The Ridgeback Café is a very new addition to the strip of bars and restaurants on the bit of 65th that runs through Ballard, and sister restaurant to Georgetown’s Hangar Café. The most striking thing as we walked into the restaurant one recent evening was how darn cozy it felt. Intentionally so: wood paneling on the walls, the mid-century modern hutch affair adjacent to the kitchen, matching lamps on either end of the room, and what looked to be a dresser atop a small area rug directly across the space from the front door. Or maybe it was the big carboy of beer burbling on the top of the kitchen-facing counter – the beer-making courtesy of a friend of the café’s, apparently. The assortment of mismatched salt and pepper shakers (like this great pair of gorillas) definitely helped to up the cozy factor. It felt a bit different when we went back for brunch a week later, when it was all bustle-y with the Seattle-loves-brunch-crowd, and the kitchen a little slow and still working out the kinks. Still the same interior so still cozy, but I definitely prefer the quieter hours.
Crêpes are the specialty of the house, as with the Hangar Café. Though they aren’t exactly the most photogenically exciting subject, what you don’t see folded inside this mushroom version is the wild mushrooms, sherry and cream reduction, or much of the spinach it sits atop. Much more dramatic is this salad, with apple smoked bacon, feta, caramelized red onions, and greens, with a dressing of reduced pear balsamic. It was dramatic in large part because of the whole slices (!) of bacon, which made the salad a little tough to eat but also entirely delicious.
In addition to crêpes, there are a number of sandwiches on the menu, including version of the reuben, roast beef, and turkey club that look to be interesting twists on the standard versions. I also like the look of the bean wrap, with yams, sweet potatoes, red peppers, black beans, and field roast chipotle sausage, all wrapped in a flour tortilla and grilled. One I did sample on our second visit was the breakfast sandwich, with fried egg, apple smoked bacon, tomato, caramelized onions, avocado, cheddar cheese, and spinach. Chock full of different flavors but not as large as one might imagine given all of the ingredients. Perfectly sized, actually, when served alongside the nicely seasoned roasted potatoes.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the sweet crêpe options, particularly because I rarely leave a crêpe establishment without trying the Nutella version at least once. It’s like Pad Thai at a Thai restaurant – the ever-present menu option that serves as the benchmark when trying multiple restaurants serving similar food. Ridgeback Café’s version was just as delicious as expected, though really, how can you go wrong with chocolate-y, hazelnut-y Nutella and whipped cream?