Four Ballard bars/restaurants are on Seattle Weekly’s list of the 10 Best Drink Menus: Bastille, Moshi Moshi, Paratii, and Hazelwood.
Voracious reviews Golden Beetle.
Voracious discusses coffee shop etiquette with a reference to Firehouse Coffee.
The Stranger’s Bethany Jean Clement reviews Bitterroot BBQ.
Kangaroo & Kiwi to open soon according to My Ballard.
Kitchen & Things celebrates a birthday.
My Ballard reports on Delancey’s new cocktail bar.
Red Mill Totem House honored for historical preservation.
Voracious goes to Bastille’s Happy Hour.
The Hi-Life makes Voracious’ list of Seattle’s Best French Onion soups.
A look at the other items on the menu at Ballard Pizza Company.
Volterra opening a second restaurant in Kirkland.
Urban Family Pub House opens their beer garden for summer.
Location: 5210 Ballard Ave
Sunday: 10am – 2pm
The Gerald, located on Ballard Ave across the street from The Tractor, is Ballard’s newest bar/restaurant. It’s a chic place with a 60’s style in keeping with the 50th anniversary of the 1962 World’s Fair. Dark, wood paneling. Funky, geometric wallpaper. Nubby upholstery on the cushions of the booths. An European style that is somehow comfortable rather than overblown. Having seen photos of The Gerald on various Seattle restaurant news websites, I thought it would have that overly hipster vibe of some Capitol Hill bars. Instead The Gerald had a comfortable, friendly Ballard feel to it.
They have a great list of classic cocktails with quirky twists. The menu is full of comfort food favorites done through a foodie filter. Veggies chips. Duck deviled eggs. Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Swedish meatball sliders, as a nod to Ballard’s Scandinavian heritage. On Sundays they offer an eclectic brunch menu.
Our server was friendly and chatty and interested in how our food and drinks were since she had not yet tried everything on the menu. On top of the friendly service, the manager/head bartender noticed from across the room that the color of J’s drink was wrong, meaning it was missing a key ingredient. So she came over to our table to fix the drink and make sure it tasted better.
I ordered The Aviation, house infused kaffir lime gin, lemon, luxardo, and maraschino liqueur. I’m not usually a gin fan but his cocktail was quite refreshing with a sharp, almost spicy undertone.
J had a Moscow Mule, ginger and spice infused Fris vodka, lime, and house-made ginger soda. At first J found his cocktail good but a little too gingery and sweet. When the bartender added the missing ingredient, bitters, the cocktail became far more complex and balanced.
We started with a couple of appetizers. First, the Deviled Duckies, 4 deviled duck eggs spiked with horseradish. The hard boiled duck eggs were firmer and chewier in texture than regular deviled chicken eggs. The filling had a subtle spiciness that tickled the back of the throat rather than making you sweat. The horseradish complimented rather than overwhelmed the egginess. These deviled eggs were so rich that two each was just enough.
Our other appetizer was the Devils on Horseback, bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with asiago cheese. The asiago cheese, instead of the more common blue cheese stuffing, was a nice substitution. Its salty sharpness complimented the sweet, caramelized flavor of the date. The bacon wrapping, which can sometimes be over or under cooked, was broiled to a perfect state between crispy and chewy. We both liked the presentation of the dates on a bed of arugula. While most would ignore the arugula, we found it a perfect palette cleanser.
I ordered the Gourmet BLT, applewood-smoked bacon, arugula, and tomato with Tillamook cheddar, red onions, mayo, and avocado served with veggie chips. I was surprised when the sandwich arrived untoasted. I don’t think I’ve ever had a BLT from a restaurant without the bread being toasted. It was an oddly brilliant idea, the soft bread insuring that the interior ingredients wouldn’t slip out. The bacon was perfectly cooked. The grated Tillamook cheese only slightly melted onto the bacon allowing its sharp flavor to come through clearly. I really liked their use of spicy arugula instead of lettuce which gave what could have been a boring BLT a complexity. All in all a very good BLT.
The side of veggie chips was quite good as well. Especially the salty, fried greens which weren’t greasy or under cooked. Next time we may order a whole bowl of veggie chips for an appetizer.
For his entrée, J chose the Sweet Chorizo Grilled Cheese, smoked gouda with house-made chorizo and sliced tart apples with apple slaw. J described his sandwich as “a deconstructed cheese burger”. They used grated gouda which melted better over the spicy chorizo. Very different than any grilled cheese he’d ever had. Not as greasy or heavy. No big glop of cheese. No ingredient overpowered any other making for a surprisingly balanced sandwich. The apple slaw was hard to figure out since it was so unique. It tasted like slaw but with tart, Granny Smith apples and a hint of Chinese five-spice powder.
The Aviation: 10.00
Moscow Mule: 10.00
Deviled Duckies: 6.00
Devils on Horseback: 7.00
Gourmet BLT: 10.00
Sweet Chorizo Grilled Cheese: 10.00
The Gerald is a welcome addition to Ballard Avenue. Outstanding cocktails. Great service. Good food with a homey menu with a twist. There are definitely a number of other things on the menu that we would like to try. The Swedish meatballs and the chicken and waffles are at the top of the list along with trying out their Sunday brunch. We’ll be back.
A slew of restaurant news so far in April. Openings. Up and coming places that look very interesting.
Dish It Up, one of Ballard’s kitchen stores, unexpectedly closes.
Seattle Times reviews Café Munir.
Eater Seattle gives us a closer look at The Gerald. I’ll have our review of The Gerald posted by the end of the week.
My Ballard takes a closer look at the new, larger Starbucks on Market Street.
Sauced focuses on Urban Family Public House’s sandwich options.
According to Sauced, Bastille’s Erik Carlson makes the best Bloody Mary.
Seattle Magazine and My Ballard have the scoop about Renee Erickson (owner of The Walrus and the Carpenter) and her cute, mobile oyster wagon and Seattle Weekly names The Walrus and The Carpenter‘s Poached Halibut one of their 100 favorite dishes.
Nosh Pit reports that Benito’s Chicago Eatery will finally open this month.
Voracious talks beer at Urban Family Public House.
Seattleite Magazine Sloopersizes their Happy Hour at The Sloop.
My Ballard has more information about the renovation of Zak’s Burgers.
The Counter unexpectedly closes. We will really miss their Parmesan French Fries.
Mike Seely at Seattle Weekly waxes nostalgic about Hattie’s Hat.
Voracious has a nice look at Staple & Fancy during its slow times.
Nosh Pit has a list of places for Easter Sunday brunch which includes Ray’s Boathouse and Belle Clementine.
Sauced visits Ballard’s newest small distillery, Captive Spirits.
The Stranger’s Chow Bio features MacLeod’s Pub.
Voracious gives one of my favorites, El Camion, a try.
Voracious also reports on Ocho’s happy hour.
RoRo BBQ opens in Zestos old building. The food was certainly a step up from what Zesto’s had served.
Wow. Class Magazine names not one, but four Ballard bars (Bastille, Copper Gate, The Sexton, and Macleod’s Pub) in their list of Seattle’s 12 Best Bars.
Voracious has MacLeod’s Pub serve up a Singapore Sling.
The Seattle Weekly reviews The Sexton. Not that I agree with them about the food.
Ballard’s outpost of Po Dogs to open soon.
The new restaurant review show, “Check Please! Northwest”, featured Golden Beetle on their inaugural episode.
Voracious talks to Greg Bye, the owner of Ballard’s newest food cart, Streetzeria.
Seattleite discusses pairing food with red wine at Ray’s Boathouse.
Ballard Coffee Works, located next to Cupcake Royal, has softly opened according to Eater Seattle.
Location: 1556 NW 56th St
Sunday: All day
Open only three weeks, The Amber Den has used its small space well, making it a much needed spot to relax and enjoy a drink at the east end of Market Street. On the corner of 56th and 17th, in a space that has seen a couple of coffee shops come and go, The Amber Den is the type of place to go for a glass of wine and a few small bites before seeing a movie at the Majestic Bay.
The comfortable space has a mixture of tall bar stools and tables and groupings of couches and chairs that invite hanging out. There is an extra loft space that overlooks the main space with a few more tables, chairs, a couch and a bookcase with an eclectic array of donated books. With free wi-fi available, The Amber Den is an interesting alternative to the typical coffee shop, inviting you to stay a while.
Their small menu consists of a variety of small bites that range from meat and cheese plates to stuffed mushrooms to harissa spiced meatballs. They serve local beer and wine along with various non-alcoholic options. The most interesting thing about their wine list is the four choices of Washington State wines on tap.
Our server was very friendly and full of suggestions about the best wines and food. When J’s choice of wine came from a nearly tapped out keg, she brought a glass with the last bit, gratis, before bringing a glass of wine from the new keg.
J chose the Proletariat Bordeaux Blend. He found the flavor difference between the end of one keg and the new keg very interesting. The end of the keg wine was stronger with more tannin while the first glass of the new keg tasted far milder.
I had the Hard Row to Hoe Pinot Noir, a fresh and bright red with a bitey finish.
We ended up ordering nearly their entire menu. First was the Crostini Trio, a small plate of three homemade pestos (basil, tomato and chimichurri) and bread. The plating was very clever, offering three pestos and six thin slices of baguette. We both felt that the baguette slices needed to be toasted just a bit more. It was a little soft for crostini. The basil pesto was bright with a strong basil/olive oil flavor. The chimichurri was a little too grassy tasting for us. It needed a hit of citrus and/or salt to counteract the green flavor. The best of the three pestos was the tomato, with its rich, caramelized taste.
Next we decided to try the Den Fries, lightly seasoned potato pieces served with chipotle catsup and an avocado aioli. The potatoes could have been a bit crispier and done with some more seasoning … perhaps salt or lemon. The nearly flavorless avocado aioli could have done with the same extra hit of seasoning as the potatoes. The winner of this small plate was the perfectly spiced chipotle catsup. J remarked that they should bottle and sell it since it was so good.
The Albondigas, beef and lamb meatballs in a homemade honey-harissa glaze, were awesome. The little, slightly charred meatballs tasted unlike any meatball either of us had ever eaten. Perfectly cooked with a sweet-spicy sauce. Delicious. We would go back to The Amber Den again just for these meatballs alone.
Then came the Blue Cheese ‘n Bacon Mushrooms, mushroom caps stuffed with a blue cheese, bacon, and date filling. So tasty. The addition of the date to the filling helped to cut the sharpness of the high quality blue cheese. We could have eaten two or three more plates.
Our final small plate was the perfectly Garlic Shrimp tossed with garlic and chorizo. The addition of the hard, salty chorizo gave this dish a spiciness that uplifted what could have been a bland dish. The only issue I had was the odd, floral aftertaste of the garlic and J thought the portion was a little small. Otherwise it was quite good.
Proletariat Bordeaux Blend: 8.00 (7.00 Happy Hour)
Hard Row to Hoe Pinot Noir: 6.00 (5.00 Happy Hour)
Crostini Trio: 5.00 (4.00 Happy Hour)
Den Fries: 4.00 (3.00 Happy Hour)
Albondigas: 7.00 (6.00 Happy Hour)
Blue Cheese ‘n Bacon Mushrooms: 7.00 (6.00 Happy Hour)
Garlic Shrimp: 7.00 (6.00 Happy Hour)
The Amber Den was a neat, little place with a creative menu, good wine, and nice Happy Hour deals. The friendly staff and inviting atmosphere encourage lingering over a glass of wine and the tasty small plates. I can imagine J and I going back before seeing a movie or a show in Ballard and if they were open later, it would be the perfect place for a nightcap. We’ll be returning for the stuffed mushrooms and meatballs at the very least.
Will Louie’s be closing? Who knows? My Ballard has the news and the not so clear clarification on what’s going on.
Turns out that the Ballard Pizza Company, which is going in next door to the Ballard Loft, is the brainchild of Ethan Stowell of Staple & Fancy fame. Nosh Pit reports it will serve New York style pizza.
Ethan Stowell and Staple & Fancy are up for a James Beard Award as Best Northwest chef.
The Daily Meal names The Walrus and the Carpenter one of its top 101 restaurants in America for 2012.
Sauced blog suggests trying one of La Carte de Oaxaca’s rotating aqua frescas if you’re looking for a tasty non-alcoholic drink.
Bon Appetit magazine declares the Bacon, Oatmeal, and Raisin cookies from Hot Cakes (coming soon to Ballard Ave) as one of their Best Coffee Bar Desserts in America.
According the Ballard News-Tribune, Ballard Coffee Works is scheduled to open on March 24th in the old Tully’s space on the corner of Market and 22th.
The Stranger takes a look at The Fat Hen and the small island of restaurants on 15th and 70th.