Home > Restaurants > The Hi-Life – 4/16/11

The Hi-Life – 4/16/11


Location: 5425 Russell Ave NW


Sun-Thurs: 8:30- whenever

Fri-Sat: 8:30-whenever

Happy Hour:



The Hi-Life is located just off Market Street in what used to be a firehouse. It still retains much of the original firehouse feel. Brick exterior. Huge sliding doors that are opened when the weather gets nice. A bell tower type structure that now has a neon sign reading “Eat” at the top. The interior is open, light-filled and airy with a bar area separated from the main dining room and a huge open kitchen.

It’s one of the few places in Ballard that can accommodate large groups. All one has to do is make a reservation at the front desk. After our wedding last year, J and I invited the small wedding party to lunch at the Hi-Life so we do have a certain fondness for the place.

The Service:

Since it was Happy Hour on a Saturday, the place was nearly at capacity when we arrived and there were people waiting to be seated when we left. Considering this, we were seated, ordered our meal and served in record time by a friendly, polite and amazingly not frazzled server. Huge kudos for the service.

The Drinks:

I ordered an Alpine Hefeweizen. The hoppy flavor was a little stronger than I like in my hefeweizens but it was okay. J had the Happy Hour drink special, Whidbey Island Iced Tea, coke, soda, lemon and Absolute Wild Tea. He deemed it so refreshing that on a hot day he would easily down a few of them.

The Food:

For an appetizer, we couldn’t resist the Spring in a Blanket, asparagus, portabella mushrooms and prosciutto wrapped in pastry served with roasted garlic-lemon goat cheese. Even though I found the pastry to be a bit under-done, these wraps were very tasty. The asparagus was cooked just right with a surprisingly aggressive flavor. The goat cheese dip was a perfect compliment to the rest of the ingredients with a light, springy herb flavor.

I also ordered a small, Happy Hour Caesar Salad. While not the best Caesar salad I’ve had thus far in Ballard, it was perfectly acceptable. The dressing was a little bland with none of the anchovy taste I prefer.

As an entree I chose the Rosemary Chicken, a pan seared half chicken with roasted mushrooms, served with grilled mascarpone polenta and an arugula salad. I should have noted the arugula salad when I ordered which led me to having double the roughage with dinner. Overall, I found this entrée just okay. The arugula salad and the roasted mushrooms were both a bit over salted and I love salt, so this is saying something. Other than the saltiness, the mushrooms were well cooked with a fine, meaty texture. The chicken was moist and relatively flavorful though I tasted not a hint of rosemary. One would think if they’re going to call it “Rosemary Chicken” it should have some sort of rosemary flavor. Not their best effort, to be honest.

J ordered the Brown Butter Gnocchi, with fennel sausage, grape tomatoes and topped with an arugula-fennel salad. He’d never had a brown butter gnocchi before and found it really different and flavorful.

The Price:

Alpine Hefeweizen: 3.00 (Happy Hour price)

Whidbey Island Iced Tea: 5.00 (Happy Hour price)

Small Caesar Salad: 4.00 (Happy Hour price)

Spring in a Blanket: 8.50

Brown Butter Gnocchi: 15.50

Rosemary Chicken: 16.50

The Verdict:

Despite the slight failure of my entrée, J and I will gladly return to the Hi-Life. As one of the few places in Ballard that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week, it’s a go-to place when we can’t decide what we want to eat.

The specials on the menu change seasonally so there are always interesting choices available. Their weekday, $5.55 breakfast specials are extremely good for the price. My favorite is the delicious goat cheese and herb scramble. They also have a great French Onion soup. The Sunday Fried-Chicken Suppers are phenomenal. Their Happy Hour is one of the best in Ballard. Most of the food is in the $3-5 range and uniformly tasty as hell. Especially the seasonal petite pizzas and the BBQ sliders.


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