Bastille Cafe & Bar: Ballard (Seattle), WA, USA
Le Bastille, or its former name – Bastille Saint-Antoine, was a prison fortress that was used by many french kings. It was stormed and taken over on Bastille Day during the French Republican movement. It was originally built as a defense during the Hundred Years War, I believe it was against England. My recollection of AP European history fails me greatly at this point so I am going to stop before I dig myself into a hole. More information on the Bastille prison can be found here (on Wikipedia).
Bastille was also the french bistro that my friend took me to up in Ballard, just outside downtown Seattle. Fremont is supposedly packed with a bunch of small to moderate but wonderful restaurants and bistros. My knowledge about Seattle neighborhoods is quite shaky – I believe that Ballard is still considered part of Seattle, so the address would say “Seattle, WA” but like San Francisco, just because you live in city doesn’t mean your neighborhood is called “Seattle”. Locals in SF would say that they live in “The Mission” and so in Seattle, I am assuming they would say they live in Ballard.
The food was not so typically…french. Perhaps the closest would be the mussels in wine sauce that my friend got. I suppose the pate that I got would be “french” but I’ve also gotten a similar dish in New York. Then again, I was also in Paris last November and I ate a lot of local food, both on and off the street. Crepes maybe, baguette sandwiches, Croque monsieurs and madames yes. Oysters on the half shell…ehhhh, that’s kind of found all over the world, especially in seafood cities like Seattle. But we shall still review! Onward!
The oysters on a half shell were decent. I can’t say that they were the best oysters that I’ve had. They weren’t ridiculously briny (which is what most of the Pacific Northwest is known for) like the last time. I can’t say the dipping vinaigrette left a wow-factor in my mouth either. One thing that I would recommend is to drain the oysters a little bit more instead of just shucking them and placing them on ice. Although I have to say, I appreciate the effort as shucking and opening oysters is incredibly difficult.
I ordered the chicken pate because well, I love pate. It’s not the best dish for you given that it’s essentially fattened liver but it has such a wonderfully rich, meaty taste that is hard to find in any other food. I suppose that’s why it is so expensive. This dish was a chicken pate and it was served with baguette chips and a nectarine compote. On original taste, the nectarine compote went really well with the pate: the combination of sweet and savory was quite nice, and there was a little twist to the sweetness as it was a fruit-type of sweet. The size of the pate was ginormous! I honestly don’t think it is healthy to eat this large a portion of pate if you ask me. In addition, it is too much flavor for a whole meal. I don’t claim to be the world’s smallest eater or the world’s biggest eater, but halfway through, I was sick of eating pate. The size of the slab was pretty much that of a slice of Texas toast. Not regular toast mind you, but the thick and hearty kind that is composed of two regular slices of bread.
The dessert however, was by far my most favorite part of the meal. Yes, on top of my lime sorbet were two mini cheesecake macarons. (NOT macaroons, but macarons – the infamous french merengue cookie that is ridiculously hard to make). I had to take off the macarons because I wanted to save that for last. Personally, I am a sucker for fruit and light desserts. On occasion I will go for a delectably rich dessert like tiramisu, but I felt like going light today. The lime sorbet definitely had a big kick to it so if you do not like sour or tart dishes, I would stay away from this (yes, even with the macaron). It comes with two scoops and you have to eat it somewhat fast because sorbet will melt pretty quickly. I can’t remember if the dish was cold (or stuck in the freezer), but it would probably help keep the sorbet cold (similar to sticking a beer mug in the freezer prior to using it to drink beer).
All in all, a summary:
- Oysters on a half shell: ***.5 stars (3.5 stars)
- Pate w/ Nectarine compote: ***.5 (3.5 stars)
- Lime sorbet w/ macarons: **** (4 stars)
If you would like to check out Bastille cafe and bar for yourself:5307 Ballard Avenue NW
Seattle, WA 98107
phone: 206.453.5014 web: http://bastilleseattle.com