Dinner and Dessert in Ballard | A Visit to Skal Beer Hall and Ice Cream at Salt and Straw
A Waffle Cone with a Split Scoop of Wild-Foraged Berry Slab Pie and Cinnamon Snickerdoodle from Salt and Straw.
A summer Saturday night took us to Ballard where we dined at the Norwegian Beer Hall, Skal, and had some ice cream at Salt and Straw, just across the street.
Skal is a Viking inspired beer hall that honors the Nordic roots of Ballard. Skal means "cheers" and that's just what we did with a couple of cocktails. Skal features aquavit cocktails which is liquor made in Norway and has a distinctive flavor that comes from spices and herbs. The main flavoring comes from caraway or dill. The drinks we tried were a bit on the bitter side and not like we're used to. We tried a Kon Tiki and an Old Fashioned. My Kon Tiki had Caraway Aquavit, pineapple, orange, mango juice, Ginger Bear, and a splash of hazy IPA. It tasted like a boozy grapefruit juice to me.
My husband also had a Midnight Sun which had Caraway Aquavit, Orgeat, Cherry Liquor, lemon, and bitters. Our son enjoyed a fresh Lingonberry Lemonade. Lingonberries are a Swedish berry and are bright red and tangy.
To eat, we shared some dishes. They have giant pretzels served with beer cheese, so we all shared one. We had the 1 lb. pretzel, but they also have a smaller one. We also shared a basket of fries which were hot and crispy and served with a tasty dill vinegar powder with curry ketchup and lemon aioli. We also shared two of the "Nordic tapas". I selected the Pacific Salmon Skewers and the Grilled Farmer's Goat Cheese. That was served with some spiced applesauce which had a kick to it. The Salmon was okay, but a little under seasoned and overcooked. The cheese had a nice flavor that paired well with the pretzel.
My husband ordered the Fenrir Burger. It had dry-aged ground beef and grass-fed lamb, crispy onion straws, arugula, oil cured tomato jam, and melted bronost. It was served on a Brioche Kaiser Roll. Bronost is Norwegian cheese, specifically brown cheese. I tried a bite of his burger, and it was a heavy, but really flavorful burger.
We dined outside in a covered Pergola. Ballard's restaurants currently have a ton of these covered tables in the street. One positive takeaway from Covid, since people enjoy dining outside more now.
By this point, I was really full, but Salt and Straw was across the street. I had promised my sons ice cream after dinner, and it's Salt and Straw, so I couldn't resist getting a cone. We got in line, and during a Saturday night in the summer, there's going to be a line at Salt and Straw. They currently have their Berries series, with five berry flavors to choose from. I chose the Wild-Foraged Berry Slab Pie in a split scoop with some Cinnamon Snickerdoodle.
What I like about Salt and Straw, besides the unique flavors, is they let you order a half scoop of two flavors, for a total of one scoop. That way you get two flavors. I had mine in one of their delicious waffle cones. It ended up being a lot, even though it was only one scoop and I shared with my husband. But I was at a disadvantage since I was already full when I started. Boo to that.
Ballard is a foodie paradise with tons of restaurants, bars, cafes, dessert spots, and coffee places. I used to live in Ballard back in 2000 and there weren't a lot of options then. That was probably a good thing, since I was just a broke college student. Parking can be a problem, but we were able to score some for free. Ballard is really busy these days, so pack some extra time and patience if you do go hang out there!