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Saturday, December 21, 2013

#2116 #S1122 - Ballard Annex Oyster House, Seattle - 3/24/2013

Zak Melang and Nathan Opper are the owners of a number of quite successful Tex-Mex restaurants called "The Matador." I don't know if I'm able to keep track of them all, but they have been established in Ballard, West Seattle, Redmond, Tacoma, Boise, Denver, and two in Portland. Recently they have branched out to create a couple barbecue restaurants, and with the Ballard Annex, to fresh seafood. Some of their common themes are taking historic old buildings, putting a ton of money and work into remodeling, and using local artisans and materials to create a woody, themed decor. Melang himself, while not playing base for the Super Sonic Soul Pimps, creates most of the iron work and woodwork himself. Opper takes the lead on finding chefs and developing the menu.

The Ballard Annex (named for the 1907 annexation of the fishing community by the city of Seattle), has a nautical theme, and a cocktail menu heavy on rum drinks. I had a Willy's Negroni, which I thought was pretty good, and an Anniversary, which I felt was a little overwhelmed by the champagne (but then I think this about many cocktails featuring champagne). The food is fresh seafood and it is presented in a way that resembles a seafood market counter, with big steel pots of chowders and bisques in front of bins of oysters. I do not eat oysters, so I can't really comment there, but I do consider Dungeness crab with cocktail sauce to be pretty much the acme of human foodstuffs. My crab cocktail was leggy and fairly good (although it does not pose any challenge to my favorite crab cocktail in town, from The Met) and they offer a nice range of sauces mango habanero, spicy cocktail, classic cocktail, and shallot mignonette. (The others were pleasant to sample, but it's classic cocktail for me.)

The restaurant is housed in a 1908 building near the junction of Ballard Avenue and Market, the two major restaurant and retail thoroughfares in a neighborhood booming with great places to eat and drink. The building has housed a department store, car dealership, the Ballard News Tribune printing press, and a few restaurants, most recently Thaiku (now in Greenwood). Subsequent to this visit, the area that hosted Fu Kun Wu, the apothecary-themed bar of Thaiku, was opened as "Grog."






5410 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107 - (206) 783-5410
Est. March 21, 2013 - Building constructed: 1908
Previous bars in this location: None known (Thaiku Restaurant featured Fu Kun Wu in Grog space)
Web site: ballardannex.com - facebook
Articles: thestrangerseattlemag - bizjournals - eatinseattle - king5 (video) - seattlemet  -thrillist - ballardnewstribune - yelp - tripadvisor

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