Posts Tagged ‘French’

Bastille Café & Bar – 7/14/11


Location: 5307 Ballard Ave NW


Sunday Brunch: 10-3

Dinner: Sun-Thurs: 5:30-10

Fri-Sat: 5:30-11

Happy Hour:

Mon-Sun: 4:30-6

Sun-Thurs: 10pm-2am

Bar Hours:

Sun-Thurs: 4:30-12

Fri-Sat: 4:30-2

I remember when the building Bastille inhabits was a wood and metal workshop where there was a glowing eyeball on top of a giant metal spider in the window. Part of me wishes they had kept the spider for Bastille. Perhaps guarding the rooftop garden.

Bastille is the loveliest restaurant in Ballard. The main dining room, decorated in white tile and black iron work, feels like a French bistro. Large windows light the huge dining area where a bar and circular fire pit sit on one side and traditional booths on the other. French films play on the TV above the bar. Through glass French doors on the left is additional seating in a conservatory patio area. Add to this an intimate back bar and a beer garden on nice days and Bastille is hands down the largest restaurant in Ballard.

Frankly, from the beginning of this project, I had it in my head to visit Bastille for our first wedding anniversary. How could we resist going to a restaurant called Bastille on Bastille Day? Since I knew we would not be the only ones with this idea, I made dinner reservations two weeks in advance.

The Service:

Bastille was packed when arrived a little after 7pm. Even though our reservations were for 7:15, we were seated immediately at a booth. One of the few drawbacks of Bastille is the acoustics. The huge, open space can get very noisy when full.

Our server was great. Friendly. Helpful. She gets major points for bringing us complimentary champagne after J mentioned it was our first anniversary. Even though there were people waiting to be seated the entire time we were there, we never felt rushed. Our server’s attentiveness was one of the things that made our evening delightful.

The Drinks:

The Champagne was great. Crisp and cold.

We also ordered from their specialty cocktail menu. I chose the French 75 (gin, champagne, lemon and sugar) to keep with the champagne theme. It was quite refreshing. Like lemonade with just a touch of sharpness.

J ordered the Monk’s Habit, calvados, aquavit, Benedictine and antica formula. He thought it was very interesting and really good.

The Food:

We started our meal with half a dozen Penn Cove Oysters. These large, meaty oysters had an amazing, salty ocean flavor. The mignonette that accompanied it was tart but mild enough that it never overwhelmed the oyster’s distinct sea taste.

Next came a lovely, crunchy Baguette with sea salt butter. At each table is a small bottle of Dijon mustard so I added that to my slice of baguette to give it an extra sharpness.

Along with the baguette came three slices of Tete de Cochon, a terrine of pig’s head with semi-hard boiled eggs and mustard greens. The eggs were less cooked than I’m used to but delicious none the less. The mustard greens had a saltyness that complemented the creamy, fattiness of the Tete de Cochon. The chunks in the terrine gave an intense, smoky ham flavor. J was a bit wary of something made of pig’s head but found it as delicious as I did.

For a main course, I ordered the traditional Steak Frites, a grilled flat iron steak in red wine sauce and mushroom confit with French fries and garlic aioli. My stead was cooked to a perfect medium-rare. Juicy and tender with a peppery coating. The red wine sauce had a slightly bitter aftertaste and was just a bit too salty though. The mushroom confit was nicely cooked without being mushy.

The frites came in a paper cone and were twice cooked to perfection. Crunchy on the outside, creamy inside and lightly salted. The garlic aioli was good but a bit too mild for my taste.

J chose the Confit de Canard, crispy duck leg with sweet corn, mustard greens and smoked oyster mushroom jus. J declared it the best duck leg he’d ever had. The skin was really crispy. It was very tender and not at all greasy like previous duck he’s ordered elsewhere. The duck flavor nicely merged with all the other components of the dish. The only issue was that he felt the dish was a little too salty.

As a shared side, I ordered the Tomates a La Provencale, baked tomatoes, herbed bread crumbs and goat cheese. The main reason I ordered this dish was because I have a recipe for tomates a la Provencale and wanted to see what it tasted like. The best part of this side was the tomatoes. They must either grown their own tomatoes in a hothouse on the rooftop or buy them from a grower. These were the freshest, best tasting tomatoes I’ve had for a long time. An intense tomato flavor. While I would have preferred the goat cheese to be a bit stronger, this dish was delicious.

Since neither of us could resist, we ordered the Butterscotch Crème Brulee with black cardamom shortbread for dessert. Hands down the best crème brulee in Ballard. The serving is more than big enough for two to share. The sugar crust was perfectly torched to a crispy, glass-like texture. The savory, spiciness of the cardamom shortbread complimented the rich, butterscotch custard.

The Price:

French 75: 9.00

Monk’s Habit: 10.00

Oysters: 15.00

Baguette: 3.00

Tete du Cochon: 12.00

Steak Frites: 24.00

Confit du Canard: 24.00

Butterscotch Crème Brulee: 8.00

The Verdict:

We had an awesome meal. The drinks. The food. The service, especially, made our first wedding anniversary a night to cherish. Bastille is a great place to celebrate a special occasion. Sure the main courses are a bit pricey and ours were a little over salted but the great experience we had more than made up for those minor issues. Barring being elsewhere during our future anniversaries, I could picture making this a yearly thing.

So, yes we will go back to Bastille. In fact, I’d like to go back before the project ends. They offer a weekend brunch I’d like to try as well as, during the summer, a tour of their rooftop garden. And their happy hour menu looks delicious and much cheaper than their regular fare.