hour laws) regarding tips and service charges and laws regarding both.:
      https://www.lni.wa.gov/workers-rights/wages/tips-and-service-charges

      Haven’t been to the new place yet as I don’t venture to the Bowl much, but I am a big fan of Mr. Stowell’s brown liquor-based cocktails as served at his other places as well as a big fan of bowling so I’ll probably check it out once the gaming area opens. It’s interesting to read posts here and realize the range of thoughts about tips vs service charges.

  8. Message at the bottom of the Victor Tavern menu (ESR is their corporate owner)~
    “ESR has added a 20% service charge to all checks that is retained (100%) by the house. Every ESR Employee is paid an equitable and agreed upon hourly wage. Gratuities are not expected, and any that are left are split amongst hourly employees only, never salaried managers. ESR does not believe traditional gratuities are an equitable or modern way to pay our employees. ESR is committed to moving away from the traditional tip model. We value your feedback and questions, please reach out to ethan.sc@esrhospitality.com

    Not sure who first labeled this a gratuity when it’s clearly a service charge. A gratuity is something freely given (or withheld) and ESR is imposing a mandatory fee, so let’s call it what it is~ a Service Charge.

    1. Good find Roger. I”m curious, why not just price the menu items 20% higher? Is it because the 20% service charge is not subject to sales tax?

      Either way, I’m very glad to see them “moving away from the traditional tip model.”

      1. Under WA law, service charges are subject to sales tax. In Edmonds our sales tax rate is 10.5%.

        That basic American cheese burger and a can of Rainier, tab comes to just north of $37 at Victor’s.

    2. Why don’t they just raise the high prices per item by 20%, ie, a $22 burger becomes $26.40. And is the 20% figured pre or post tax? Where does this stop, I wonder? $40 burgers plus $8 for the 20%. Restaurant prices in some establishments have gone off the charts with no end in sight. I thought 4% added at some places was high enough. I was wrong. I wonder is the reasoning is that diners will more easily accept an add on fee rather than increased menu prices. This place & some others are cashing in on both methods apparently & there are enough well heeled folks who can afford it. But…for such prices, food should melt in the mouth & be swoon-worthy IMO. 12 t.v.s isn’t my jam but it is for many.

    3. It is interesting that they now state on the menu and online that their service fee is 20%. When I went there on the first night they were open, the first I knew of it was on the charge slip, which stated “We include a service charge of 22% for dine in ….” And yes, that amount was included in the subtotal before tax .

  9. I would never eat at a restaurant that has this policy or makes waitstaff share their tips. All service is not created equal. However its their business and they can do as they please. I wonder how much an hour they pay their staff and if they provide good health insurance and even some dental benefits. I wonder.

  10. As long as I can get a really good local beer at a fair price and a $10.00 BLT with Chips at The Boathouse, I’ll let someone else celebrate The Victory, thank you very much. I do encourage our tourist friends to visit the joint often and spend as much money as possible, however. Helps our city bottom line, and it needs all the help it can get.

  11. I was so excited to try this place and I was not disappointed! My husband and I went for brunch and both of our entrees were delicious (he had the fried chicken sandwich, I had the smash burger). The portions are extremely generous. We also enjoyed the fun atmosphere and kind staff. My only request would be that they add a space so that I can include additional gratuity as I find 20% a bit low, but we just left cash for our wonderful server. Next I want to go for dinner so I can try the steak frites!

    1. Nice to hear they allow tipping your waitperson in cash. But are the tips all required to be reported and are they required to share tips between them all. Just curious. I honestly don’t care, and I am glad you enjoyed your meal Veronica. Hey for me its to each their own. I love choice and free will.

      1. The verbiage from the menu someone posted said all tips (given in addition to service charge) are shared amongst the hourly employees. So that means everyone except the managers (who have never been included in tip pools anywhere I have ever worked). I am sure because management has control over the cash tips that they are reported on employees pay checks. What the verbiage does not say is what % of the service charge or any additional tip goes to the servers, bussers, expos, kitchen staff and dishwasher. Do we need to know that? Only if you want assurance that the crew is being paid fairly.
        I did check their website re health insurance and as is completely typical it’s offered to full time employees, Front of house are rarely full time but maybe he considered a less hours than 40 full time. I hope so. The food and the venue look wonderful. I wish them every success.

  12. I ate there for lunch with my son yesterday and two sandwiches and two glasses of water came to $67.

  13. You are not going to find “dollar menu” food in downtown Edmonds, and especially not in a location with (expensive) new construction. I’m sure the overhead is significant.

    To put it into perspective: the Red Barn is available for lease at $34/sf/yr. On the low sf end of 3,600 sf, that’s $122,400.

  14. All I have heard from anyone who has gone there already, is mention of high prices and mandatory “service fees”. Huge turn-off to me already.
    Glad there are other folks in this town willing to pay these prices…. but us real Edmondites who are on a budget know the places to get food/drink at a reasonable cost.

  15. Well Alicia I do see the point you are making. Too bad it’s so expensive to lease buildings but I am not surprised. It is hard to afford living in Edmonds, so the profit margin needs to be pretty high for a business to succeed and the owner? to live here in Edmonds. So I think the best thing is to just raise the prices and forget the added service charge. And maybe allow people to pay cash if they choose. I have no dog in this fight and as I said it is all up to the owner and management team. I do hope they are successful here in Edmonds and for those who can’t or won’t pay those prices there are alternative places where they can dine. Hello Alicia.

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