July 4, 2009

Storming Ballard's Bastille


There's a Place Balard (one l) in southwest Paris, about 20 minutes from the Bastille, the one-time prison at the figurative center of the French Revolution. These days, the Place de la Bastille is a hub of music and nightlife, much like Seattle's Ballard Avenue on these warm July nights. At the brand new Bastille Café & Bar, a bustling crew of 60 tends to the needs of swarming drinkers and diners. Owners James Weimann (Peso's, Triangle) and Deming Maclise (Caffè Fiorè) recruited industry veterans Shannon Galusha (Veil) to run the kitchen, James Lechner (Café Campagne) to run the dining room and Armin Moloudzadeh (Black Bottle) to run the bar.

This isn't a review so much as a first look-around and a first drink (a frosty French 75). The space is vast and handsome, shiny white-tiled walls with dark wood accents in the front rooms, exposed brick and a grand chandelier in the back bar. There's also a large patio, where smokers were huddling furtively in the moonlight. As Obermaier Machine Works, the building spent half a century at the heart of Old Ballard's industrial district; it's been beautifully reworked as a grande brasserie. The long bar is molded zinc, just like in France; found objects from Parisian flea markets abound. The menu also takes its Frenchiness seriously, listing moules, frites, baguette sandwiches, soupe de poisson and salade niçoise.

There's also a wacky, self-congratulatory note of locavore political correctness at Bastille, with a rooftop garden (couldn't see it at midnight) growing herbs and salad greens for the $8 salade du toit. We'd guess, with the price of real estate and the cost of "urban farm" labor, that a more realistic price for that salad would be at least $2,500, but that's another story.

Bastille Café & Bar, 5307 Ballard Avenue, 206-453-5014    Bastille CafĂ© & Bar  on Urbanspoon

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Posted by Ronald Holden at July 4, 2009 10:30 AM | TrackBack

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