Dockside off Shilshole Ave to the East of the Ballard Bridge sits a distiller bringing the flavors of Scandinavia to Seattle. In their unassuming space less than 50 yards from the water the Old Ballard Liquor Co produces an array of Acquavit. Citrus, licorice, dill, and spruce flavors dominate the menu. An homage to the countries of origin: Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.
The tasting room is intimate; the space dominate by the communal dining table. It’s a pretty cut and dry space. Once the drinks are poured and the plates are before you any misgivings you had about the space will begin to dissipate. There are tastes of the individual bottling available or creative mixed drinks. The menu focuses on traditional Norse cuisine.
The traditional flavors of Scandinavia dominate the menu. Because of that we ordered three items: the Herrings and Lands Bords, and three tastes of the Acquavit. A kind of Norse surf and turf. Pickled herring to the uninitiated may be intimidating. Here the fish is tender with a vinegar bite and hint of the gamey flavor of this cold water creature. It’s presented five ways with rye crispbread and house churned butter. The Lands Bord came laden with traditional Rullepulse, blood sausage, salami, pate, mustard, and pickled vegetables. Acquavit is the perfect foil to the pickled, hearty flavors. It packs a punch, cleanses the palate, and adds an authentic flair to the meal.
When the location is recommended by someone with direct ties to Sweden and you’re dining companion allies with the Danes you know expectations for authenticity are high. Before lunch was over the Swede, the Dane, and myself had made a pact to return together sometime soon to conquer the Tunnbrödsrulle – looking forward to it.