Ballard Restaurant News Roundup – Mid-February

Work seems to be starting in the space next to the Ballard Loft. The liquor license application in the window says that the Ballard Pizza Company is moving in.

A neon orange stop work order is taped to the window at the Ballard Po’ Dog location. Looks like we’ll be waiting a bit longer for the restaurant/dance club complex to open.

The Stranger makes a visit to Belle Clementine for a communal dinner.

My Ballard reports on Ballard’s growth as the apparent center of Seattle’s brewery universe.

After 27 years, Le Gourmand and Sambar will close this summer. J and I will be dining there sometime before the June 2nd deadline. Eater Seattle breaks the news.  My Ballard has a bit more coverage.  Nosh Pit’s take on the unexpected closing. Finally, Eater Seattle has the scoop on the market price for Le Gourmand’s Market Street location.

The Washington State Farmer’s Market Association names Ballard Farmer’s Market one of the best in the state.

Seattle Weekly’s Voracious has a cocktail at Bitterroot BBQ,  dinner at Jhanjay Vegetarian Thai, and  noodles at Root Table.

Seattle Met’s Sauced blog talks to The Walrus and The Carpenter’s bartender about her signature drink.

Sauced also highlights Urban Family Public House’s long list of rotating beers.

Streetzeria, a pizzia food cart, takes up residence on the corner of 24th and Market.

The Amber Den, on the corner of 17th and 56th is now open. According to the menu posted at their door, they offer a handful of small plates, local beer, and red and white wines on draft.

Finally Ocho, one of our top ten  Ballard restaurants, gets some national attention in Travel & Leisure’s “What to See and Do in Seattle, Washington”. Thanks to Eater Seattle for the head’s up about this article.

Advertisements
Categories: Ballard, Restaurants, Seattle Tags: ,

Ballard Restaurant News – Febuary (First Half)

The beginning of February has been pretty slow on the Ballard Restaurant news front. The few places that are in the works (Benito’s Chicago Eatery and Po Dogs) seem to be in some sort of limbo.

Very soon J an I will start up the real reviews once again with Bitterroot and Belle Clementine at the top of that list.

Nice article about Café Munir, Loyal Heights’ new Lebanese restaurant, in Seattle Met’s, Nosh Pit and Seattle Weekly’s Voracious blog did a review of them as well.

My Ballard has more information on The Amber Den, the wine bar to open next month on the corner of 17th and 56th.

Bastille, Golden Beetle, and Staple & Fancy are all offering special Valentine’s Day dinners. Nosh Pit gives the details.

Seattle Met’s Sauced blog has the inside scoop on Hillard’s Beer, Ballard’s newest brewery.

Eater Seattle as the information on what looks to be a new dessert place coming soon to Ballard Ave.

And that’s pretty much it for now. Good eatings to you all.

 

The Worst of the Ballard Restaurant Project 2011

Here we go, the five Ballard restaurants that served us our least favorite meals of the Project. Unless these places step up the quality or change hands, we won’t be eating at these places again.

Neither of us enjoy giving a restaurant a bad review. We tried very hard to go into every place with an unbiased mind. Yes,  we had some negative, preconceived opinions of a few places but as we tried each restaurant, we hoped to be pleasantly surprised. Case in point, Ballard Smoke Shop Restaurant. From the outside, it looks like a seedy, greasy spoon but the great service and good, cheap breakfast changed our minds.

In the end, there were four places over the course of the project that were just not good and only one that was truly horrible. J and I aren’t posting this “Worst of” list with the idea of putting these places out of business … although one has already closed. Honestly, we kind of hope these restaurants read our reviews and try harder. That is really the common denominator of our least favorite Ballard restaurants: it seemed like these places just didn’t care about offering good food.

5. Smokin’ Pete’s BBQ

On this list because Smokin’ Pete’s was the biggest disappointment of the Project. J and I have had perfectly good BBQ at Smokin’ Pete’s before doing our “official” review but that day it seemed like they just didn’t care. Dry, tough meat shot through with gristle. Bland BBQ sauce. Mediocre sides that tasted like they came from the deli at Fred Meyer. Honestly, the BBQ warmed up in a microwave at The Viking was better. Considering the recent influx of quality BBQ available in Ballard (Bitterroot, RoRo BBQ, and The Boar’s Nest), Smokin’ Pete’s needs to step up their quality if they don’t want to be left in the dust.

4. Pho Than Brothers

Neither J nor I were fans of pho when we went to Pho Than Brothers for the Project and it did nothing to change our minds. Flavorless broth. Spongy, bland meat that only bore a passing resemblance to beef. We walked out of Pho Than Brothers not understanding, at all, the fascination with pho and remained that way until we had the outstanding pho at Pho Big Bowl.

3. Any Teriyaki Restaurant in Ballard

The teriyaki choices in Ballard range from okay (Anne’s Teriyaki) to just plain bad (Tony’s Teriyaki and Pho and Sunny Teriyaki). Dry, flavorless meat. Bland or overly sweet sauces. Limp salads. Since there are plenty of other cheap Asian food options in Ballard (Pho Big Bowl, Vietnam Cafe, and Uma Thai), J and I see no reason to ever get teriyaki in Ballard again.

2. Zesto’s

Yes, it is now closed but our meal at Zesto’s was one of the worst of the last year. Flavorless, obviously previously frozen beef patties. Lukewarm French fries. A burger that was barely a step-above McDonald’s. Once upon a time, going to Zesto’s was like taking a step back in time to the burger joints of the 1950’s but ever since they took the car off the roof, the quality disappeared. I have high hopes for RoRo BBQ which will be taking over the building and, supposedly, keeping the old Zesto’s charm.

1. Golden City Chinese Restaurant

Not only the worst meal we had in Ballard last year but the worst meal we’ve had in many years. Where to begin? An egg roll so over-fried that we couldn’t identify the ingredients. Two separate entrees that tasted as if they’d been cooked together. Pork fried rice so horrible that J described it thusly, “It tasted like it had been cooked in an old shoe … a week ago.” Golden City made Louie’s seem like the best Chinese food in Seattle. Unbelievably awful.

In retrospect, we didn’t have too many bad meals over the course of the Project. We’re lucky to live in Ballard where there are far more good to great restaurants than bad ones.

Next up with be our choices for “Best” types of food: burgers, fries, Italian, Long Island Iced Teas, etc.

Ballard Restaurant News – January

It’s been an exciting week for us. We’ve had two blogs pick up the story of this project and our Top Ten list.

Ballard Restaurant Project picks their top 10 of 2011 from My Ballard.

Couple eats their way through Ballard; reveals Top 10 restaurants in Ballard from The Ballard News Tribune.

A few Facebook pages linked to our Best of and Honorable Mentions lists as well: Tuesdays In Ballard, Cafe Mox, Sexton Seattle (#5 on our Best of list), The Twisted Geeks Postcast, and Card Kingdom.

Thank you to everyone who has spread the word about our project. We really appreciate it.

Zesto’s, one of our choices for worst meals of the project (post coming soon), closed and will reopen as a  RoRo BBQ.

The Amber Den, a comfortable wine bar, will open soon just off the east end of Market Street.

A nice article from the Seattle Weekly that gives a more in depth idea of what innovations Belle Clementine is bringing to Ballard’s restaurant scene. Plus, the owner, David Sanford, offers a recipe for Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad with Caraway Vinaigrette.

To warm up those cold, grey days, Bastille now offers a tropical cocktail menu.

A nice review of one of our favorites, The Monkey Bridge.

Kangaroo & Kiwi Pub will take Carnegie’s space that has been empty for a year.Once they open,  cuisines from all the continents except for Antarctica will be represented in the Ballard.

Bitterroot BBQ now open on Ballard Ave and making the street smell like smoking meat. Our review will be coming soon.

Urban Family Public House opens next door to The Sexton.

Yozen, a self-serve frozen yogurt store, opens on Market St.

Our number 10 restaurant, Flying Squirrel Pizza, now offers a delicious looking meatball pizza.I know where we’re eating this weekend.

A nice little piece about Jay Kuehner, bartender at Sambar. Yes, Le Gourmand and Sambar are on the short list of Ballard restaurants outside the Project’s original boundaries that we will review in the coming year.

Another from the Seattle Weekly, a short profile of our number 5 favorite restaurant, The Sexton.

There you go. I’ll try to make this post a weekly thing since Ballard’s restaurant scene is changing daily it seems.

Categories: Restaurants Tags: , ,

Honorable Mentions of the Ballard Restaurant Project 2011

This list of our next ten favorite restaurants is far more personal than the top ten. The top ten served us our favorite single meals of the project. The Honorable Mentions are a mix of nostalgic favorites, new-to-us restaurants that totally surprised us, and our go-to restaurants.

People’s Pub

We love People’s Pub partially out of nostalgia … it was the site of our first date … and partially because it serves good, hearty German inspired food. The sausage plate is one of the most affordable and tasty Happy Hour options in Ballard and the crème brulee is divine.

Café Mox

A nifty idea for a café where you can sit and play any sort of game. Great atmosphere.  Creative sandwiches and appetizers made with quality ingredients and one of the best Caesar salads in Ballard.

Shiku

Our favorite sushi restaurant in Ballard. Fresh fish. Really good gyoza. The best Long Island Iced Tea in Ballard. And the best women’s restroom in town.

King’s Hardware

Ballard’s best hamburger. A creative list of toppings for a patty that tastes like it actually came from a cow. The sweet potato fries are delicious and every Monday they offer an awesome deal on their tasty buffalo chicken wings.

Root Table

Tasty, Asian-fusion small plates served with good cocktails.

The Bal-Mar

Great cocktails and bistro fare. The twice-fried French fries with white truffle aioli is divine.

Shelter Lounge

A big surprise. Interesting appetizers … who would have thought that PB & J jalepeno poppers would be good. Really good sandwiches and entrees. Tied for the best Long Island Iced Tea in Ballard.

Ballard Loft

Another surprise. Delicious, fancy hot dogs with really good fries.  A fabulous jalapeno margarita.

India Bistro

Very good Indian food. I put it on this list because I really like India Bistro whenever a craving for na’an and Chicken Tika Masala hits.

Bad Albert’s

Bad Albert’s came back from the grave with an updated interior but most of the old favorites. Great breakfasts with a really good fried egg and bacon sandwich and outstanding huevos rancheros. Lunch and dinner are pretty good as well.

Other Honorable Mentions:

Portalis. The Hi-Life. The Market Arms. The Monkey Bridge. Pho Big Bowl . Uma Thai Cuisine. Staple & Fancy.

Next up: The five worst restaurants.

Categories: Restaurants Tags: , , ,

Best of the Ballard Restaurant Project 2011

Here it is. Finally. Our list of the top ten Ballard restaurants of 2011. When asked by friends, family, and strangers, these are the restaurants we consistently said were the best and we’ve had a number of people thank us for our suggestions.

It actually wasn’t that hard narrowing it down to ten from the 82 Ballard restaurants we visited. Our top ten turned out to be a good mix of cuisines and price points. They spanned the course of this project, which makes me think we spread out the good ones fairly well.

10. Tie

J’s Choice: Flying Squirrel Pizza

For J, Flying Squirrel Pizza has the best pizza in Seattle. Fabulous crust. Fresh and unique ingredients. Inexpensive for the quality. Quick. He looks forward to going whenever we decide to have pizza in Ballard. I like it, as well, but prefer the wood-fired crust of places like Veraci and Via Tribulani which is why I chose some place else as number 10.

H’s Choice: Bastille

The most beautiful restaurant in Ballard with food and cocktails to match. Delicious cocktails with a French twist. Good, solid French cuisine made with ingredients so fresh that some of them are grown on the roof. A great place to go for a special occasion. Our dinner there, for our first anniversary, was one of the more memorable of this project.

9. Copper Gate

In the top ten on the deliciousness of the Gravlax and Swedish Meatballs alone. J counts the gravlax, mustard, and pumpernickel bread as one of the best bites of food he’s had in his life. I liked the food, cocktails, and the fun décor mix of rustic Scandinavian furniture with old porn. A great nod to Ballard’s heritage.

8. The Boar’s Nest

Good, relatively inexpensive, hole-in-the-wall BBQ. Tender. Flavorful. Friendly staff. We loved how they provided different regional BBQ sauces on the table.  We have looked forward to going back ever since our first trip.

7.Pasta Bella

Do you want eat hearty, traditional Italian food and feel like you’re on the set of The Godfather? Then Pasta Bella is the place for you. A huge menu of fresh Italian dishes at reasonable prices plus a pretty fine wine list. Sure there are “nicer” Italian restaurants out there but they just don’t have the atmosphere of Pasta Bella.

6. Thai Thani

The best Thai food in Ballard and some of the best in Seattle. We’ve been back multiple times since our initial visit. The menu consists of the usual Thai favorites along with an extensive list of unique items. Huge portions and a fun cocktail menu round out a great place. Sure, it doesn’t have the ambiance of Thaiku but the food is way better.

5. The Sexton

Other than a plating misstep … that they subsequently changed after reading our review … our visit to The Sexton, on their opening weekend, was great. Rustic, comfortable space. Friendly servers. Fabulous, creative cocktails. Amazing hush puppies. Southern down-home cooking with a contemporary twist and quality ingredients. A great addition to Ballard’s mid-range, high quality dining establishments.

4. Ocho

We love Ocho, one of the first of Ballard’s creative, high quality restaurants. Awesome tapas. The bacon wrapped dates (La Carolina) continue to be one of our favorite single bites of food. The tapas are so delicious that it’s hard not to order everything available. J calls it “Spanish sushi”.

3. La Carte de Oaxaca

Best and most authentic Mexican food in Seattle. Fabulous cocktails. Small plates of amazing food made with the freshest of ingredients. Fresh tortillas that will spoil you forever more. Totally and completely worth the wait you will invariably have..

2. The Walrus and the Carpenter

If you think the nation has overhyped The Walrus and the Carpenter, you’d be wrong. It IS as good as everyone says. The only reason it is not tied for number one on this list is because it is so blasted hard to get a seat. Fresh, creative cocktails. Delicious, regional oysters. The salmon tartare is one of the best dishes we’ve eaten. Ever. Worth any sort of wait to get a seat. If you enjoy good food, you owe it to yourself to try The Walrus and the Carpenter, the best of the new flock of small-plate eateries in Seattle.

1. Plaka Estiatorio

We ate our review meal at Plaka Estiatorio way back in April and it has been at the top of our Best of Ballard list ever since. We have never had a bad meal here, lunch or dinner. Everyone is super friendly. The meze are fantastic with the best hummus we’ve ever had topping the list. The ingredients are either local or brought in from Greece giving every dish a fresh, authentic taste. Their lunch gyros … omg, the gyros are phenomenal. Anything you order will be cooked perfectly. Seafood. Lamb. Beef. And the avgolemono soup is a delight. Go to Plaka Estiatorio. Really. Don’t wait. You will not be sorry.

Next week I’ll post the Honorable Mentions. The ten restaurants that didn’t make the top ten but we want to highlight them. After that … the worst of Ballard restaurants.

Ballard Restaurant News December 2011

Even though the official Ballard Restaurant Project is over, J and I are going to continue to review new Ballard restaurants,  places that were outside our self-proscribed boundry, review some non-Ballard places both in Seattle and elsewhere, and, on a bi-weekly basis, gather all the Ballard restaurant news. Considering how the restaurant scene in Ballard changes even on a weekly basis, I figured gathering info from various sources would be helpful.

According to their Facebook page, Bitterroot BBQ, on Ballard Ave next door to Old Towne Alehouse, is hoping to open by January 17th.

The Ravioli Station was featured on The Stranger’s “Happiest Hour”.

A look at Ballard’s newest and prettiest bar, Macleod’s Pub.

Bastille to start a $1 oyster happy hour on Monday-Wednesday.

Ballard’s Po’ Dog is going to actually be Po’ Dog, a Scandinavian themed restaurant called the Queen of Norway, and a dance club.

Nice article about the awesome, new BBQ joint, The Boar’s Nest.

Starbucks moving to Lombardi’s/5 Corner space on Market and 20th.

Bad Albert’s reopens with a completely refurbished interior and lots of the old favorites. I must say the Huevos Rancheros are amazing.