Not to turn this into a food blog...but came across two great new places in the Ballard area this week:
Egan's Ballard Jam House. A jazz club by night, this place on NW Market has a short but distinguished menu of lunch offerings. You can't go wrong with the gumbo, and the vegetarian I had lunch with gave a "thumbs up" to the Mediterranean wrap. The cheesecake looked impressive, but we weren't doing desserts. Egan's was pleasantly quiet, with a bluesy soundtrack in the background; I suspect it will soon be hopping as word gets around about the wonderful food.
The Barking Dog Alehouse. This surprising large restaurant is tucked away on the west side of Phinney Ridge, on NW 70th. We didn't check out any ales, but their halibut breaded in panko was a knockout. The friend who brought us there had the mozzarella, tomato, and basil sandwich -- lots of beautiful little open-face sandwiches on baguette slices, drizzled with olive oil. Superficially, this looks like pub food but there's a much defter touch and better flavors. (I've seen some online reviews complaining about the service here, so apparently things go downhill when it's busy. On a weekday at lunchtime the Barking Dog was barely half-full and the service was very attentive.)