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

Menu Ch-ch-ch-changes

At Brimmer & Heeltap, we love change. We embrace it. Change isn’t scary – it’s rad! For us, change means new menu items, beers we’ve never tried before, and the uncorking of unfamiliar wines. There are so many uncertainties that come with being inspired by the Pacific Northwest’s seasons and its whims that we think it’s best to just have fun with it. Here’s some ch-ch-ch-changes to our menu that you might not have had the chance to try just yet.

There are two words that best describe our current menu: creativity and comfort. Chef Mike Whisenhunt and the culinary team have been getting seriously creative with everything from the ingredients they’re using to the plating of our many delicious dishes. Not one to ever play it safe with his flavors, Chef Whisenhunt has been blowing our minds with recent additions to the menu.

Smoked ahi tuna with koji pimento broth, black sesame, and charred scallions. 

Smoked ahi tuna with koji pimento broth, black sesame, and charred scallions. 

The smoked ahi tuna served with koji pimento broth, black sesame, and charred scallions is a perfect example of this. Subtly smoky, and with deep flavors that play off of one another incredibly, this is easily one of our new favorites at the restaurant. We recommend kicking off your meal with this beautiful dish as a way to awaken your palate and ready yourself for more bold tastes to come.

Chef Whisenhunt's delicious lamb shoulder fried rice. 

Chef Whisenhunt's delicious lamb shoulder fried rice. 

Another phenomenal new menu item is the lamb shoulder fried rice. Rich and comforting, this play on a banh mi features warm spices, pickled chiles, carrots, daikon and mint. It’s everything you want to eat when it’s cold outside.

The kitchen isn’t the only place whipping up all kinds of new treats to get excited about. Our fantastic bar manager Brian Hibbard and the rest of our super talented bar team are embracing all kinds of new, unexpected ingredients to make drinks that will knock your socks off. The “Scandinavian Mustache” is a great example of this. Made with Krogstad Aquavit – a flavorful spirit mainly produced in Scandinavia – Cynar, lemon, egg whites, and lavender bitters, this cocktail offers a flavor profile that many of us were unfamiliar with (and instantly gushing over).

Brian prepares the Scandinavian Mustache, a phenomenal new cocktail on the list. 

Brian prepares the Scandinavian Mustache, a phenomenal new cocktail on the list. 

If you’re more into beer and wine than cocktails, our ever-changing offerings definitely won’t let you down. Brian has been doing his part to keep a rotating list of fantastic locally-made brews on tap, so if you love beer from Holy Mountain, Stoup, Avery, E9, Georgetown Brewing Co. and many other amazing local breweries, you will definitely not be disappointed.

We L-O-V-E beer at B&H! Come in soon to try something local and tasty!

We L-O-V-E beer at B&H! Come in soon to try something local and tasty!

Our wine list is also thoughtfully curated, and boasts a beautiful selection of old world wines and bottles from the Pacific Northwest. Proprietress Jen Doak is particularly excited about the 2014 Occhipinti SP68, a super-limited vintage produced by badass female winemaker Arianna Occhipinti. Bold and elegant, this bottle is just one of many that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with much of Chef Whisenhunt’s menu.

The 2014 Occhipinti SP68 is just one of many beautiful wines we're offering by the bottle right now. 

The 2014 Occhipinti SP68 is just one of many beautiful wines we're offering by the bottle right now. 

Another exciting addition to the beverage menu is our just-in-time-for-the-holidays homemade 5-month aged eggnog! Since the early summer months we’ve been excitedly awaiting the release of this seasonal treat, and now that it’s here, we’re all feeling a little more prepared for the cold, damp winter weather we’ve been awaiting. Supplies of this excellent batch are limited, so be sure to cozy up to the bar soon to try it for yourself!

Combine eggs, cream, milk, nutmeg, tequila, scotch, and sherry, wait five months, shake and serve on ice with bourbon and an orange twist and...voila! We give you our over-the-top delicious homemade aged eggnog.

Combine eggs, cream, milk, nutmeg, tequila, scotch, and sherry, wait five months, shake and serve on ice with bourbon and an orange twist and...voila! We give you our over-the-top delicious homemade aged eggnog.

This is just a small sampling of what’s new and exciting on the menu right now. Because our food and beverage offerings change often, what we’re serving now might not be here for long. So, come in soon to try something new! We promise that this change is a good one.

Blog Author: Caitlyn Edson

Images: Will Foster Photography

Embracing the Seasonal Shift: Fall Cocktail Edition

Brimmer & Heeltap Bar Manager Brian Hibbard muses on Autumn, nostalgia, and his brand new cocktail list. 

Brimmer & Heeltap Bar Manager Brian Hibbard muses on Autumn, nostalgia, and his brand new cocktail list. 

You know those times you feel memories being formed in an exact moment? Driving down the coast with your windows down, salty air blowing your hair around while you listen to dream-pop music (okay maybe that’s just one of my recurring fondest) becomes an imprint in your mind, and you feel it. Or the time you experience a newness in life: maybe a newborn, a new job, a new love, or a move that allows new breath and feelings you haven’t felt in the longest time prevail throughout your body. Or maybe it’s smaller: an inspiring conversation, a plate of food that you can’t stop thinking about, a reunion where your nearest and dearest are all in the same room with you.

Seasonal change offers these natural twists and turns; we can feel the vibrational shift and choose to embrace it. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it’s magic, sometimes it's energy that allows for us to create new ritual and new experiences. Fall is an important time for me. I was born and raised here in the Pacific Northwest, and Fall meant rain finally, post-season baseball, wearing layers, last minute camping trips, and foolish road trips to god knows where because hell we’re young and why not?

I recently put out a new cocktail menu to represent and embrace this seasonal shift. Part of the beauty is the we-ness of it all. We all have different tastes, interests, triggers of happiness, and the question remains: how can we create this tangibly in our food and drinks? A few weeks ago we sat around the bar and tasted through these new cocktails. Listening and observing my lovely crew’s reactions and feedback to these drinks is one of the many reasons why Brimmer & Heeltap is a special place. We all have a certain piece, an insight, a suggestion, a thought that makes up these recipes.

Cardamom, rosemary, lavender, sage, allspice, nutmeg, apple…these are all elements of the new menu. While not all of these are specifically Fall flavors and aromatics, for myself and the B&H team, these represent something that we love about the fall and carry a sort of nostalgia. It represents staying cozy, drinking boozy cider with friends, leaves changing color and falling, seasonal beer and planning Halloween costumes. Incorporating these flavors and smells, for example, means more to us than presenting something that is simply delicious. It’s presenting the opportunity for reflecting on good memories and creating new ones.

My mom has a quince tree in her yard, so I’ve been experiencing the delicious, unique flavor and recipes of quince for quite some time. Lucky me, Brimmer & Heeltap has two quince trees right out front that were full of this thick and intense fruit. You’ll find the Lucky Quince-idence on the menu featuring a homemade quince shrub from those trees along with some rye whiskey, white rum, elderflower, and bitters. Another one of my personal favorites 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.

There are many more fantastic new cocktails to try, so come hangout! Ask your kind and knowledgeable server or bartender to share their excitement about the menu with you and let’s choose to drink well and be cozy together. 

Blog Author: Brian Hibbard 

The Comfort Zone

Believe it or not, most of the Seattleites I know delight in the cool, drizzly weather that autumn so often brings. This time of year signifies warm libations, bundling up in sweaters and scarves, spending time in the great indoors, and of course, comfort food. The latter is something that we happen to know quite a lot about at Brimmer & Heeltap; “comforting” is one of the things that defines Chef Mike Whisenhunt’s unique style of cooking.

Our current menu offers an array of dishes that showcase bold flavors, employ familiar ingredients in an inventive way, and kind of just make you feel like you’re being held by your mama. The Yukon potato puree with bonito cream, chives, and a sprinkling of dancing bonito flakes warmed by the starchy layers below is a deliciously comforting fall-time dish. If you find yourself more comforted by carnivorous creations, you’ve got to try Chef Mike’s grilled pork shoulder. Smoky, succulent, and grilled to perfection, this menu mainstay is a favorite of Brimmer & Heeltap’s crew and regular guests alike. See below for Chef’s “mop” sauce recipe he uses to really bring this dish to life.

Personally, there are three things that comfort me most: chocolate, bread, and booze. Happily, these things often take center-stage at the restaurant, where I am lucky enough to have the chance to go wild on our famous bread, spiced chocolate cake, and bartender Brian Hibbard’s genius concoctions more often than I care to admit. With new seasonally-inspired wine and cocktail lists launching this week just in time for fall, an ever-changing dinner menu, and brunch offerings that leave guests feeling happy and satiated every weekend, fall looks really good on B&H.

Stay tuned for more information about seasonal menu changes, and remember that we’ve got a seat waiting the next time you’re in need of some seriously comforting food and libations.

Chef Mike’s Pork “Mop”

Ingredients:

300 grams (1 1/3 cups) water

1500 grams (6 1/2 cups) sugar

1500 grams (6 1/2 cups) sherry vinegar

250 grams (1 cup) Urfa Biber*

To make:

1.       Heat water to boiling and add sugar; boil until sugar is dissolved and begins to caramelize.

2.       Add sherry vinegar and boil until reduced by half.

3.       Add Urfa Biber to the reduction; stir until blended evenly.

4.       Apply “mop” generously with a basting brush to poultry, pork or beef before and after grilling.

*Urfa Biber, also known as isot pepper, is a dried Turkish chili pepper, cultivated in the Urfa region of Turkey. World Spice calls it a “luscious pepper flake” with an “earthy, smoky edge that hits at chocolate and tobacco.” You can purchase it at World Spice Merchants as well as other specialty spice shops.

Blog Author: Caitlyn Edson

Images: Will Foster Photography

Our Bread and Butter

It’s not unusual for dinner guests to walk into our open kitchen at the end of a meal, happy and full, to thank the culinary team for preparing such special plates of food for them. We love it when this happens, and when new patrons give us superlatives like, “Chef, that was the BEST bread I have ever tasted. No, I mean it - the BEST.” Mike Whisenhunt, Brimmer & Heeltap’s head chef, always smiles and thanks these guests before getting back to work; it never ceases to amaze him, or any of us really, how something as simple and familiar as bread can be such a powerful part of one’s dining experience.

One of the things that defines us as a restaurant is our refusal to take shortcuts. It would be really easy (and probably still tasty) to serve sliced, room-temperature bread and butter to our guests. But for our Chef and his team, opting for the easy route takes the fun out of it completely. Instead, we ask ourselves questions like How can we make something as comforting and delicious as bread taste even better?

The answer to this question is actually pretty simple. By using the best ingredients available to us and putting just as much love into the preparation of this fantastic snack as we do everything else, the bread we serve becomes an instant favorite of new guests and regular diners alike. If you’ve ever noshed on our bread – thick cut, buttered, toasted to order, and garnished with a sprinkling of salt and pepper – you know that it doesn’t really get any better than this. After Seattle Met’s Senior Writer Kathryn Robinson tried it for the first time, she wrote that “if it’s not the wickedest thing you’ve put in your mouth all day, then you’re living the dream.” We’ll cheers to that.

To prepare the bread for our guests, the culinary team first cuts a 1 ½-inch-thick slice from the Como loaves we source from Grand Central Bakery. Next, the slice is slathered with Plugra, a slow-churned, deliciously creamy European-style butter, before being placed under the broiler. The thick slice takes about ten minutes to toast. Once ready, the hot, crisp piece is dusted with fresh cracked black pepper and salt – finishing touches that help elevate this bread experience.

During brunch, guests are given not one, but three different ways to experience our bread: the classic buttered version, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, or slathered with our homemade peanut butter frosting and seasonal jam. Chef Mike gets this incredible glimmer in his eye whenever guests order his take on PB&J; he knows they are in for a serious treat.

To eat the bread, one must use a steak knife to cut into its thick, crispy crust. Doing so reveals the butter-soaked layers of soft bread underneath, warmed beautifully and seasoned to perfection. It’s a massive slice, so it really is best shared among friends.

At Brimmer & Heeltap, breaking bread both symbolically and literally embodies a ritual that is deeply important to us. We like the notion that sharing a meal with your dearest friends, or partner, or parent can start with a simple slice of bread and become something so much more significant than that. We like how comforting and transportive food can be. We’re thankful for the feedback we receive from our guests, and we’re proud that for some of them, our thoughtfully prepared bread is the most comforting, superlative-worthy thing they’ve tried in a while.

We can’t wait to break bread with you soon.

 

Author: Caitlyn Edson

Images: Will Foster Photography

A Neighborhood Place

At Brimmer & Heeltap, we adore our neighbors. Familiar faces fill our dining room throughout the year, including folks that used to frequent Le Gourmand and now see us as a new home away from home. We’re a place to gather and break bread, a community space, a comforting respite from the day-to-day - and we’re in great company. One of the things that informs so much of our identity as a restaurant is the neighborhood we’ve made home in. Ballard – West Woodland more specifically – is rich with small businesses that care deeply about their craft, and about being neighborly.

On our little corner of Northwest Market Street we’re a stone’s throw from Slate Coffee Roasters and Veraci Pizza, two fantastic locally-owned businesses that many of us frequent. Brunch-lovers from the Veraci team have come by for a meal before starting their workday, and we’re often the first place Slate’s incredibly talented baristas will stop by for a drink at their day’s end. We’ve even collaborated with Slate to create beautiful coffee-infused scotch, joining forces to make something truly special to enjoy after a meal at the restaurant. These folks are our patrons, but they’re also our friends.

We love collaborating with Slate (and drinking their delicious coffee!). Image via Facebook. 

We love collaborating with Slate (and drinking their delicious coffee!). Image via Facebook. 

Stoup's beautiful beer garden is an amazing neighborhood gathering place. Image via Facebook. 

Stoup's beautiful beer garden is an amazing neighborhood gathering place. Image via Facebook

If you wander just a few blocks west of Brimmer & Heeltap, you’ll begin to stumble upon an array of truly phenomenal breweries, many crafting beer that we serve nightly on our menu at the restaurant. Stoup Brewing, Reuben’s Brews, Maritime Pacific Brewing Co., and Populuxe Brewing are some of our very favorite breweries in Ballard, and all of them are within walking distance of the restaurant. Lucky us! Ballard now contains more breweries than any other neighborhood in Seattle, so it only makes sense that we would serve many of the same brews that our neighbors already cherish. Right now we’ve got a selection of beers on tap that are exclusively from our wonderful neighboring breweries.

Earlier this month, West Woodland, Ballard, an organization that seeks to “connect neighbors, raise awareness & build community in order to improve the quality of life for those who live, work, & play” in this unique pocket of Ballard, announced the winners of the inaugural Best of West Woodland Neighbor’s Choice Awards. Doing so not only helped shine a spotlight on the many terrific small businesses that thrive in the West Woodland neighborhood, but served as a reminder that there is truly a wealth of exceptional places to drink, dine, and gather in our area. We are honored to be named as West Woodland’s Best Restaurant in 2016; with neighbors like Stock, Café Bambino, the Ballard Food Bank, The Dray, Stoup Brewing, and many others making the Best Of list too, we’re prouder than ever to be part of this thriving neighborhood.

It’s always the people that make a restaurant such an exciting, vibrant place to work and gather, and we owe so much of our success to our neighbors that inspire us through their craft, and the guests that keep coming back for more. We’re part of a living, breathing local ecosystem here in West Woodland, and that’s just the way we like it.

Author: Caitlyn Edson

Images: Will Foster Photography, unless otherwise specified. 

Crew Spotlight: A Dynamic Duo

Phenomenally talented husband-wife duo Heather Padella Dziedzic and Dallas Dziedzic.

Phenomenally talented husband-wife duo Heather Padella Dziedzic and Dallas Dziedzic.

The hospitality industry attracts all kinds of intelligent, passionate, eccentric people. We’re artists, musicians, yoga instructors, parents, students and stylists that also happen to work in restaurants. At Brimmer & Heeltap, we’re proud to be a team comprised of professional and deeply multifaceted individuals, including Dallas Dziedzic and Heather Padella Dziedzic, a husband-wife duo that uses their incredible skillsets to elevate service in our kitchen and front of house, respectively.

Heather and Dallas, Midwest transplants that have lived in Seattle on and off since 2008, have both worked in the hospitality industry since they were kids in their hometown, a bustling summertime tourist destination on the coast of Lake Michigan. Dallas got his start in kitchens working as a dishwasher at a local bar, and Heather’s first industry gig was scooping ice cream at a candy store. Their first entries into the restaurant industry are a far cry from what these two do today; Dallas leads the kitchen as Brimmer & Heeltap’s Chef de Cuisine, and Heather provides excellent hospitality in the dining room as the restaurant’s Lead Server.

“One of my favorite parts of the industry is helping people discover something they didn’t know about,” says Heather, “also the team who you get to work with - it always brings people from all walks of life at all stages.” With extensive wine knowledge and time spent working at the celebrated Purple Café and Wine Bar here in Seattle and Gemini Bistro in Chicago, Heather’s attention to detail, powerful leadership, and gracefulness during service is a nod to her years of experience in acclaimed restaurants.

With years of experience cooking in professional kitchens at Chicago's The Pump Room and the W Hotel's now-closed Earth and Ocean, Dallas moves at a rapid pace during service, plating each dish with expert precision and care. His high energy level, passion for food, and creative approach to ingredients local to the Northwest make him a vital part of our team at the restaurant. Since he came on board in May, 2015, the kitchen has invigorated its approach to harnessing umami flavors, elevated its dessert offerings, and even launched a brand new brunch program. The techniques he uses coupled with his innovative approach to cuisine make him an invaluable member of the culinary team.

Outside of work, you’ll find Heather and Dallas spending time with family, getting inspired by local fare at Seattle’s many fantastic eateries, and sipping on white wine, cheap beer, and whiskey. These two also have plans to open their own restaurant one day, using their remarkable talents to create a place that offers truly delicious food and drinks in a relaxed environment. “I think our ultimate goal is to own a restaurant where we can work and raise a family and become part of a community,” says Heather.

We’re so glad to have Heather and Dallas as part of our community at Brimmer & Heeltap. Their enthusiasm for food and hospitality and wonderful personalities make them both fun and inspiring to work alongside every day.  

Be sure to say hello to these two on your next visit!

Author: Caitlyn Edson

Images: Will Foster Photography