Old ballard liq xlbipz

Never bored with herrings bord. Photo via Old Ballard Liquor Co. Facebook

Oh yes, Ballard gets just a bit more Scandinavian with a quaint cafe from Old Ballard Liquor Company. It had an unofficial secret opening day at the end of May and quietly did trial runs throughout June. Now, in its established taproom at 4421 Shilshole Avenue Northwest, sip on aquavit paired with Nordic nosh.

The distillery already had a taproom where folks could try their award-winning aquavit, a savory spirit that’s often paired with food in Europe. But Old Ballard Liquor Company owner, who mononymously goes by Lexi, wanted to bring the experience of a contemporary Scandinavian-inspired cafe to Seattle. Enter this 12-seat cafe and taproom led by chef Justin Newstrum—a Ballardite who’s cheffed at Portage Bay Cafe, Dandelion, and Harvest Vine.

Newstrum’s menu skews towards a more modern take on lesser-known Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish dishes. No Ikea meatballs here, people. Instead try a plate of pickled and smoked herrings with housemade crispbread or smoked lamb tartare with red currants and sorrel oil. There’s also a Nordic charcuterie board of salt-cured lamb, coriander beef rilette, plenty of pickles, and more. To drink: aquavits of course. Heed the suggested pairings on the menu that may advise the Alskar citron aquavit over the Midsommor dill aquavit. Or, if you’re not quite ready to dive into the straight-up aquavit lifestyle, it can be served in the form of an interesting cocktail.

And in the Swedish coffee tradition, afternoons will be all about fika, which means Herkimer Coffee and freshly baked treats. Baked goods include the classic cardamom sweetbread, vetebröd, from Svea Bakery as well as an old-fashioned sour cherry pie.

Hours are from 3 to 7, Wednesday through Friday, and from 1 to 7 on weekends. Skål, y’all!

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