Ballard's Portalis Wine Bar's Not Rustic, But Refuses Chic

At 9:45 p.m., the sun still hadn't completely set. Strands of color hung in the Ballard sky and seemed to be stretching their way slowly to the west over the Olympics, a gentle tangerine and indigo hooding of the Earth. At Portalis Wine Bar, the main facade is composed of glass doors that open up for weather just like this, creating a spillover onto rustic-chic Ballard Avenue. Considering the interior of Portalis (abstract art hung from exposed brick walls, a library of wine shelved near worn-out signs for Ford and Yick Kee Laundry), the flow between the two is perfectly natural; Ballard Avenue is now far from rustic, but still stubborn enough to resist looking chic. Wine by the glass ranges from a California syrah to a Burgundy chardonnay, while the Small Bites menu boasts a Fresh Market Cheese plate that changes, presumably, with each visit. The mix of clientele (upper-middle-class sippers and blue-collar guzzlers) speaks to Portalis' ability to transcend the stereotypes of wine drinkers, and to its staying power on this ever-changing street.

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