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Compass Foods in a New Neighborhood {Bastille Café & Bar}

January 29, 2011

I haven’t spent much time in Ballard, but I love it there. I hate the rough patch Belltown is going though, but there is one small upside. B and I force ourselves outside our comfort zone and visit other neighborhoods (though we’re still Eastside resistant). We used to go to great lengths to avoid getting in the car. It just isn’t such a big deal anymore.

Thursday night we set out for our first ever dinner in Ballard at Bastille Café & Bar. Before the blog, we’d become a little lazy about sticking to the schedule. It was easier to choose an old favorite or shuffle the list around in favor of something that sounded good at the moment. Writing about our food adventures keeps us on track. The list is always growing and inspiration comes from a variety of sources. Friends give suggestions; local magazines and websites are good resources. Sometimes new additions come from a Twitter follow, but my favorite way to find new places is simply by walking down the street. Walking on Ballard Ave. Thursday night, we saw no less than four new places we want to try before long.

We arrived at Bastille without knowing what to expect and without any direction other than a bit of advice from B’s manager that we should visit the back bar after dinner. They are definitely true to the French bistro feel, managing somehow to be at once understated and oppulent, but I was most struck by the absence of color in the decor. The space is dominated by black, white, cream and lots of mirrors. The night’s specials are written directly on the mirrors.

B ordered the frites with truffle aioli almost instantly. A lot of people have compass foods. There is one food on a menu you order to help gauge what direction the meal will go. B and I have a couple compass foods. One is clam chowder, but most often (and assuming it’s an option), we choose the frites. Frites, french fries, shoestring potatoes, fried potatoes… whatever you want to call them.  Bastille’s frites set our meal off in exactly the right direction.

They were awesome and weren’t on the table for long. For dinner, B went with the steak frites. He’s nothing if not predictable when it comes to bistro and gastropub food. I chose the Cassoulet mostly because I’ve been on a white bean kick lately. We chose well. I’m not entirely convinced we could have chosen badly because everything we had at Bastille was outstanding!

And then there was dessert…

I have a serious sweet tooth. My meal is incomplete if I don’t have a sweet bite at the end. That said, it has to be the right something.  It usually involves chocolate. I would say our dessert at Bastille (Salted Peanut Butter Crème Glacée – Cocoa Nib Feuilletine & Jemara Crémaux) wasn’t so much “right” as it was perfect. I inadvertently banned all conversation from the table (I literally stopped talking mid-sentence) until after dessert was finished. The photo is terrible, but it was ah-maz-ing!

It may not look like much, but between the incredible salted peanut butter ice cream and the unbelieveable layers of feuilletine held together by more peanut butter goodness, it was worth a moment of silence.

After dinner we headed for the back bar. This turned out to be a good decision for more than one reason. In my infinite attention to detail, I took the restaurant copy of the charge slip (complete with tip, total and signature), folded it up and put it in my handbag with my credit card. Fortunately our server noticed us walking back to the bar so he was able to (very politely) retrieve the proper copy. I felt terrible that he had to come looking for us. Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve done this. I did it once a couple years ago at Black Bottle and had to return it to them the next day once I noticed.

The back bar of Bastille is beautiful. With huge mirrors, a massive chandalier and the same contrasting scheme of light and dark, it’s the kind of place you want to sit and stay awhile. It was already getting late, though, so we each had about half of our last drink before heading home. It’s ok. We’ll be back soon.

Bastille Café & Bar on Urbanspoon

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