Anne-Marije Rook
Nick Simonton's cozy and unpretentious Amber Den is on its way of becoming Ballard's new favorite hangout.

Amber Den now open and already attracting regulars

The Amber Den, a cozy corner establishment on 17th Avenue N.W. and N.W. 56th Street, has only been open for a month but it's already attracting regular customers, says owner Nick Simonton.

At the end of last year, Simonton set out to create a place that would provide Ballard with what it's been missing - "a good neighborhood corner hangout to enjoy great food, wine and beer".

Now, several months later, Simonton says business is going well.

"Lots of good neighborhood folks come in, and we even have some regulars," Simonton said.

Yelp reviews are promising, too, as reviewers rave about their "new neighborhood favorite", the unpretentious atmosphere, and the food and drink selection.

"I was surprised how fast some of those reviews popped up. I want to listen to what people want in this area," he said. "I want it to be a real neighborhood place."

Additionally, Simonton aims to promote small craft breweries and wineries and make good quality craft beers and wines to all.

"It drives me nuts going into a place and having the choice of a really cheap house wine, or a $14 glass," Simonton explained.

Offering four wines-on-tap as well as four rotating beer taps, Simonton said the selection is not only reasonably priced, "they're also really quite good".

With Ryan Boehler in the kitchen, the food menu includes small plates, and tapas as well as popular pub-fare with a gourmet twist like brisket sliders and quartered seasoned potatoes with homemade sauces.

And like the wines and beer, the art on the walls is a rotating selection.

"The plan is to showcase up-and-coming local artists and give them an opportunity to show or sell their art," Simonton said, adding that each artist can show for one month, including an ArtWalk event.

And while Simonton is developing a neighborhood place, a new neighborhood is going up all around the establishment.

Tucked in between tall cranes and on-going construction of the Hjarta and Denny's development sites, The Amber Den is perhaps the first sign of what the future has in store for that particular part of Ballard.

"I'm excited for these development to go up. Additional residences is better than these empty parking lots," Simonton said. "It's hard to accept sometimes but change is inevitable. It's all part of becoming a new neighborhood. I'm excited because it will liven up this part of Ballard."

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