Skillet Diner Ballard
Okay, before I even get into this post please read this next statement carefully. The soft opening is tonight. That means it is their (unadvertised) first night in business. That means there may be problems. Probably for the next month or so. Don’t expect a flawless experience. A new space, new staff dynamics, new menu – no matter how much a crew practices, things are going to crop up. So give ’em a break. If they do things well, that’s great! If not, come back in a few weeks and try again. That’s what I do and it works for me. Okay, enough of that.
Friday I had the opportunity to attend a pre-opening party at the new Skillet Diner in Ballard. It’s a gorgeous new space. Much larger – especially when you include the patio seating – than the Capitol Hill location. It’s light and bright and curvy. All things pleasant to the eye.
But pleasant looks can only go so far. The food and service have to carry place. The food we had on Friday was representative of the menu. By that I mean, the menu has Swedish Meatballs which are served on pappardelle with wild mushrooms, creamy beef sauce, lingonberry jam and rustic bread. What I tasted on Friday was a meatball (or maybe I had two..) on a skewer covered in a creamy beef sauce with a dollop of lingonberry. Not exactly the menu item but close enough to get an idea of the menu.
I only sampled one thing that I didn’t care for and that may have been due more to the presentation than what the actual dish will be like. I am very happy to say that the burger that made them famous is on the menu. And I noticed the cinnamon roll, which is also available at the Capitol Hill location, is on the Saturday and Sunday menu. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try but since one roll looks like it will feed a small army, I’ve held off. Scallops with corn risotto and the barbecue shrimp are a couple of standouts from the evening.
This new location’s menu is similar to Capitol Hill but a few new things nod to Ballard’s history. There will be more seafood, the aforementioned Swedish Meatballs, and Ebelskivers! And two different versions of Ebelskivers at that!
They’ve also created a few new cocktails for this location. I don’t know the Capitol Hill cocktail menu well enough to tell you what drinks are new but I will tell you that I had a “new-fashioned”, that I adored, and a “contramanhattan” which is kind of a lighter version of a Manhattan. Both delicious in my book. My friend had a Riesling phosphate, which she did not care for. I suspect it was too sweet for her taste since it featured a Riesling liqueur.
I was also super impressed with the staff. This was a cocktail party kind of event, with people roaming and sometimes sitting. Several times I was very pleasantly surprised as servers would go out of their way to swing by with something we’d really liked. Or they’d bring something new, because they remembered who we were and would reference a prior conversation. The level of engagement was impressive, especially for this sort of event.
As with other locations, the staff “uniform” revolves around the plaid shirt.
More photos here.
Skillet Diner Ballard
2034 NW 56th St