When the Washington Huskies won the Apple Cup against Wazzu and qualified for a bowl game, the first thought was “let’s follow the team!” But when the tickets and everything got a little pricey, option 2 became finding a place in Seattle to watch the game. So our resident mixmaster NickyTsunami, the Intern, and I put our heads together to try and figure something out. The problem was, it was played on a Thursday night, and a bunch of us had to still put in an honest day’s work. This meant that it would be difficult to get into some of the traditional sports viewing venues like Sport, the Loft, Spitfire, the Ram, etc. Finally it clicked, Shelter!
Shelter is located down near a lot of the older warehouses and industrial area of Ballard, but it has a little bit more of a cool, trendy vibe. During the summer, there is a very large open deck, but during the winter, the doors are closed and some heaters and fireplaces lit to try and keep the area warm. We thought it would be a good place because not a ton of people would automatically think Shelter for the football game (and it turns out we were right, able to get plenty of seats, though it did fill up as the night went along.
While the point of the evening was to get together, watch a football game, and drink a bunch of Manny’s, it was also an opportunity to try some of their food. I was actually surprised when I looked at the menu because the dishes seemed to actually have a strong Cuban/Latin America theme to it…not at all what I was expecting, but I decided to just go with it. For an appetizer, I ordered the PB&J Jalepeno Poppers (yes you read that correctly, PB&J). And then for dinner, I figured I would go with the Cuban sandwich.
The jalepeno poppers were very interesting. The peanut butter was actually mixed with some cream cheese, and whipped into a fairly light texture. This cream mixture was stuffed into a jalepeno pepper that was breaded and fried, and topped with a sweet and spicy jelly. Everything actually worked really well; the peanut butter wasn’t overpowering, but was definitely there. Each bite had a great crunch from the breading and the jelly was a nice sweet and spicy balance. The pepper it self could have stood to be a little roasted first as it seemed a little raw, and a did get a stem on one, but I really did enjoy them as an appetizer. Just interesting and fun and good.
After I finished the jalepeno poppers and a couple more beers, the sandwich made it’s way out. I’ve had a couple Cuban sandwiches in Seattle, and my favorite is by far the one at Paseo. So, that was my baseline when I took a bite. The sandwich was good. Lots of tender roast pork. There were some pickles to add a little crunch and a little acid, but not quite enough given the amount of pork. But I felt like the ham got a little bit lost, and everything ended up being a little dry as the mustard sauce was very subtle, and almost non-existent.
We ended up having a wonderful time at Shelter, ordering food and drinks, as well as watching a game which ended up being a Husky victory. The food was good, and interesting, though the sandwich wasn’t “OMG” like Paseo. As for the vibe and just overall ambiance, Shelter definitely seems to fit with the growing, trendy Ballard, punctuated by places like Staple and Fancy and the Walrus and Carpenter (I’m not saying it is at that level, so hold on…I’m just saying it’s a little trendy and fun in a neighborhood full of old buildings). It’s a place that I can definitely see myself at this summer, trying some of the different dishes, and enjoying a nice cold beer with my friends.