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The Market Arms – 3/29/2011

Website

Location: 2401 NW Market St

Hours:

Mon-Fri: 11am-2am

Sat-Sun: 10am-2am

Happy Hour:

Daily: 3-6

Sun-Wed: 10pm-12am

After a meh phone interview, J offered to console my job woes with a dinner out. I chose the Market Arms because I happen to like their food and 20oz pints of Strongbow cider.

The Market Arms sits at the west end of the main part of Market St, located in what used to be an antique furniture store. When refurbishing it as a British style pub, the owners incorporated the huge display windows and the open interior to great effect. It really is one of the nicer bars in Ballard, with a British theme that doesn’t get too twee. Lots of dark wood and dark green walls. Plenty of seating, along the walls, at round tables in the center and stand-up tables nearer to the bar. There’s a pool table near the back, TVs that play soccer whenever there’s a game and a great juke box filled with 1980’s British music, when it’s working. Even when the juke box isn’t working, there is always ‘80’s Brit pop playing. The Market Arms is still the only place I have ever heard The Housemartins played.

On Fridays and Saturdays the bar can have a “meat market/douchtastic” vibe but the rest of the week it’s a comfortable place to have a pint and some thoroughly bad for you British style pub grub. Due to its size, the Market Arms is also a great place for group events and you can reserve tables for groups by calling the number on their website.

The Service:

Considering that there weren’t that many people in the pub, the service was kind of spotty. I had arrived well before J, who had some bus issues from work, and received my pint of Strongbow and order of Jalapeño Poppers fairly quickly. The service issues started once J arrived. I took a while for someone, a different server altogether, to take his drink order and then took an even longer time for our original server to take our food order. They have a tendency to be a bit understaffed.

The Drinks:

A British pint of draft Strongbow cider. 20oz. Nuff said.

J had his usual Long Island Iced Tea. He has said that the Long Islands at the Market Arms are the best in Ballard and this one was no exception.

The Food:

I have an inexplicable fondness for Jalapeno Poppers, those fried nuggets of breaded slices of jalapeno pepper stuffed with cream cheese. Just about the only place I can get these disgusting things is the Market Arms so I ordered a basket while I waited for J to arrive. Most of the time the cream cheese interior is molten to the point where I usually burn my tongue when I bite into the popper. Last night they were a just hair undercooked. Not cold but just warm and the breading tasted a bit doughy. I’ve had better … if you can define any jalapeno popper as “better” … there other times.

For my entrée, I decided on the Sausage & Mash, 2 British bangers served over creamy mashed potatoes with onion gravy. The bangers were great with a nice snap to the outer casing and a sweetish pork interior that held together when sliced. The “creamy” mashed potatoes weren’t exactly creamy. More rustic with chunks of unpeeled red potatoes. The potatoes tasted better when paired with the brown, thick onion gravy. The gravy was lovely with slices of caramelized onion and a slight vinegary taste.

J ordered the large Fish & Chips, 2 pieces of arctic cod dipped in beer batter with tartar sauce and fries. He’s said it’s one of his favorite fish & chip plates in the city. The fries are thick-cut, with the peel left on. Crispy on the outside and nice and creamy on the inside. The fish portions are huge … although, he claims they’ve shrunk a little since the pub opened …

The Price:

20oz Strongbow Cider: $5.25

Long Island Iced Tea: $8.00

Jalapeno Poppers: $5.00

Sausage and Mash: $9.00

Large Fish and Chips: $11.00

The Verdict:

When it first opened, the Market Arms was exceptional. The drinks were cheap and strong (for months J got $5.50 Long Islands there). The food was great, consistent and the portions were huge. The juke box worked. Now, while the Market Arms has its faults: spotty service and an occasional inconsistency with some of the food, we’ll go back. The atmosphere, the music and the British food on the menu make it one of our go-to restaurants in Ballard. I would definitely say take a chance on the food. Last week I had a lunch crab cake special there that was really quite good. It’s a good place to hang out with friends, eat some pub grub and listen to British music.

And, well, the 20oz draft Strongbow. I’d go back to the Market Arms for that alone.

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