The intersection of NW 56th Street and 17th Avenue NW in Ballard is home to a few new larger new apartment buildings as well as a few more also-large apartment buildings currently under construction. Needless to say, it’s a neighborhood that’s growing. Lucky for those new residents, a nice new bar, Corner Spot, just opened right in the middle of the construction and high-rises.
And really, shouldn’t having a good bar or restaurant in your neighborhood be a part of choosing to live somewhere? I think so, at least. And the Corner Spot is a dandy place, owned by Kacy Fitch, who not only lives in Ballard, but once co-owned one of Seattle’s original bars driving the cocktail renaissance of the last fifteen year, the venerable Zig-Zag.
With that history, it’s no surprise that Corner Spot features terrific drinks. I stopped in a recently with a couple pals, and we tried a number of selections from the House Drinks menu (which had nine total), and while each was worthy, our top choice was the "Guadalajara." A bit of a globe-trotter, it starts with a trio of Mexican ingredient -- Reposado tequila, agave syrup, mole bitters -- and adds Italian-made Monte San Costanzo amaro, a slightly mint-forward herbal treat. All together, you’ll sip swirls of spice, herb, bitter, and chocolate notes.
You’ll also find a number of cocktails boasting house-made ingredients, including the rich, boozy (in the best way) "None But the Brave." Its combination of two base spirits – rum and brandy – accented by lemon and an allspice-y pimento dram made right here makes for a memorable cocktail, and one that is a great night-ender. For those looking more towards beer, there’s a list of five local breweries and one cidery on draft, and a fun list of both in bottles, running the range from Miller High Life to a VanderGhinste Belgian sour. Wine is also represented with 18 choices covering bubbly, red, pink and white.
The food from chef Mario Pujals (past at Pono Ranch and others) is a tasty match for the drinks, too, with a menu covering apps to dessert and everything in between. Whether you’re in the mood for a quick snack or a multi-course meal, don’t miss the vegan cashew pub cheese, which was so amazing we ordered it twice – really! It may be my favorite bar snack in a while, a lush, whipped, lovely cashew spread with a garlicky, slightly nutty, nature. It comes with apple slices, crisp crostini and gluten free crackers for dipping, but you may just end up spooning the “cheese” out and straight into your mouth, it’s so good.
The Nosh on the apps section of the menu was a hit with the carnivores at the table, with walnuts, figs, bacon, and brown sugar as well. If you’re desiring a bit more, there are four sandwiches, from a Smoked Gouda melt for veggies to a traditional Cuban sandwich with slow cooked pork and ham, plus pickles, swiss, and Cuban mustard. If even hungrier, you’ll find two entrées, a meaty Creole mac-and-cheese and a 7-oz. London Broil. Just make sure that you have enough room to fit in an order of that cashew pub cheese first!
Speaking of room, while the Corner Spot isn’t a giant place, it feels bigger than it is, airy, even, thanks to not over-packing the seating and the high ceiling, which also allows the bar to fit in a loft level reached via stairs on the back side of bar shelves. The wooden-topped bar itself has tall bar chairs with their backs facing the main seating area. The latter’s comfy booths run alongside the wall parallel to 56th Street, with big windows. You’ll find a few tall tables, too, and upstairs in the loft, more wooden tables. On the stairs as well as over the booths are a series of framed prints of Italian cities – well, we thought they were all Italian, at least.
Those prints help add a bit of escapism to what’s a worthy neighborhood joint. And while I’m sure even more neighbors will show up as those apartments get finished, the laughing Friday night crown when we were in demonstrated that the Corner Spot is already becoming a mainstay, slightly off the main Ballard beaten path.