The Station

This former tire store in Ballard rolls up the doors and rolls out a classy menu.

A night at the Station in Ballard is bound to be playful. An old tire store that owners Ward Van Allen and Uma Mischler have redone in black and red tones with roll-up industrial doors, the Station's bar area is a prime place for a cocktail and a cheese plate ($9). Its booths are perfect for private conversations, and its tables are made from salvaged chalkboards and patrons are provided with chalk to scribble away. (Polaroids are taken of the too-good-to-forget drawings.) The short menu is also entertaining: Most everything is $9 and presented in a manner that lends itself to dish swapping. On a recent visit, we got the special soup ($9): creamy corn chowder that was ultrathick and contained juicy kernels of corn—ideal for a rainy night. The chef, Michael "Marty" Martino, a Queen City Grill alum, also crafted a hearty herbed mushroom risotto with roasted vegetables ($9) that was pure goodness. That dish's yams, cauliflower, and green beans had both bold roasted flavor and tenderness. A piece of hazelnut-encrusted rockfish with caramelized shallot butter ($9) was also satisfying. Though the friendly restaurant only had one dessert option when we went, a chocolate torte ($6), our table of chocolate fiends didn't complain. The decadent forkfuls were washed downed with Vivolo decaf coffee, served in a little French press. And, come check time, if you're still up for more conversation, you can always draw what you're trying to say on the table. MOLLY LORI

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