Even if it was just an ordinary gastropub, Brimmer & Heeltap would get our recommendation.
But this new Ballard spot goes above and beyond to make it one of the hottest openings of 2014 so far.
First off, the cocktails. Conceptualized by Jeff Steiner (formerly of Ray's), they're simple but elegant. Go for the Ballardvardier, made with bourbon, sweet vermouth and Ramazotti bitters.
Now that you're lubricated, the small, carefully-curated menu wants your attention. Try the octopus soup with parsnip, daikon, and leek; and the broiled pork shoulder with caramelized onion kimchi is mighty.
Even better, the kitchen doesn't close here in the wee hours. Instead, they unleash a late night menu boasting delicious small plates like pickled oyster shooters and an unbelievable goat with black lentils.
Also on the menu is the "family meal" — what the kitchen staff makes for the crew at the end of the night. On Saturdays, this is an astounding house-made ramen with six-minute egg and brussels sprout kimchi. You need this.
So stay up late and eat like a chef. You might never order off of the regular menu again.
Price: 2 (out of 4)
Noise: 2 (out of 4)
Best bets: Octopus soup; broiled pork shoulder; Saturday night ramen
Nearby: The Tin Hat; Uber Tavern; The Noble Fir