Nervous Nellie's Espresso Company

Those of us who can't help but feel a little pang whenever one of Ballard's old Scandinavian shops turns into a hip new boutique can now take heart: Jeanette Meade has established Nervous Nellie's Espresso Company in a tiny alley space just off Market Street. With photos of quaint, red-and-white summer cottages on the walls and a full slate of espresso drinks and homemade chai on offer, it's a bit of the old country for a new generation. The menu revolves around something called "Swedish toast," which comes in three varieties: butter and cheese; butter, cheese, and jam; or butter, cheese, and caviar. What makes it Swedish? "That's just how I used to eat toast as a little girl growing up in Sweden," says the Pippi-ish Meade. We chose the middle option: a robust slice of whole-wheat bread, lightly toasted and spread with butter, layered with a mild Finnish cheese, and topped with your choice of jam ($2.75). Of course, the pairing of fruit and cheese is common to many cuisines, but in this incarnation it's pure comfort food, a perfect balance of nutritious and sweet. Paired with an expertly pulled latte ($2.50 short, double shot), the meal brought to mind the Swedish word lagom, which is nearly untranslatable but roughly means a kind of moderation that is just exactly right. Nervous Nellie's Espresso Company, 2315 N.W. Market St., 206-706-1095. BALLARD

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