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Posts Tagged ‘Sandwiches’

The Other Coast Café – 12/4/11

Website

Location: 5315 Ballard Ave NW

Hours:

Mon-Sat: 10:30am-7pm

Sunday: 10:30pm-6pm

Cash Only

The Other Coast Café was one of the first places to open up on the block of Ballard Ave that now includes places like Bastille, Shiku, and The Nobel Fir. It’s a hole in the wall, narrow place with a handful of tables, a long counter lining one wall, and a huge glass deli case. If there’s more than a couple of people in line, the place feels packed.

The menu of salads, sides, and hot and cold sandwiches, hangs above the small prep area. They also offer chips, canned soda, bottled juice, and a small selection of beer.

The Service:

Friendly if a bit frazzled. This was to be expected considering we chose to go on a Sunday afternoon while the Ballard Farmer’s Market was in full swing right outside the door.

The Drinks:

J was pleasantly surprised to find RC Cola in the cooler. I chose a bottle of Thomas Kemper Black Cherry soda.

The Food:

J ordered a Meatball Sub (spiced, homemade meatballs topped with marinara and provolone served in a baguette) out of nostalgia. It was a traditional meatball sub that reminded him of the ones he had as a kid back in Pennsylvania. It tasted good and was made with fresh ingredients. His only problem with it was the fact that he had to eat it with a fork. He actually wished the meatballs had been smaller so he could have picked it up to eat. A weird issue but that one problem broke the aura of nostalgia for him.

I chose the Reuben, pastrami, swiss, sauerkraut, and mustard on rye bread. The pastrami was flavorful and moist but lacked the thick black pepper crust I like. There was way too much sauerkraut on the sandwich. So much that it overwhelmed the other flavors. The rye bread was toasted a bit too long, making it dry and crumbly. Okay over allbut nothing special.

The Price:

Meatball Sub: 8.35

Reuben: 8.55

The Verdict:

The Other Coast Café had good sandwiches, made with quality, fresh ingredients but I doubt we’ll return any time soon. It just wasn’t anything special about their sandwiches. I could make a pastrami sandwich at home for less money. If we want a sandwich, we tend to go for something different and interesting, like the selection at Café Mox or The Shelter.

Smokin’ Pete’s BBQ – 12/3/11

Website

Location: 1918 NW 65th

Hours:

Tues-Sat: 11am-9pm

Sunday: 11:30am-9pm

Seattle has never been much of a BBQ town. For a long time, there have been just a handful of BBQ joints scattered all over the city. Smokin’ Pete’s, on the corner of 65th and 20th, has been the Ballard BBQ outpost for years. Housed in a bright yellow building, Smokin’ Pete’s is the place I always took my BBQ loving father. It’s a simple place with two glass deli cases flanking the cash register and a few tables. The menu, naturally, consists of BBQ meats, pork, chicken, and beef, along with sides like potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, etc. They offer canned sodas, a couple of ciders, and beer.

The Service:

The guys at the counter were friendly and our orders came out pretty quick.

The Drink:

J and I each had a can of Faygo Root Beer.

The Food:

J ordered a small plate of Singin’ Man Pork Ribs, Memphis dry rubbed pork ribs with a piece of cornbread and mac and cheese. He found the meat dry and tough enough that it needed the thin, too sweet BBQ sauce to make it palatable. The cornbread was equally dry and rather flavorless. The mac and cheese tasted like the stuff they sell in the deli at Fred Meyer. Not quality BBQ.

I chose the Working Man’s Lunch, a slow smoked beef brisket sandwich with hush puppies. The beef was moist and had good flavor but had large, gelatinous chunks of fat running through it . The sauce was too sweet for my taste. The baguette, that the brisket was served on, was oddly greasy. The whole sandwich felt kind of thrown together. The hush puppies had the consistency of a white cake and was just as bland. I expect hush puppies to have a distinct corn flavor and some heft to them. These didn’t.

The Price:

Singin’ Man Pork Ribs: 13.75

The Working Man’s Lunch: 8.00

The Verdict:

We were disappointed by Smokin’ Pete’s. The sauce was mediocre. The meat was either too dry or too fatty. The sides were so generic that they might as well have come from a grocery store. We’ve eaten at Smokin’ Pete’s before and thought it was okay. Now, not so much. It seems like they got too used to being the only BBQ game in Ballard. They haven’t had any competition for years so it’s like they slacked off on quality. Now that not one, but two BBQ places have (The Boar’s Nest) or will (Bitterroot) open in Ballard, Smokin’ Pete’s needs to step up their game because, frankly, The Boar’s Nest blew them out of the water on all fronts.

The Sloop Tavern – 10/29/11

Website

Location: 2830 NW Market St

Hours:

Mon-Sun: 11am-2am

One of the things we’ve learned over the course of this Project is that there are more pieces of Old Ballard left than you might think. Fine dining and hipster hangouts have not taken over all of Ballard. Saturday night, J and I walked the length of Ballard from our apartment on the east side of 15th to visit one such holdout.

The Sloop Tavern has been a Ballard institution for over 50 years. Located near the Ballard Locks, the seaman themed painting on the side of the unassuming cinderblock building lets you know immediately who the clientele of the Sloop is, if the name didn’t already. The interior has that interchangeable community bar look that’s the same across the country. A long bar along one wall. Numerous TVs showing two or three different sports games. Tatty Formica tables and red vinyl booths or beat up wooden chairs. There are a couple of pool tables, a pinball machine, and a few video games opposite the bar.

The menu at The Sloop matches the décor. Typical pub fare. Burgers. Sandwiches. Fried seafood. They have 9 beers and one cider on tap. Their claim to fame is the ability for customers to “Sloopersize” their draft beverages to a 33.8 oz, frosty mug that may take two hands to lift.

The Service:

It wasn’t busy at all when we went to The Sloop. Just a few people watching football or chatting. At one point, a couple dressed as Calvin and Hobbes came in, obviously for the Halloween party that was to take place later in the evening. The bartender, who also acted as waiter, was friendly and our food came out amazingly quick.

The Drinks:

J and I chose to Sloopersize our Stongbow Ciders, a nice, dry cider. The mug was so heavy that I had to use two hands to lift it. It took us so long to finish our ciders that we were able to finish and write our preliminary thoughts about our meal.

The Food:

J ordered the Fish and Chips. He said the fish was really fresh and surprisingly good considering he doesn’t usually like beer batter. Usually the batter overwhelms the flavor the fish but that wasn’t the case here. The fries were okay. He was glad he chose the seasoned fries option because otherwise they would have been rather bland.

I chose a BLT with a side of potato salad. This was BLT prime. The BLT from which all BLTs are descended. A BLT in its purest form. Lightly toasted, plain white bread. Mayonnaise. A pale tomato. The brilliant choice of shredded lettuce, thus keeping the other ingredients from sliding out from between the slices of bread. The salty bacon was fried to perfection. Crispy with just a slight chewiness. All it needed was a little yellow mustard. Was it a gourmet, fancy BLT? No, but it captured the essence of a BLT. The potato salad was a little too sweet. I think they used Miracle Whip rather than Mayonnaise. I added yellow mustard, salt, and pepper to make it more to my taste.

The Price:

Sloopersize Strongbow Cider: 2 @ 6.50

3 Piece Fish & Chips: 8.75

BLT with Potato Salad: 8.75

The Verdict:

We really liked The Sloop Tavern. It didn’t feel as insular and cliquey as the other old school Ballard bars we’ve been to over the course of this project. People were friendly. The atmosphere was comfortable. The food was better than most dive bars and a Sloopersized Strongbow Cider was awesome. We’ll definitely take the hike back.

 

Paratii Craft Bar – 10/1/11 – Closed

Website

Location: 5463 Leary Ave NW

Hours:

Mon-Sat: 5pm-2am

Sunday: 5pm-10pm

Happy Hour:

Mon-Sat: 5pm-7pm

Sunday: All Day

Paratii Craft Bar is a Brazilian themed restaurant located on Leary in what used to be Mr. Spot’s Chai House. It’s a wide-open space with large windows, space for a band in one corner, a relatively small selection of tables and chairs and a tall bar lining the far wall. Décor tends toward a nautical theme with miniature and life-sized boats hanging from the ceiling.

Paratii boasts a large selection of alcohol with an array of creative cocktails. The food, naturally, has a Brazilian bent, leaning heavily toward peppers, coconut, and seafood. The night we were there, around 7pm on a Saturday night, it was rather empty.

The Service:

Our server was friendly and the food came out quickly but once we had finished our meal, it took a long time to get our check. Way too long, since we were the only ones in the restaurant by that time.

The Drinks:

J was in a piratical mood so he ordered the Captain’s Blood, bourbon, cherry brandy, and lemon. He liked it, saying it tasted like a Jolly Rancher.

I chose the London Sunrise, cumari pepper infused gin, lime juice, and tonic water. The cumari pepper flavor overwhelmed the entire drink and added an intense spiciness that prevented me from finishing it.

The Food:

We ordered two appetizers. First, Mango and Gorgonzola Crostini, slices of mango and melted gorgonzola on a goat-buttered baked crostini. We found these little bites very interesting, with a lovely contrast between the sweetness of the mango and the sharp, stinky cheese flavor of the gorgonzola. I would have never thought of putting these elements together and plan on attempting my own version at home.

Our other appetizer was the Scheherazade Steak, seared bites of urfa biber pepper marinated beef with onion and served with crostini. The steak was tender with an odd, pleasing peppery spice. The only problem was the presentation. The bites of steak were far too big for the too few pieces of crostini provided.

J ordered the Crab and Shrimp Sandwich, crab meat, bay shrimp, green onion, cilantro, and parsley mixed with coconut mayo, topped with napa cabbage on a French baguette. He felt the crab and shrimp flavors were lost in the coconut mayo. The filling was too light and too sparse for the heavy baguette. It would have been better served in a pita. Overall, he thought the portions were too small for the price.

I chose the Misto Quente, a Chicago ham and Dubliner cheese sandwich on a Macrina brioche roll with herb tomato relish and served with sweet potato fries. The roll was quite good, giving a sweetness that complimented the salty, prosciutto flavored ham. The flavor of Dubliner cheese, which I usually enjoy, was lost in the overly large roll. The tomato relish did add a nice punch of vinegar. The sweet potato fries were really good. Crisp, sweet, and salty. I’d say these were some of the best sweet potato fries in Ballard.

The Price:

Captain’s Blood: 8.00

London Sunrise: 9.00

Mango & Gorgonzola Crostini: 4.00

Scheherazade Steak: 5.00

Crab and Shrimp Sandwich: 12.00

Misto Quente: 11.00

The Verdict:

Paratii Craft Bar was disappointing. It’s a neat space, in what should be a good spot but other than the mango/gorgonzola crostini and the sweet potato fries, everything was not that great. The admittedly interesting flavors overwhelmed my drink and J’s sandwich. The portions were rather small for the price, feeling more like lunch rather than dinner items. The service was uneven and, at times, unreasonably slow.

Neither of us expects to return to Paratii, which is too bad. The space is great and there was such potential for something unexpected and interesting being added to Ballard’s array of restaurants. To be honest, considering there was hardly anyone in there on a Saturday night, I don’t expect Paratii to last long.

Shelter Lounge – 9/30/11

Website

Location: 4910 Leary Ave NW

Hours:

Mon-Fri: 4pm-2am

Sat-Sun: 11am-2am

Happy Hour:

Mon-Sat: 4pm-6pm

Sunday: All Day

Shelter Lounge is located on the south end of Leary, near the Ballard Bridge, in a building that once housed a garage before being converted into a small bar called The Station, for a short time. When The Station went under, the building went through an extensive renovation, adding a large, glass enclosed seating area to the previously small building. The wood and stone lined interior features a cozy row of booths at one side, the bright enclosed patio on the other side with a huge circular bar separating the two. They serve beer, wine, and a full bar with a creative specialty cocktail menu. The food menu is rather small, with a few interesting appetizers, sandwiches, and just three entrees.

J and I had never gotten around to visiting Shelter Lounge. It’s in a weird spot, off the main drag of Ballard’s food scene with only the 2 Bit Saloon, across the street, to keep it company. It always seemed the sort of place where douche bags and frat-boys would hang out, which added to the reasons we avoided going there. According to one of the servers we spoke to, our assessment is correct at least on Friday and Saturday nights when the place becomes something akin to a club.

We decided to go early on Friday night, expecting it to be crowded. Instead, we found a comfortable, friendly place that, much like the Bal-Mar and Ballard Loft, turned out to be a huge surprise. So surprising, in fact, that we took a couple of friends back to Shelter Lounge on Sunday afternoon to try the food and watch the end of the Seahawk game. For the first time in this project, we’ll be reviewing two visits to the same place in one post.

The Service:

On Friday, we arrived just before a second server came on shift, so service was a little erratic but friendly. On Sunday the place was nearly empty so service was quick and the server was friendly and chatty.

The Drinks:

On both visits J, as usual, ordered a Long Island Iced Tea. In his opinion, Shelter’s is now tied with Shiku’s WMD for the best Long Island in Ballard. Both times it was mixed perfectly.

There were a number of interesting selections on their specialty cocktail menu, so I tried a different drink each time. On Friday, I chose the Ballard 75, Aviation gin, fresh lemon, agave nectar, shaken, and topped with champagne. It was cool and refreshing with a nice contrast between the piney gin and the crisp, dry champagne.

On Sunday, I decided to try the Jalapeno and Cucumber Margarita, Hornitos tequila, lime, chopped jalapeno peppers and cucumbers topped with Sprite. The spiciness of the jalapeno and the coolness of the cucumber played off each other quite well. Unlike some pepper infused drinks, the jalapeno did not overwhelm the other flavors.

The Food:

Appetizers:

On Friday night, out of sheer “WTF???” curiosity, we ordered the Avocado Fries appetizer, slices of avocado breaded with panko, deep fried, and served with chipotle aioli. Surprisingly delicious. The texture contrast between the crunchy panko and the creamy avocado floored us. The spicy aioli gave the fries a flavor punch that melded well. I will admit that I’m a fan of People’s Pub’s deep fried pickles but I would choose these avocado fries over them any day of the week. These were so good, we ordered them again on Sunday in order to share the wonder with our friends.

On Sunday, J ordered the PB&J Jalapeno Poppers, panko breaded jalapeno peppers, deep fried, stuffed with cream cheese and peanut butter and served with a sweet, spicy jelly. J loved these, especially the above-average peanut butter used. I’m not usually a fan of peanut butter but I soon found the flavor combination oddly addictive, especially the sweet jelly that gave them a spicy, fruity kick.

Entrees & Sandwiches:

On Friday, J ordered the Carne Asada entrée, marinated steak with pico de gallo, corn on the cob, and mashers. When it arrived, he said the loaded plated looked like something you’d get at someone’s home. The carne asada was cooked to a perfect medium-rare, tender and flavorful. The marinade gave just a hint of spiciness while the well cooked side of corn on the cob, dusted with cayenne pepper, added another note of spice. J loved the mashers. Perfectly mashed potatoes that were neither lumpy nor pasty. The huge portion tasted extremely creamy from either the addition of tons of butter or, perhaps, a cheese or some sort. Even though he was full, he forced himself to finish the mashers because they were so good.

I chose the Rum Marinated Chicken entrée, chicken breast rubbed with cumin then marinated in Sailor Jerry’s rum, served with pico de gallo, corn on the cob, and mashers. The chicken was moist, its flavor a lovely mix between spicy cumin and caramel sweet rum. I took half home since the portion was so big. My corn was just a touch tough but that was barely noticeable through the spicy cayenne pepper and cilantro flavor. The delicious mashers went surprisingly well with the spoonful of fresh pico de gallo included on the plate.

On Sunday, J and I shared a Spicy Grilled Cheese Sandwich, pepper jack cheese, avocado, red onions, and chipotle aioli on grilled sourdough bread and served with shoestring French fries. The sourdough was perfectly toasted, retaining just a bit of softness. The avocado added a cooling note to the creamy, peppery cheese and the spicy aioli. The fries were awesome as well, staying crispy and hot the entire time.

The Price:

Friday:

Long Island Iced Tea: 8.00

Ballard 75: 8.00

Avocado Fries: 6.00

Carne Asada: 15.00

Rum Marinated Chicken: 14.00

Sunday:

Long Island Iced Tea: 8.00

Jalapeno & Cucumber Margarita: 9.00

Avocado Fries: 4.00 (Happy Hour price)

PB&J Jalapeno Poppers: 3.00 (Happy Hour price)

Spicy Grilled Cheese: 5.00 (Happy Hour price)

The Verdict:

Considering J and I went back on Sunday, with friends in tow, our opinion of Shelter Lounge is overwhelmingly positive. Over the course of this project, we have had few meals that were, across the board, as good as both of the meals we had here. The drinks are great and well priced, including a Long Island Ice Tea that is one of the best in Ballard. The menu may be small but the quality and portion size is worth every reasonably priced penny. Creative touches, like the avocado fries, are deliciously well executed. Though it sounds like weekend evenings are hopping, the atmosphere during the day and early evening is genial and relaxed.

Shelter Lounge has been added to the list of our Ballard haunts. No question. We have been singing its praises to everyone who asks how the project is going. I will not be surprised if it ends up on the project’s top ten list at the end of the year.

Kiss Café – 8/24/11

Website

Location: 2817 NW Market St

Hours:

Mon-Thurs, Sun: 11-11

Fri-Sat: 11-12

J took the day off on Wednesday so we decided to do a rare lunchtime review at Kiss Café, a sandwich place at the west end of Market Street, in the same warehouse/strip mall as Portage Bay Café. It’s a small restaurant with a bar, some tall bar tables and a handful of regular tables. The most interesting thing about the restaurant is the monthly rotation of art on the walls that coincides with Ballard’s Second Saturday Art Walk . When we visited large, colorful pet portraits adorned the walls.

Kiss Café’s menu features sandwiches, wraps, salads and a few breakfast items. Their real specialty is a huge selection of microbrews. In fact, the first thing you see when you enter the café is two large coolers of bottled and canned beer.

The Service:

Kiss Café is a seat yourself place. Once J and I found a table, the friendly and knowledgeable server took our drink then food order quite quickly. Both of us commented on how fast our food came out once we had ordered.

The Drinks:

I had a glass of Fox Barrel Blackberry Pear Cider, which was crisp and tart.

J chose the Original Sin Hard Cider. His comment about it was “Passable” but he did like the tall, cold glass in which it was served.

A note about the water at Kiss Café. They place a slice of cucumber in the water carafes so the water tastes a little odd. Both of us thought the water was off until we realized it was just the faint taste of cucumber.

The Food:

I ordered the Famous Angus, roast beef, provolone, bleu cheese, lettuce, tomato, and green bell pepper on a toasted hoagie roll with Maui onion chips and house made dill pickles. The sandwich was so large that I ended up taking half home. The roast beef was tender. The veggies were fresh although I could have done without the sharpness of the green bell pepper. The flavor of the provolone was lost against the thick bleu cheese dressing. Overall it was an okay sandwich but not something I would order again.

The winner, though, was the house made dill pickles. The server brought us a jar of thick pickle chips with our sandwiches. These crisp, vinegary chunks of pickle were amazing. Fresh tasting and still looked like cucumbers. I had a very hard time not emptying the entire jar. As it was, I took some home with my leftover sandwich.

J chose the Fun Guy, a hot roast beef, provolone, and mushroom sandwich with au jus and potato chips. He felt the meat was a bit dry but the au jus helped with this problem. Overall, an okay sandwich but he’s had better.

The Price:

Fox Barrel Blackberry Pear Cider: 4.50

Original Sin Hard Cider: 4.50

Famous Angus: 10.50

The Fun Guy: 11.00

The Verdict:

Kiss Café was okay. Other than the good service and fabulous pickles, Kiss Cafe wasn’t that memorable. The food was merely okay. We’ve both had better sandwiches elsewhere in Seattle for a significantly lower price. I think that was part of my issue. The prices seemed really high compared with other sandwich places in Ballard.

J doesn’t think he’ll go back. He just felt there is no reason to. I, on the other hand, may go back someday for a beer and a jar of pickles because they were that good.

Café Mox – 6/12/11

Facebook Page.

Location: 5105 Leary Ave.

Hours:

Sun-Thurs: 10am – 10pm

Fri-Sat: 10am – 12am

Café Mox opened a couple of month’s ago in conjunction with Card Kingdom, Ballard’s new and only game store. Card Kingdom stocks every manner of game from role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, to card games to board games to puzzles. In Café Mox, the coffee/beer/wine bar attached to the main store, you’re allowed, if not outright encouraged, to have a seat, order a beer and play a game. In fact, Card Kingdom has a library of games for you to try out before purchasing. Café Mox is that rare type of bar where you’re far more likely to find Ghostbusters or The Fellowship of the Ring playing on the TV than some random sports event. Since their opening, during the evening the place is packed with people playing games to the point where they had to extend their hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

Since J not only works for a game company but also loves play various types of games, Café Mox has naturally become a regular haunt. I think we’ve gone at least one night a week since they opened. It’s basically become the Cheers for the gamer set in Ballard. They offer local microbrews, wine, cider and espresso drinks along with a small menu of appetizers, salads and sandwiches.

Lately on Sundays while I’m at the Ballard Farmer’s Market J goes down to Café Mox since he dislikes farmer’s markets in general. When I met him last Sunday, we had a couple of sandwiches while playing the World of Warcraft trading card game.

The Service:

Since Café Mox has only 10 or 11 tables, the servers act as baristas, bartenders as well as servers. At busy times this means the service might be a little slow. On the Sunday we were there, it was fairly slow so the service was pretty quick. Everyone who works there is very friendly.

The Drinks:

Normally I’ve been ordering Odin Brewing Company’s Freya’s Gold Kolsch, a nice light beer but on Sunday both J and I chose the Ace Cider Company’s Joker hard apple cider, a crisp dry cider.

The Food:

J chose the Tuna Melt, tuna with cucumber, roasted red peppers, olives, tomatoes and red onion topped with spinach and gruyere cheese. Instead of being a traditional sandwich, the tuna melt came as two sliders on herbed buns. He said it was very good.

I ordered their special sandwich, the Garibaldi (I like to think it’s named for Babylon 5’s chief of security, Michael Garibaldi), which has Genoa salami, pepperoni, prosciutto, roma tomatoes, banana peppers and pepper jack cheese on fresh foccacia bread. Delicious. The meats used were obviously of high quality with a greater depth of flavor than store bought deli meats. The banana peppers, a favorite of mine, added an unusual spicy compliment to the rest of the ingredients and the foccacia bread was far softer than most foccacia bread I’ve had. A great sandwich.

The Price:

Ace Cider: 2 @ 12.00

Tuna Melt: 5.50

Garibaldi: 6.50

The Verdict:

J made an interesting observation about Café Mox. When playing at home, most gamers do not eat and drink well. Mountain Dew, Cheetos and fast food are the usual choices. The owners of Café Mox know this. They’re gamers themselves. Yet they chose to offer a higher quality of food and beverages. The use quality ingredients like breads from the great local bakery, Macrina. The microbrews on tap rotate frequently. Even the items offered are more creative than typical gamer fare, including an appetizer of pineapple and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon. Café Mox could’ve gone the easy route with their menu but chose not to and they’re not afraid to change things if they’re not working out.

Café Mox is a neat little place. It’s a friendly, comfortable café where it’s easy to lose track of time. You can sit and nurse a drink while reading a fantasy novel or playing Magic with friends or while making fun of the cult movie on the TV or you can just sit there and hang out with your friends. You can even rent a private room to game while being able to order drinks and food from the Café.

Would we order food again? Yes, the food is pretty good and well priced. I’m curious to try some of the other items on the menu. Yeah, some of the beers can be a bit pricy but you just make those choices accordingly. For every slightly over-priced beer, there’s a reasonably priced alternative.

Will we go back to Café Mox? Of course we’ll go back. In fact, you’ll probably see us there.