Renee Erickson Triumphs Again with Barnacle

Allison Austin Scheff  |   February 2014   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION
Seattle magazine barnacle renee erickson ballard restaurant
Barnacle’s Gabriel Meringolo slices Serrano ham

Renee Erickson has done it again, again. Along with putting very delicious foods on plates, Erickson’s prime talent is in creating aspirational spaces, setting chic, sophisticated moods and making diners feel soigné by association. In the last couple years, Erickson (owner of Boat Street Cafe and The Walrus and The Carpenter) opened two more charming marvels of food and ambience: First at The Whale Wins in, er, Frallingmont (opened in late 2012), and now at Barnacle, which opened just steps away from The Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard last fall. Barnacle fits into a sliver of a space—it’s literally cut into what must have once been extra hallway footage—and is therefore long and slim, with nary an inch to spare. Here, fine aperitivi are concocted from a wide selection of amaro (herbal liqueurs), and the eight- to 10-item menu is full of modern bar snacks meant to partner well with drinking; the food is salty, savory, hedonistic—a gorgeous leg of Spanish ham is at the ready on the copper bar—yet the whole affair is understated. I’ll happily return for the plate of tender anchovies in a spicy salsa of Calabrian chiles with thick curls of shaved butter ($8); you’re meant to spread the butter on saltine crackers, top with the stewed anchovies and eat. One of my favorite dishes in all the world—vitello tonnato ($10), or veal with tuna sauce—is truly marvelous here, with thinly shaved pork tongue, soft and tender as can be, subbing for the veal. The wine list is full of offerings from small Italian wineries, for the most part, and glasses are in the $8–$12 range. So what if Barnacle was designed as a waiting room for Erickson’s popular sister restaurant? Its charms are less flashy, but they are many. Dinner nightly. Ballard, 4743 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.706.3379; thebarnaclebar.com

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