Since it’s opening about a month ago, we’ve been anxiously waiting a chance to dine at the new Ballard French hot-spot, Bastille. I like to give new restaurants some time to work out the kinks, and after a delicious dinner last night, it seems like they’ve hit their stride.
The space is right on Ballard ave, about a block from the center of Old Ballard. It’s a gorgeous spot with ample patio seating, and rich interiors adorned with dark wood, white subway tiles, amber-glowing lights, and a quite impressive 45-foot zinc-topped bar. All this plays together quite nicely with accent mirrors throughout to bounce the warm light and accentuate the high ceilings.
It was surprising to find the restaurant packed at 8:00 on a Monday night, but the hostess found us a table perfect for date night after just a few minutes wait. We started off with a carafe of red house wine and a baguette. Worth mentioning because the bread sprinkled with sea salt and served with Plugra butter. If you’ve never had this European style butter, it’s a treat – with more butterfat and less moisture that “normal” butter, it’s creamier and sweeter and spreads wonderfully. With the salty baguette, it took the requisite bread basket to a whole other level.
The menu is full of hearty, comfort foods with a French twist. After (a whole lot of) deliberation, we ended up going with familiar classics – a bowl of French onion soup; the steak sandwich with arugula, aioli, onion and gruyere; and the roast chicken, prepared confit in duck fat. Everything was delicious, fresh, and well seasoned, and there were no leftovers (always a good sign).
Everyone has their own spin on roast chicken. The server mentioned that they use a local farm for all their chickens, and the chef works with the farmer to produce birds just to his liking. This chicken was delicious, with a rich, crunchy skin. The meat was moist and chicken-y. So absurd to mention that, but so many chicken breasts don’t really taste like much of anything.
The sandwich and soup were both rich and robust as well. The soup had a sweet taste of sherry and onions that had been undoubtedly simmering for hours. The sandwich came with some fantastic frites.
Service continued the French experience, with an attentive yet inconspicuous server who let us enjoy the meal at our own pace. Couples lingered at intimate tables and enjoyed wine (and judging by the servers passing our table, a whole lot of profiteroles!). Bastille is a step out of Seattle into a European sanctuary, where the food enhances your time together with your party. And for me, that’s the sign of a great restaurant – it’s the experience of gathering with family and friends that hospitality is really all about.
Have you been to Bastille yet? Any other favorite French spots in Seattle? I’ll definitely be back – hopefully to sample one of their salads (they grow all their own greens and herbs in their rooftop garden), and perhaps the mussels in champagne, leeks and thyme, or the seared Quillicum scallops with cauliflower puree and beets marinated in Banyuls vinegar.
5307 Ballard Ave NW, Ballard, Seattle
Open: Seven Days: 5:30 PM to 10:00 or 11:00 PM for dinner, back bar 4:30 PM to 2:00 AM
Brunch: Sundays 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Reservations may be placed online