Thursday, March 1, 2007

tiled, brown and delicious [hattie's hat]

Hattie's Hat on Urbanspoon
When I'm in the mood to become a regular somewhere, Hattie's Hat is what I look for. It's got a honest dive atmosphere that's been cultivated for over a hundred years. It's got a friendly wait staff, and it's small enough that you can actually get to know them. It's entirely laid back. And the spot is consistently hit by diner+ fare.

You may not be familiar with the term 'diner+'. More than likely because I just made it up. But the concept isn't hard. It's just diner food that doesn't suck. I get a certain amount of amusement in ordering a hot chocolate and receiving a cup of hot water and a packet of swiss miss, but I really enjoy it made with milk and coco. You get the concept, yeah?

hattie's exterior
The exterior is subdued. It's easy to miss in the clutter of ballard ave.

Well, Hattie's does. They make all their own sauces and it shows; they do them well. The fries, ooooh! I grew up on fries like this. But where Mannie's Pizzeria (of kensington, maryland) peppered the things with big splotches of McCormick Season salt, Hattie's dusts them lightly and evenly. The effect is a subtle richness that left us wondering if they make their own season salt as well.

We always end up ordering a second round of these amazing fries.
When ordered alone they come with the seattle standard:
tartar sauce (also made in house)

It's not just fries though. All the other food is pretty good too. The veggie burgers are pretty good in a standard sort of way. The portobello sandwich is also good, but again, it didn't blow me away (I'm spoiled though, by a portobello master of a SO).

I got good reports about the turkey au jus. The jus was unexpectedly sweet, but it worked. The photo below brings up another point. The soup, made in house of course, is consistently good. That is butternut squash and bourbon soup in the background, and they seem to have salmon chowder pretty regularly.

turkey au jus
turkey au jus

Since the vegetarian sandwiches have been leaving me happy but not ecstatic I've been thanking my stars I'm eating seafood again. The tuna melt is really good. But even better is the smoked salmon ceasar. The menu doesn't say that the salmon is extra, but by the time the bill came I was so stuffed full of yummy fish I didn't mind at all.

salmon ceasar saladsalmon ceasar salad

They say the ambiance is to the restaurant as the presentation is to the food. It's the kind of knowledge you get from studying for the SATs. But it makes for a decent segue into a discussion of the interior. Wood paneling. A huge mural that could have been painted while they were installing the bar (in 1904). Linoleum tables with a faux wood grain that matches the walls in the same way that a rolax matches a rolex. A big round booth. A random fish tank in the back. A taxidermied king crab mounted on a plaque over the bar. In other words, home.

The flowers might be slightly wilty,
but that's because they're real.

The waiter caught me taking all these (crappy) photos. He asked me who I worked for. I was all "I'm just some guy. I have... errr... internet." He said "Ah, I'm not worried about press. The food here is good." Right on man, and I'll see you soon.

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