Monday, May 09, 2005


For a long time, eating in Ballard, Washington meant one of three things - diner food, tavern food, or lutefisk. In other words, the establishments were there for no fuss breakfast/lunch eaters, drinkers or Norwegians. Not that there were strict divisions for in many places you could find plenty of Norwegians drinking their breakfast...

But Ballard has changed. There was a joke that for every tavern built in the town, a church was built to "counteract" it. In fact, during the early days of the last century, there were probably four main industries in Ballard: lumber, maritime (fishing and ship build/repair), drinking and religion. Now the four main industries in Ballard seem to be eating and drinking, tourist/baby boomer lifestyle crap, medicine and the maritime industries that are still hanging on. The last three industries exemplify the three main components of the present culture in Ballard.

Ballard was a working class town until very recently. Being very close to the industrial waterfront and also because of its Scandinavian heritage, it never really became hoity-toity or gentrified like other neighborhoods of Seattle. That is rapidly changing as local industries are closing, the Fisherman's Terminal is allowing pleasure-craft moorages (!) and the demand for yuppie pleasure spots is transforming the storefronts of Old Ballard. However, there are still plenty of the Old Ballardites around - and who help make the medicine industry of Ballard particularly strong. They also somehow keep all the Scandinavian food shops in business - though how someone could make a living selling lye processed cod is beyond me...

The other two components of Ballard are the industries that are still there and the new influx of baby boomers/yuppies. The old time industries and their workers keep the old time taverns and saloons in business while the baby boomers/yuppies keep the wine bar and latest foodie restaurants in business. You can have the quintessential smoky tavern with pickled eggs and pickled customers across the street from a schmancy wine bar. I have a feeling that either establishment is not poaching the clientele from the other...

(There is also a subculture of hippie/hipsters that is kinda perpendicular to everything else - they have their tatoo parlors, chai tea and coffee lounges, t-shirt shops, record stores etc., but they have probably lost out to the yuppies in overall influence - but what do I know, I'm a baby boomer not a hipster - i.e. I don't have any ironic clothing, eyewear or headwear - honestly, what is the deal with wearing ugly wool hats all year round? Though I have to admit I like the ironic wool hats better than the previous hipster head treatment plan consisting of dreadlocks that announced their presence both olfactorily and visually. But isn't it so typically bourgeouis for a yuppie to be so concerned about smell?)

So to get to the point already. One day I noticed after almost six years of living in Ballard that I had not visited most of the restaurants in Ballard. This is mainly because we make 95% of our meals and when we have gone out to eat, it is mostly where we have coupons from the Entertainment book or some other source. But lately we've tired of that strategy (and tired of the less than welcoming treatment at some of the restaurants in the Entertainment book.) I've always been a proponent of shopping local so this summer I will try to visit every restaurant within walking distance of my house. The limits are that they should be sit down restaurants, mainly serve food (which rules out a lot of taverns...), and locally owned (sorry Denny's!). Also, a certain Chinese restaurant where my wife witnessed two drunks stumbling out at 7am is not going to be visited.

As a self-obsessed blogger without a life (are there any other kinds?), I will write about each visit. I don't know what will come out of these writings but I'm sure they will not be reviews in any accepted sense of the word.


At 5/27/2005 12:31 AM, Blogger Scott said...

>> we make 95% of our meals and when we have gone out to eat, it is mostly where we have coupons from the Entertainment book or some other source <<

So let me get this straight: you have no culinary variety in your life because you are a cheapskate, then you suddenly snap out of it one day and we have to read about it? I'll bet you ten to one that your reviews end up talking about a) how expensive everything is and b) how many teenagers there were.

Oh, and by the way: I am playing my part in the destruction of your oldster lifestyle. Not only am I having a kid (i.e., a future teenager), but my wife's yuppie men's clothing store will soon be in Ballard. Mwah ha ha ha! There is nothing you can possess that I cannot take away!

At 5/27/2005 12:52 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Just for you I'll rant occassionally about teenagers and the cost of food, don't say I never did anything for you.

For the record, we have plenty of culinary variety in our kitchen - when I cook I loath to repeat a recipe. But you are right we did kinda snap out of it when my wife decided unitarily that my bigger paycheck will subsidize any and all restaurant going. Hence my leverage in throwing out the Entertainment Book.

At 10/11/2005 11:25 AM, Blogger tom naka said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you! I have a restaurant san diego site/blog. It pretty much covers restaurant san diego related stuff.


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