Home > Restaurants > The BalMar – 5/23/11

The BalMar – 5/23/11


Location: 5449 Ballard Ave NW


Mon-Sun: 5-2

Happy Hour:

Mon: 5-11

Tue-Sun: 5-7

7 days a week after 10pm

J and I decided to see the newest Pirates of the Caribbean movie on Monday and chose the BalMar for our pre-movie dinner.

BalMar opened a few years ago in an old brick building next to India Bistro. The exterior and interior makes it look like a transplant from Belltown. Exposed grey steel and red brick. There are two levels, the main bar area that is open every night and the upper level, which has its own bar and a couple of pool tables, that opens depending upon how busy it is. On Friday and Saturday nights the BalMar clientele tends toward a douchey, Belltown sort as opposed to the more casual Ballard crowd.

Unless you’re fond of the Belltown crowd, I would avoid the BalMar on the weekends. The rest of the week is far more relaxed. There were only a few people there when we took our seats at one of the tall bar tables. Although they offer Happy Hour food prices all night on Mondays, J and I chose from their short entrée list.

The Service:

Both our server/bartender and the busboy were friendly, polite and quick. The bartender was especially helpful when J requested a bartender’s choice rum drink. He came up with a great choice off the top his head.

The Drinks:

I chose a Southside from their specialty cocktail menu. I don’t usually choose gin drinks but this one, a refreshing mix of gin, mint and lemon, turned out quite nice.

The bartender made a White Lion for J. He used a light rum and a nectarine liquor that turned the drink a pale grey/purple. J found it very refreshing and tasty.

The Food:

J was curious about the Grilled Cheese sandwich since it used gouda and caramelized onions. In his words, “Fucking awesome. The best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve had in my life.” He chose fries as his side and these were very, very good as well. These were twice fried, giving the fries a great crunchy texture, and served with a white truffle aioli that was out of this world.

I ordered the Grilled Top Sirloin Steak topped with herbed shallot butter and Mac & Cheese. The steak turned out to be flavorful and tender with the butter complimenting it with a light onion flavor. My only issue with the steak was that I requested it be cooked medium-rare and it arrived closer to medium. The small crock of mac & cheese negated that small misstep by being amazing. Rich and cheesy with a lovely, baked and crunchy top. Great mac & cheese.

The Price:

Southside: 8.50

White Lion: 8.50

Grilled Cheese: 8.00

Grilled Top Sirloin Steak: 12.00

The Verdict:

We both like the BalMar although we tend to forget it’s there. Never had bad service or food there. The staff is friendly. The drink menu is not only extensive but one of the most creative in Ballard. It manages to be sophisticated without being pretentious. I can definitely imagine going back at some point. Especially for their Happy Hour food menu, which includes divine Deviled Eggs, which they were sadly out of the night we visited.


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