Ba Bar: Street food, cold drinks and excessive consumption of both.
I am well aware that I have already written about Ba Bar this calendar year – I don’t care and you can’t stop me from doing it again. I’m not playing favorites or trying to get in with chef/owner Eric Banh, I’m not biding my time there before I cocktail-stalk Murray Stinson or Jamie Boudreau up the way at Canon and I’m certainly not a Seattle U student although there are many times I wish I were still in college… I just love the food, plain and simple.
Ba Bar is plain and simple. The atmosphere is enticing enough with a chalkboard full of spirits, a progressively growing wine list and grub menu, stiff bench tables and a colorful and stuffed bar. The service is usually hit or miss, the bathroom lock has failed me not once, but twice and it is a higher ticket than most Vietnamese joints, but the bottom line is the food is yet to disappoint.
Offering Friday movie nights, Kung Fu Karaoke Wednesdays (the untrained vocalist may or may not be crooning directly adjacent to your table so beware of your vicinity to the television) and coffee/breakfast service, but Ba Bar really shines when it gets to be savory.
As restaurant concept #4, chef Banh launched Ba Bar on 12th and Cherry in Capitol Hill in July of last year. The Vietnamese street-food-focused restaurant and bar seats just more than 50 guests to imbibe and dine on Banh’s value-driven menu. Named after his father who passed nearly three years ago (“ba” means “father” in Vietnamese) and with the help of his sister who runs the show at their Monsoon restaurants near Volunteer Park and in Old Town Bellevue, Banh is caught frequently behind the line at Ba Bar more than his other joints.
Open daily, Ba Bar’s bites and larger blowouts are available Sunday through Thursday from 7:00 am to 2:00 am, Friday and Saturday from 7:00 am to 4:00 am, providing a happy hour menu from 3:00 to 7:00pm daily and late night listings from 11:00pm until close. They are drawing in the late night, younger crowd with craft cocktails and the munchies that ensue hours after midnight.
The Dish: Pâté chaud ($5 for lunch, $6 at dinner, $4 during happy hour) — Bánh patê sô, in Vietnamese, is a puff pastry delight, derived from the French influence they garnered while under the European country’s occupation a few centuries back. The translation is “hot pie” and the pastry is just that – stuffed full of ground Carlton Farms pork, caramelized onion and carrot but diners are enticed to push their self-indulgence a couple steps further with the option of adding a fried egg and bacon gravy, for an extra dollar each. Dive into the decadence and do it all.
The Variety: Ginger Beer — Do not be befuddled by the usage of the word “beer,” this beverage does not contain alcohol. The carbonated sipper is flavored by ginger and sweetened by some sugar, it is traditionally made by a simple fermentation process of leaving water, sugar, ginger and the ginger beer plant (which isn’t really a plant but a fungus) and allowing it to macerate in itself. It sounds slightly revolting but the brew is making a comeback in the Emerald city with local producers (see Rachel’s Ginger Beer), the resurgence of classic and craft cocktails and the need for the ginger beer’s flavor and texture.
Why It Works: Mix it with dark rum or potent vodka, ginger beer enhances cocktails with its sharp bite, sweet spice and refreshing citrus components. For the savory pork-based pâté chaud, a freshness is brought to the hefty pie through citric acid, cool ice and the soothing elements of vodka.
The Recommended Match: Moscow Mule ($8) — Served in a copper mug over ice, Polish Sobieski Vodka is mixed with fresh lime and beguiling yet tangy ginger beer. The copper pang of the mug brings an astringency to the drink and is a classic touch to the old school beverage. Ba Bar credits the throwback drink on their menu to its origin, the Cock n’Bull Tavern in Los Angeles, 1941.
The restaurant’s slogan of “street food and cold drink” isn’t just a headline for their website but a philosophy for their overall concept. Legitimate, delicious food and yes, the drinks are very cold.
Ba Bar | 550 12th Ave, Seattle | (206) 328-2030