Bastille Cafe & Bar

Written by on September 4, 2010 in I Eat Seattle, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Ballard
How I heard of this place: A friend recommended Bastille to me about a year ago, and it was not until I saw it last week that I really felt the desire to sample its cuisine. I was meeting a friend at her office for a lunch break and walked past Bastille. Only a few days later, I was invited by a friend to dine at Bastille so she could do research for a client (she is a designer).
Type of cuisine: “Damn good French cuisine”. French food prepared with local, seasonal ingredients. “Bastille’s commitment to organic, sustainable agriculture is unstinting. We source our product from local farmers and purveyors whenever possible. Nowhere is this commitment more evident than on our own roof: we’ve installed a 4,500 square foot garden of raised-bed planter boxes where we grow our own lettuces and herbs. Installed and maintained by Colin McCrate of Seattle Urban Farm Company, the boxes are irrigated and heated to keep us in fresh greens throughout the year. You can find our produce in the Salade du Toit, a rooftop version of a salade verte; in the Roasted Beet & Arugula salad; in the Herb-Encrusted Pan-Seared Salmon; and in our homemade Rosemary Lemonade.”
Ambiance: Pottery Barn meets the Paris Metro at Bastille Cafe & Bar in Old Ballard. The inside of the establishment is remarkably large and spacious. It boasts white, Metro tiles and black fixtures, complete with a Paris Metropolitan clock. The mirrors on the walls offer daily treats and specials of the house. A Provencal-esque shelving unit and dresser host a guillotine for slicing the semolina baguettes. “Ballard has been called “the most soulful” neighborhood in Seattle. We think of it as the 21st arrondissement of Paris: the Farmers Market, the boutiques, the little coffee bars and boîtes. And now, Bastille—a neighborhood café that transports you to the City of Light. A dramatic space of white tile, black ironwork, and a 45-foot zinc-topped bar; light fixtures discovered at the Clignancourt flea market; a back bar that once graced a Seattle mansion; a clock that adorned a Paris metro station; and the hood that used to vent a furnace in Obermaier Machine Works, the family-owned business that formerly occupied the space that now hosts Bastille. Everywhere your eye falls in Bastille, there’s a visual feast: 19th century sconces from a church in the French countryside; pendants from a school in Seattle; a cozy “hearth” around which to gather on cool evenings; a host stand that once serviced a small hotel. It’s all about reinvention, rediscovery, restoration. In fact, that’s our aim—and the source of the word “restaurant”—to restore our guests to a condition of comfort and pleasure amidst the hubbub of urban life.” The restaurant is separated in a dining area, bar, patio and the kitchen separates the front space with the back bar. “The words we most often hear when people walk into Back Bar are, “Wow!” “Gorgeous!” “Yummy!” Painted a rich dark chocolate, you feel as if you’ve entered a boîte à bijoux, a jewel box of delicious details: a crystal chandelier hangs from an arch salvaged from a French church; amber light glows from behind reclaimed grillwork; Art Deco sconces adorn the walls. And above it all preside two paintings recreated from the originals by French symbolist painter Pierre Puvis de Chavennes, figures representing both the terror and inspiration of the French Revolution.”
What I ordered: At our table of five, only one of us had dined at Bastille prior to this venture. Being our first evening out to enjoy a delicious meal, we splurged! From the A la Carte menu we placed two orders of the frites (Kennebec potato fries) & aioli ($5 each), one order of the endive grillees & sauce gribiche (grilled endives with caper relish $6), champignons roties (mushrooms roasted with garlic confit $5), souffle de fromage tombe (fallen cheese souffle $7), and to round off the selections, one order of petits pois au beurre ( peas & pea vines sauteed in butter $6). Bread and butter are brought to the table only if ordered, and we took advantage of the Grand Central Bakery’s baguette (semolina baguette with a classic crust served with European-style creamy butter made in America but with a higher fat contet not typically found in domestically produced butter. $3 for unlimited refills). For dinner, we had three orders of the saumon dans le pistou ($26): roasted King salmon with chickpeas in a basil pesto sauce, topped with oil-cured olives and a taragon and parsley herb salad. One of our more adventurous diners ordered the lapin en pot au feu ($22): rabit braised with carrots, chard, pearl onions and dijon. The last in our party ordered the burger d’agneau ($12): a lamb burger, topped with feta cheese ($2 additional) served on a lavash sesame bun with harissa aioli, arugula, pickled shallot and a side of frites. We could not pass up les desserts with the calibur of foods gracing our table and the fun evening spent in conversation with good friends. At our table, we placed an order of each of the following: huckleberry sabayon (wild huckleberries with bruleed sabayon sauce $8), roasted peach crostada (peach tart with brown sugar ice cream and peach compote $8), elderflower creme brulee (elderflower-infused custard with pizelle cookies $8) and the chocolate mousse cake (pistachio anglais and lace tuile cookie $8).
What I loved: My dining companions and I agreed that the favorites of the table were had at the beginning in the petits pois au beurre, the champignons roties and the frites. Of the main entrees, having tried a bite of each, the prize went to the herbed lamb burger. Of the desserts, everyone had their own favorites. I loved the freshness of the peach tart. The chocolate mousse was the favorite of the diner who ordered it and the elderflower creme brulee was copiously flavored and layered with a thick sugar coating.
Why I loved it: The space is large and very inviting. It is the perfect place for large parties or smaller, more intimate meals in the bar or at the fireplace. The decor, reminiscent of the south of France and the Parisienne metro, bold and engaging. The company made the night and the food kept us there for nearly three hours!
Cost: Average to high ($17-$27 for dinner entrees)

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