What's Shakin' Bacon?

Mmmmm...bacon! | Photo by Will Foster

Mmmmm...bacon! | Photo by Will Foster

It's hard to believe that it's been an entire year since we started serving brunch to our wonderful Ballard community. Time flies when you're having fun (and noshing on amazing food), right? We've made so many new friends this year; from families with hungry little ones to folks who normally work nights but trek over on weekend mornings for a delicious meal, we've delighted in getting to know all of our new regulars. 

A lot has changed since we first opened our doors for brunch. (Goodbye oxtail soup and hello ramen loco moco!) Our current menu features glorious, homemade slabs of bacon and pork loin, French toast with tart cherries and luscious lemon curd, and homemade ricotta accompanied by grilled bread and seasonal fruit. We're also happily serving menu favorites like Chef's hot puffed black rice with mango and warm, sweet coconut milk, and the b-e-s-t Belgian waffles you've ever tasted. That's right, we said it! 

We've got a special family-style menu that we offer to large groups of people to encourage breaking bread with the ones you love. This menu features larger, shareable plates of waffles, beautiful ricotta and fruit, scrambled eggs with fresh herbs and cheese, and other delicious offerings. 

We're always enthusiastically slinging classic brunch cocktails as well as inventive and fresh tiki-inspired drinks. Our brunch bartender Kyle also creates a daily cocktail special intended to pair perfectly with your meal. Make sure to ask your server about the special cocktail of the day, or better yet, pull up a seat at the bar and nerd out on spirits with Kyle. 

If it's been a little while since you've been in to dine with us for brunch, chances are there are many new menu items to try on your next visit! Tart and sweet berries, stone fruit, deliciously juicy heirloom tomatoes, lovingly-prepared pork loin, creamy mascarpone grits, and a garden's worth of beautifully fresh herbs are all having a moment on our ever-changing, seasonally-inspired brunch menu. Even our cocktail program has experienced a springtime revamp, with more than your average mimosa or Bloody Mary to accompany your rich, hearty breakfast.

Come in soon to grab a seat on the patio and start your weekend morning off with delicious food, genuinely friendly service, and a gorgeous setting. 

Author: Caitlyn Edson

Images: Jazzlyn Stone  & Will Foster

 

Green is the Word

“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.” – Harriet Ann Jacobs

It never ceases to amaze us just how spectacularly green Seattle is this time of year. I guess that’s one of the upsides of living in such a rainy place. The garden at the restaurant is overflowing with an abundance of dreamy, cascading flora; it seems as if something new blossoms each day. Our West Woodland neighborhood looks lush and renewed, and more and more of our neighbors cruise by us on their bicycles and with many a happy dog in tow.  

We love this magical time of year and the bounty of fresh ingredients it brings to us to experiment with and taste. Once again our menu mirrors the emerald-hued city just beyond our front door, a thing we’ve come to love about the emergence of spring. Fresh herbs, along with foraged and found goodies from Washington’s literal backyard and our own garden, have truly brought our seasonally-inspired menu to life. As American author Harriet Ann Jacobs observes, we are indeed beginning to feel revived after such a long winter.

Creamed nettles with miso, glass noodles, and green garlic. 

Creamed nettles with miso, glass noodles, and green garlic. 

Our spring salad features fiddlehead ferns, peas, pickled ramps, mustard seeds, and opal basil, among other green goodies. 

Our spring salad features fiddlehead ferns, peas, pickled ramps, mustard seeds, and opal basil, among other green goodies. 

It makes us so happy when the dishes we serve are able to surprise our guests in some way. Many people don’t know that nettles, which have a somewhat short season here in Washington, are actually edible and not just pesky, prickly wild greens. Similarly, the gorgeous fiddlehead ferns we’ve been adding to our daily-changing spring salad have brought many a smile to the faces of people who never considered noshing on these tasty plants.

Our delicious prawn salad. 

Our delicious prawn salad. 

Our prawn salad, prepared with herb oil, pickled chiles, pistachios, and green Szechuan peppercorn, is one of our menu standouts right now. This dish is unbelievably fresh, bright, and contains a multitude of textures that absolutely sing when enjoyed together.

Perhaps one of the things that makes springtime so beloved is the fact that it’s a fleeting time. Ingredients like our foraged nettles, ramps, and fiddleheads won’t be around for too much longer; come in soon and let them revive you.

Author: Caitlyn Edson

Images: Will Foster Photography

A Season of Fresh Flavors and Tiki Concoctions at Brimmer & Heeltap

If April brought us rain showers (and Seattleites can all attest that it did), here’s to hoping the rest of May brings all kinds of colorful flora, sunshine, and patio season vibes. We’re all restless for nights spent out in the garden and around the fire pit; we look forward to sharing many of these with you in the coming months. Read on for a little peek at how we’ve been gearing up for the wondrous spring and summer months ahead.

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At B&H, there’s a level of playfulness in everything we do. We have a lot of fun concocting new drinks and testing ingredients for new dishes that our guests get to experience, after all. Our talented bar team is definitely embracing a lighthearted approach to building drinks right now; Kate and Brian have been hard at work concocting tiki-inspired cocktails for our brunch guests.

B&H Bar Manager Brian Hibbard predicts that 2017 will be a year where we see more tropical drinks in general, predicting that “more rum, more tiki, more pineapple, and more drinks that make you start empathizing with those who wear Tommy Bahama” will be on trend in the coming months. Bartender Kate Mcmahon happily agrees, explaining that she was first drawn to tropical flavors as a way to escape Seattle’s drizzly winter vibes. “I think it was me trying to escape winter somehow and imagining myself on a tropical beach somewhere, anywhere, sipping island booze and feeling so relaxed – and wanting others to feel that way,” she says.

The next time you come in for brunch be sure to try Ape of My Eye, a riff on a tiki classic made with rum, banana liqueur, cinnamon, and fire.

In the kitchen, spring flavors have taken hold and many dishes boast beautiful, delicious ingredients native to the Pacific Northwest. Our spring salad changes nearly every week depending on what foraged goodies Foraged and Found brings to us. Nettles, maple blossoms, miners lettuce, peas, opal basil, fiddlehead ferns, and other wild greens are making Chef’s seasonally-inspired dishes sing right now.

Chef’s spicy beef rib features a fantastic homemade bbq sauce, falling-off-the-bone-tender meat, and a bright and satisfying accompaniment of kale slaw with pickled cipollini onions. The culinary team brines these beautiful Painted Hills beef ribs for twelve hours, slow cooks them lovingly for about 8 more hours, before finishing this beautiful piece of meat on the grill. You have to be willing to get just a little bit messy when sharing this dish with friends and family. It’s bbq done the B&H way, with tons of flavor and care.

Although our food offerings change constantly, Chef Mike vowed long ago to keep his beloved steak tartare on as a menu mainstay. We’re happy to share that this already delicious snack has been elevated further with help from some seriously creative culinary efforts. The steak tartare you know and love is now topped with grated egg yolk that has been soy-cured and dehydrated, adding layers of umami flavor to this excellent dish.

Freshness is paramount during springtime in Seattle kitchens, and ours has so many gorgeous seasonal offerings for you to delight in. Tapioca puff chips dusted with a blend of dehydrated nettles, poblano peppers, carrot tops and garlic bring a zesty, crave-worthy edge to our snack list. Asian pear, beets, marinated root vegetables, and huckleberries are incorporated lovingly into many a dish. Come in soon to taste something new and unexpected!

It’s our sincere pleasure to serve you no matter what the season, but we can all agree that B&H feels extra magical this time of year. We look so forward to your next visit.

Author: Caitlyn Edson

Images: Will Foster

 

 

Brimmer & Heeltap Q & A with Bar Manager Brian Hibbard

Brian Hibbard is Brimmer & Heeltap’s beloved Bar Manager. Funny, sweet, and ever-considerate, Brian brings a level of sincerity and warmth to our team that keeps regulars coming back time and again to sit at his bar. A Pacific Northwest native, he loves all things outdoors, making music, and is our resident Twin Peaks aficionado. Read on to learn more about his thoughts about bar industry trends, run-ins with local celebrities, and what inspired recent additions to our craft cocktail list.

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What spirits and ingredients have you been most drawn to when crafting special cocktails lately?

BH: I love amaro; it was the category of booze that attached me to mixology. When a new (or new to me) amaro presents itself, I often use it in all experimentation to figure out how to use it best. Sfumato Rabarbaro, a smoky rhubarb amaro from the Italian Cappelletti family, is a perfect example. It was released in the US last year and, to no surprise, gained popularity quick and you can now find it almost everywhere. It’s smoky, earthy, with some notes of bitter berries and a lingering note of gentian on the finish. It’s a great sipper for the brave, or an essential amaro for the bitter cocktail explorer.

As far as ingredients go, I’m playing around with fresh juices, beet and carrot specifically, to add a fresh and somewhat healthy approach to drinking. I’m working with Chef Mike and our excellent sauté cook Ike on some delicious sodas for the Summer.

What is your go-to cocktail to make when you’re trying to impress someone?

BH: Some sort of riff on a Trinidad Sour, the genius who came up with using an unhealthy amount of Angostura bitters has changed every bartender's life. Seattleites seem to love it when you bust out some seasonal herbs, bonus points if you have them growing in the garden outside. Also fire.

What do you like to drink when you’re not working?

BH: A Negroni made with Punt e Mes is my number one dinner companion, lower ABV sour beer like a Berliner Weisse or Gose during the Summertime, or a Rainier tallboy with a mid-shelf rye whiskey for all occasions. And at home I drink Pamplemousse La Croix like every good hipster should.

What’s been one of your proudest moments as a bartender?

BH: Serving Ben Gibbard on many occasions in multiple restaurants without losing my cool and shouting that he’s my musical icon while pointing out that our last names are almost the same.

What's your favorite cocktail on our list currently? How did you come up with the concept for it?

BH: The Red Lodge is brand new to our list. It’s a mixture of Overproof Rye Whiskey, Campari, Amaro Meletti, Dry Vermouth, Peychaud’s Bitters, and Absinthe. It’s perfect, I think, for springtime. It’s a great sipper that calms more as it dilutes and still has some beautiful bitter qualities. We had a similar cocktail on the menu called Our New Pal, which was a play on a New Pal, which is a play on an Old Pal, so I thought I’d get out of the Pal naming and add my own twist.

As for the name origin, I’m a Twin Peaks believer and this is our nod to its greatness and forthcoming sequel season.

As someone who works closely with food/drinks/people what are you most inspired by?

BH: The kindness of strangers/acquaintances/friends. There’s a lot of shit going on in our world right now, and while it’s perfectly understandable to walk around with a cloud over our heads or to have little amounts of good to say, or to be skeptical of the future, those who trade all of that for public kindness, warmth and approachability, thank you. This is who I strive to be and why I do what I do. This attitude plays into every aspect of bartending, including celebrating with guests about the weekend, coming up with custom cocktails on the fly for the enthusiastic patron, or trying to think of a witty cocktail name to make someone chuckle and get beer to come out of their nose.

What cocktail or beer trends do you think we’ll be seeing more of in the coming months?

BH: More Rum, more tiki, more pineapple, more drinks that make you start empathizing with those who wear Tommy Bahama.

Our Best-Kept Secret

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The main and adjoining building that Brimmer & Heeltap occupies have a beautiful history that our team cherishes. And, if you’ve never dined in our detached garden studio then you have got to put doing so at the top of your summer to-do list. When Brimmer & Heeltap proprietress Jen Doak first laid eyes on the one-hundred-year-old 400 square foot structure sitting just behind the restaurant, she saw much more than an old, dusty dry storage space. She saw wedding ceremonies and family gatherings. She envisioned an open-air space where the restaurant’s neighbors could flock to in the summertime. She pictured a fire pit where her team could gather after a long night to share beers and laughs under the moonlight.

In spring 2015, after months of renovations, Brimmer & Heeltap eagerly welcomed guests to its expanded three-part garden patio and newly polished private studio. In the years since, the restaurant has hosted dozens and dozens of special events in this space; from birthday celebrations to holiday parties and everything in between, the garden studio has served as a year-round backdrop to gorgeous gatherings. During the summer, when it’s not being used for winemaker dinners, wedding receptions, and private brunches, the B&H team opens the garage door to the studio, creating a dreamy, open-air patio experience. There’s nothing we love more than serving our guests in this part of the restaurant on a warm summer evening.

Now that a few summers have gone by it’s amazing to think that this space wasn’t available to dine in until fairly recently. Brimmer & Heeltap’s garden patio and studio have been listed as among the best in Seattle; it’s a well-kept secret that is made all the more beautiful by its various thoughtful design features and Jen’s incredible green thumb. Marian Built and Sean Sifagaloa of KRFTWRK helped bring this space to life by lending their respective craftsmanship and keen eye for design to the process of turning the previously unused dry storage shed into a place where people could happily eat and imbibe. Local ceramics artist Larry Halvorsen has been equally instrumental in helping transform this garden oasis with his gorgeous sculptures.

Of course, the most cherished part of our garden patio is all of the neighbors, friends, and regular guests who fill this space every spring and summer and have just as much love for it as we do. It is our sincere pleasure to serve you, especially when it’s al fresco in the garden.

As the weather forecast continues to tease us with the promise of sunshine and warmer weather, we’re excitedly gearing up for our third summer of outdoor dining in the garden and studio. We look so forward to sharing patio season with you.

Author: Caitlyn Edson

Images: Will Foster

Brimmer & Heeltap Team Member Q&A with Bartender Kate Mcmahon

Kate Mcmahon has been on the Brimmer & Heeltap team as a bartender and server since last spring. Originally from New England, Kate loves the beautiful Pacific Northwest and stays active outdoors with friends and her pup Maggie. She’s also very fond of drinking beers at local breweries and honing her tiki drink-making skills behind the bar. She’s got a knack for soccer, knowing where to find all of the best dive bars, and making genuine connections with her guests. Always laughing and up for an adventure, Kate is a wonderfully kind, big-hearted, and talented member of the Brimmer & Heeltap team. You can learn a little bit more about her in this Q&A.

What is your go-to cocktail to make when you’re trying to impress someone?

KM: Hmm…When I want to impress a bar patron, I usually just pour a good whiskey…but with LOTS of flair.

What spirits and ingredients have you been most drawn to when crafting special cocktails lately?

KM: We've been into making our own ingredients for the bar from shrubbery to Worcestershire sauce for bloodies to Cynar falernum. Hopefully guests appreciate all of the thought and effort that goes into that. If that doesn't do it, I resort to lighting things on fire. 

What is your favorite part about making tiki drinks? How did you first get into/inspired by tiki-style drinks?

KM: Tiki drinks?! I don't like tiki drinks, who told you that?! I think it was me trying to escape winter somehow and imagining myself on a tropical beach somewhere, anywhere, sipping island booze and feeling so relaxed - and wanting others to feel that way when they drink tiki vibes. That's why tiki bars were first invented, to transcend. It's better than nothing, right?

Where are some of your favorite watering holes around Seattle?

KM: Grizzled Wizard in Wallingford, Pacific Inn in Fremont, Duck Island Ale House in Green Lake, Essex (is that still Ballard?) and the Independent Beer Bar in....Everett. 

What differences have you noticed about Seattle vs. Boston bar culture?

KM: Boston drinks more! I don't think Boston is really into Duck Farts (I think they originated in Alaska and didn't catch on out there) or Touchdowns - cocktails that is. Millennials really seem to like Touchdowns, and Trash Cans. Kill me. 

Kate also says that “It's inspiring how many breweries and distilleries exist these days...obviously if they're putting out good product, the more local the better…get it while you can before Trump reinstates prohibition.”

Be sure to say hi to Kate on your next visit to the restaurant. Better yet, ask her to make you a tiki drink!

On Finding Refuge in a Restaurant

Friends and neighbors, this is no ordinary winter. Our social media feeds and newspaper headlines continue to lend themselves to a palpable sense of futility that seems to hang around us like this season’s relentless chill. Despite how cozy and warm and protected we feel on our quiet corner in Ballard, even we can admit that the last few weeks have felt a little bit heavy – to say the least.

Many of you, and a good number of us, have spent the better part of this month and last marching, organizing, and raising our voices to various instances of injustice and oppression. The Womxn’s March. Standing Rock. The Muslim Ban. Myriad troubling Executive Orders. All of these things and more have been resting heavily in our hearts and minds; we know they’ve been on your mind too.

The Brimmer & Heeltap brunch crew holding it down at the restaurant during the Womxn's March last month. 

The Brimmer & Heeltap brunch crew holding it down at the restaurant during the Womxn's March last month. 

We’re reminded, now more than ever, that a restaurant can provide a much-needed sense of whimsy and comfort when the “real world” just beyond our front door feels anything but. With the sip of a cocktail, the first bite of a delicious plate of food, a friendly greeting from a server you’ve come to know by name - all of the world’s troubles seem to dissolve, if only for that fleeting moment. We are so glad to offer our space as a refuge to you when you are feeling frustrated, angry, or sad. Since the very first day Brimmer & Heeltap opened we have aspired to be the kind of place that you look forward to escaping to at day’s end, a place you can stop in to and always feel welcomed and comforted.

We can't wait to share Chef's latest creations with you. 

We can't wait to share Chef's latest creations with you. 

To that end, we are looking to springtime and the beautiful sense of renewal it evokes for inspiration at the restaurant these days. Chef Mike Whisenhunt is playing with fresh, vibrant flavors in the kitchen; you should see the way his eyes light up when he talks about nettle season! Proprietress Jen Doak happily arranged fresh flowers – the first of the season – throughout the dining room earlier this month, marking a dreamy transition to the warmer, sunnier days that lie ahead. Our wonderful bar manager Brian Hibbard is playing with flavors that are bright and playful; the Salt Bae is a new-to-the-list cocktail made with bourbon, mescal, Genepy des Alpes, apple shrub and salt that sings on the palate. Brimmer & Heeltap's exceptional lead server Heather Padella Dziedzic is helping our team select thoughtful wines to complement the changing menu, many of which are new to our list.

We can't get enough of the drinks bartender Brian Hibbard has been concocting lately! 

We can't get enough of the drinks bartender Brian Hibbard has been concocting lately! 

Brimmer & Heeltap lead server Heather Padella Dziedzic provides exceptional hospitality and guidance to our team.

Brimmer & Heeltap lead server Heather Padella Dziedzic provides exceptional hospitality and guidance to our team.

We have delighted in your visits to the restaurant during this strange, dark season. Serving you – our neighbors and friends – and offering our space as a safe haven is our sincerest pleasure; it cannot be overstated that a huge part of why we love what we do is because of the exceptional people we get to interact with so intimately and so often. We look forward to sharing more flavors, libations, laughs and warm embraces with you soon.

Blog Author: Caitlyn Edson

Images: Will Foster Photography 

How A “Menu Artist” is Helping Us Give Back this Year

Photo credit: Will Foster 

Photo credit: Will Foster 

On your next visit to the restaurant you might notice a series of framed prints hanging in our bright entryway. The prints, which instantly evoke feelings of warmth and being comforted by a meal shared with dear friends, are part of an annual tradition at Brimmer & Heeltap – one that combines our collective commitment to doing right by our community with food and art.

From the very first day the restaurant opened, proprietress Jen Doak has been dedicated to not only feeding our community, but also bringing people together, raising awareness about vital charity work being done on a local level, and raising funds for Seattle-based nonprofit organizations.

Each year in honor of the restaurant’s anniversary, Jen works with a local artist to design a commemorative print that is available for purchase. The inaugural print was designed by local artist Mike Klay, with proceeds benefitting the Ballard Food Bank. Last year, friend and neighbor Kristen Winn designed a beautiful print that benefitted Big Table. This year, net proceeds from print sales will go towards Arts Corps, a local organization that is committed to providing access to the arts and art education to underserved youths.

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We are thrilled to have partnered with Patrick Nguyen (aka Dozfy), a talented Seattle-based artist whose preferred medium is pen and ink on menus, to make this year’s print come to life. “I love how an abstract form of meat and vegetables is manipulated from its original source,” says the artist of what inspires his work. “Extending from the visual aspect, the smell and taste takes the audience on another journey derived from the life experiences. This is exactly what I want my art to do.”

The Brimmer & Heeltap team first connected with Dozfy during one of his visits to the restaurant. While enjoying dinner with his wife, the artist completely transformed one of our menus in his signature style. Since that night we’ve been huge fans of his creative food-inspired artwork; we couldn’t think of a better artist to help us create a print to commemorate another year in business.

In addition to creating the 2017 commemorative print for the restaurant, Dozfy will also be participating in an event we’re hosting to benefit Arts Corp next month. A reservation to this event will ensure you delicious food and drinks, a live performance by one of Arts Corps’ student artists, a meet and greet with Arts Corps new Executive Director James Miles, and a custom piece hand-painted by Dozfy. Save the date: Thursday, February 9th for this fantastic (and tasty!) opportunity to support Arts Corp, or better yet, RSVP today by emailing jen@brimmerandheeltap.com.

You can keep up with Dozfy’s work by following him on Instagram. We love displaying these beautiful prints at the restaurant, so be sure to ask us all about them on your next visit!

Blog author: Caitlyn Edson 

Vendor Spotlight: Steven Smith Teamaker

Photo credit: Will Foster Photography. 

Photo credit: Will Foster Photography. 

It should come as no surprise that we’re really into details. We obsess over the finer parts of service and food preparation because we know that doing so is one of the things that makes coming in to dine with us such a positive, welcoming experience. From the way we arrange our table settings, to the ingredients we use in every cocktail or dish, to the vendors and farmers we work with – these details matter to us, and they speak to what we’re all about.

With this in mind, we want to shine a spotlight on one of our beloved vendors: Smith Teamaker. Based in Portland, Oregon, the artisan tea company was founded in 2009 by talented husband and wife duo Steven and Kim Smith. “The Smith name has grown to stand for uncommon quality, taste, and innovation in the Super Premium tea category,” the company explains, a nod to the decades of experience Steven Smith gained while succeeding in starting acclaimed tea companies Stash and Tazo.

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Smith, who passed away in 2015 due to complications of liver cancer, made a tremendous mark not only on Portland’s tea scene but on a global level during his lifetime. As journalist Molly Harbarger writes, “Smith co-founded two of the most important tea companies in the U.S., and a third namesake brand that is doing some of the most exciting experimentation with tea in the world.” The Oregonian contributor Richard Read echoes her sentiment, writing, “A quietly charismatic and humorous man, Smith took creative and financial risks to help make tea to Portland what coffee is to Seattle…. He reinvented tea much as Starbucks revolutionized coffee, Oregon craft brewers transformed beer and Northwest vintners refined wine.”

Read also points out that “Smith’s success inspired dozens of other high-end tea start-ups, elevating consumer standards and expectations. His palate was so refined, having sampled hundreds of thousands of varieties, that Portland entrepreneur Steve Lee considered him to be one of the world’s top tea tasters. At one sip, Smith could tell which part of the world a tea came from and often which plantation had produced it.”

Today, Steven Smith’s legacy lives on at Smith Teamaker, a company that prides itself on being innovative and unconventional, as well as philanthropic. “As an American tea company devoted to uncommon good taste in your cup, we source the finest teas and botanicals from friends in India, China, Sri Lanka, and Africa. In most cases, these are growers, exporters, and tea brokers we’ve worked with for over 15 years,” the company explains. “Every blend begins with a moment of inspiration – maybe a nicely aged cask of merlot, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream – that is then perfected with decades of experience and a fine feeling for flavors and fragrance.”

We absolutely love Smith's Lord Bergamot blend. | Image via Steven Smith Teamaker 

We absolutely love Smith's Lord Bergamot blend. | Image via Steven Smith Teamaker 

At Brimmer & Heeltap, we’re incredibly inspired by Steven and Kim Smith’s passion for tea and the attention to detail that Kim continues to employ in their business. We love serving their bold, delicious teas; The Lord Bergamot blend that we carry has been a particularly beautiful addition to the menu. Described by Smith as having “a flavor somewhat superior to traditional Earl Grey,” this offering is made with select teas from India’s Assam valley and scented with bergamot flavors from the Reggio Calabria region in Italy. Our current menu also contains their Brahmin, Mao Feng Shui, Jasmin Silver Tip, Peppermint, and Big Hibiscus flavors – teas that we enjoy drinking just as much as our guests do.

For more information about this exceptional teamaker, visit Smith Teamaker online. And, be sure to stop in soon for brunch or dinner to try a cup of Smith tea for yourself.

Blog author: Caitlyn Edson

That's a Wrap Baby!

Did you know that the word nostalgia is a compound of two Greek words nóstos & álgos, referring to homecoming and ache?  Now that 2016 is behind us, we’re experiencing a little homesickness and relief for another year gone by.

At B&H we take comfort in the events of our past, the personal ties and threads connecting them at this little corner of Ballard. Smell and touch happen to be key factors of evoking such emotions so it’s no wonder we are warm and fuzzy with a pinch of melancholy just thinking about 2016.  Nostalgia for the last year, or three, helps carbonate my personal and professional life in way that provides texture, connection, and gives me inspiration to keep moving forward.

A New York Times article a few years back states “nostalgia has been shown to counteract loneliness, boredom, and anxiety. It makes people more generous to strangers and more tolerant of outsiders.”

In an industry that breeds newness and change, our memories are among some of the gatekeepers to our development and evolution.

Can our past predict our future? Some dear friends are investors with a team of us that own the real estate the restaurant sits on. One night Ryan and his family came in for dinner and introduced the restaurant to his mom & dad. Within earshot, his mom said “you know your great grandfather owned a grocery store somewhere in Ballard.” Instantly I got chills knowing that somewhere in the history of our building was a grocery store. What were the chances, that unbeknownst to Ryan, he bought into the real estate that once belonged to his family?

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As it turns out, the nostalgia must have been flowing pretty good to have his mom say something and was able to dig up this amazing relic. Ryan’s great grandfather George Leu is the one pictured in front of the very door you walk through on any given day or night and we are reminded of how powerfully connected our past and present can be.

One of the biggest developments for the year was the spring arrival of brunch. Adding mornings to our routine meant seeing the space in a new light, welcoming more families to dine, expanding our amazing crew, and letting Mike’s expression of flavors explore different ingredients. One of my favorite dishes from the year happens to be on the brunch menu and has been receiving praise and adoration ever since our launch.

Hot puffed black rice with fresh mango, and warm sweet coconut milk

Hot puffed black rice with fresh mango, and warm sweet coconut milk

At the height of summer, bartender Nick Baralow and I embarked on the fantasy of aged eggnog. A crazy idea to mix alcohol, sugar, eggs, cream, and spices 5 months before we were to drink it. Would this be genius or devastating? Only time would tell. We didn’t know what to expect as this was our maiden batch. How small? How large? Would anyone like it?

Lessons learned: You loved it. Make more!

As summer turned into fall, Brian Hibbard joined the restaurant as our new bar manager. He was far and away the obvious choice because of his genuine care for fostering relationships and his innate ability to pair cocktails with Chef’s menu of bold flavors.

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One of my personal favorites of his, is the Market Drop Kick. Combining Brandy, Ramazzotti, Campari and Curacao, this is a big drink - hence Drop Kick - that lingers in a way that will bring up several different flavors while you enjoy it. Allspice hits your nose right from the get go, and serving the cocktail over a large ice cube allows the flavors to meld and come through more and more as the ice slowly melts.

Our recognition in the media has been significant this year and I couldn’t be more proud of our team. We were super excited to discover that we made Food & Wine’s “Best Bars in America”!  We also made appearances in Seattle Weekly’s “Favorite Restaurants”, Seattle Met’s “Seattle’s Very Best 100 Restaurants”, Eater Seattle’s Top 38 Restaurants, and multiple mentions in other publications including Seattle Magazine.

Media backing or not, you are the reason we are still here and striving for greatness every day. This coming January 15th we will officially celebrate our third year and you. We will have a special throwback menu with some of our favorite dishes. It’s really insane to think about growing up but I hear that part is optional. The growing older part is mandatory.

Each year we work to support the community through the creation and sale of limited edition commemorative anniversary prints, signed by the artists, to benefit a local charity. We are dedicated to raising awareness about vital work being done on a local level, and raising funds for Seattle-based nonprofits.

This year we teamed up with Patrick Nguyen or artist name Dozfy. One night he was in having dinner with his wife and simultaneously drawing/painting on the menus. The entire team was blown away and soon discovered that his m.o. is going to restaurants and leaving behind this incredibly beautiful souvenir. You can find him on Instagram by his artist name and see for yourself or check out his poster design below.

In his own words, he states that “I make art. I am obsessed with single images. These images are meant for the audience to input their own feelings, own thoughts, or own memories. … My Current Inspiration is food. I love how an abstract form of meat and vegetables is manipulated from its original source. Extending from the visual aspect, the smell and taste takes the audience on another journey derived from the life experiences. This is exactly what I want my art to do hence I dissect the eating experience.”

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Net proceeds for this year's poster benefit Arts Corps, a local arts education organization that is dedicated to developing creative habits of mind in young people with hands-on art classes in areas with little or no access, and predominantly children in low income communities of color. In 2012 Arts Corps was awarded the highest national honor by the White House, The National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award.

As we forecast and navigate the year ahead, I am comforted by the thought of seeing Sylvia, the crossing guard to Market Street on school days. The flock of kids that grow up before our very eyes. The details you share about your lives when you come in for a visit. The dogs that collect each night at our front door for their snack (Thanks Blue Dog Bakery). And the countless hugs we received from you and first time guests. You're a special bunch and I am honored that we have a place people can gather.

In loving gratitude, 

Jen