My normal Sunday routine is getting up, making breakfast, looking at cookbooks, drinking coffee and going grocery shopping. But when we are lucky enough to have company in town, things end up changing a bit. On this particular Sunday for example I ended up getting out of bed much earlier than I normally do to spend some quality time with our neice, Kaelyn, while the Dining Diva and her sister when for a spin class. When they got back, we decided that it would be fun to go out for brunch. And when you go for brunch in Ballard, one of the first places that pops to mind is the Bastille Cafe. It’s located right in the heart of Ballard, and really takes pride in fresh and local ingredients (including having a garden on the roof of the cafe).
When we got down to Ballard, I dropped the ladies off to go put our name on the list at Bastille while I went and found a parking spot. While they were busy, the wait was only expected to be 20 minutes or so, which we thought was pretty good. And since it was a Sunday, the Ballard Farmer’s Market was open. So we took the time to walk around and check out a lot of the arts and crafts as well as the various fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses and breads. Everything looked very good, and really reaffirmed for me that I should really go down there more often for my shopping. I have lots of excuses like they don’t take credit cards (though some do), and it takes a lot of time, etc. The truth is I’m just a little lazy and like my one stop shopping, and justify because a lot of the products at Whole Foods are sourced locally. Maybe one of these days, I’ll spend a Sunday shopping at one of the many farmer’s markets around Seattle. I like to think I will.
Anyway, I digress…after killing a little bit of time, we made our way back to Bastille, and were taken to our seat. It wasn’t in the dining room, but out on the side. It’s like a patio during the summer, and a solarium in the winter. It was bright and warm, and a great place to have breakfast. I ordered a cup of coffee and Kara got some juice to share with Kaelyn and we started looking at the menu. There were a lot of things that looked delicious and fresh and seasonal. But the one thing that jumped out to me was the pork belly and grits. Both of the girls decided to go with the Croque Monsieurs.
Brunch was served pretty quickly which is good when you have a squirmy, energetic toddler joining you. The presentation was very nice in the cast iron skillet, though the portion was a bit smaller than I was expecting. I cut into a piece of the pork belly and scooped up some grits and took a bite. Texturally, it was very nice. The grits were nice and creamy and the pork belly offered a little bit of a crunch. The poached egg was also a very nice richness to the dish. But the grits seemed just a bit underseasoned…needing maybe a little more salt and pepper, or a little bit of cheese. And the pork belly was overcooked and a bit dry which was disappointing given that the thing I enjoy about pork belly is that moistness and juiciness. I think that the whole dish had a lot of potential, but the execution was just a little off.
After I polished off my breakfast, the Dining Diva allowed me to also finish hers. Now this was a different story. The croque monsieur was full of flavor. There was a nice richness to the dish, almost the flavors of a French onion soup (especially with the melted Gruyere). The bread was wonderful, and the ham was delicious. It actually made me regret opting for pork belly.
I had heard great things about Bastille Cafe as a brunch spot in Ballard. And at first after my dish, I was a little disappointed. But the remnants of the Dining Diva’s brunch gave me a glimpse into why people have such positive reactions. I am sure that it is a place we will be revisiting, especially when we have family in town. Next time, I just might have to be a little better in my food selection.