Soda Bread and Holy Water at Kells
The beloved Kells in Pike Place Market recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. The pub hosts live Irish music nightly and an enormous annual St. Patrick's Day festival. "I sure the heck don't drink green beer," says owner Ethna McAleese. "That's crazy! We have Irish dancers and pipers for our St. Patrick's celebration." Ethna grew up in Belfast, where she worked in a tobacco factory and ran a women's clothing store.
When she and her sons opened Kells in Post Alley, she'd never even had a drink—she still hasn't—but she made the traditional Irish stews and soda bread still served there today. The dense bread is perfect for soaking up Kells' cream of potato soup. There are savory pasties whose heartiness (impressive for their size) is probably due to a drizzling of Mornay cheese sauce so good, I'd take shots of it.
The building Kells inhabits was originally the Butterworth & Sons mortuary, and it still contained vaults for bodies when Ethna began remodeling. She says the bar is haunted by several ghosts, possibly including a man she eighty-sixed for shooting a hole in the wall. To ward off the ghosts, the bar is stocked with holy water, which sadly is not available as a cocktail ingredient.