Photo by Zachariah Bryan
Oysters and cocktails are the name of the game at the new Ballard Annex Oyster House.

Ballard Annex Oyster House: A new seafood joint with a local flavor

First the Matador, then Kickin' Boot Whiskey Kitchen, and now Ballard Annex Oyster House. Nathan Opper and Zak Melang are officially starting their latest venture, a seafood joint, today, Thursday, March 21. It'll open at 3:30 p.m.

The Ballard Annex Oyster House (5410 Ballard Ave NW) is, to put it bluntly, very Ballard.

It's a new wave, hip Ballard with a splash of old Ballard. It's another haven that will attract food-obsessed Seattleites from the recesses of Capitol Hill and elsewhere, but it's also comfortable enough where a local could feel right at home. Not too loud, cramped or blaringly hipster.

Zak Melang, who spearheaded the design, said in a press release, “My goal was to create an attractive space comfortable for every seafood lover -- whether you want to grab a counter seat and a quick bowl of chowder or sit down for cocktails, oysters, prawn scampi, and dessert.”

Ballard Annex is located in the old Ballard News printing press building behind the old, original town hall bell at Marvins Gardens. (Want to learn a bit more about Ballard News, our ancestor? Click here.) Before the building housed the press operation, the folks at Ballard Annex speculate that it was built in 1928 and was originally a department store and then a place that sold automobiles.

More recently, it was the spot where Thaiku took command of the neighborhood as one of the premier restaurants. But they have since moved on over to Phinney Ridge.

The interior design of Ballard Annex is all local.

All the wood tables and other wood-related work was done at a woodshop in the industrial area of Ballard.

The glass for the lighting was blown by Fifty Four Sixteen, a glass studio that started in Ballard a few years back.

The metalwork was done by Seattle artist Anna Sher, who also did the metalwork outside the Ballard QFC.

And a wood panel design on one of the walls in the back bar consists of scraps leftover from the Matador and Kickin' Boot Whiskey.

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Main seating area. Photo by Zachariah Bryan

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Seating area in back; the owners are considering making the small area behind the stone wall as a wine cellar and putting a window in the porthole. Photo by Zachariah Bryan

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Backbar with wood done at a shop in Ballard. Photo by Zachariah Bryan

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A table in the back area with a window overlooking the main seating area; the wood paneling on the wall is made of scraps from Matador and Kickin' Boot build-outs. Photo by Zachariah Bryan

What's on the menu? As head chef Josh Green, formerly of Ponti and Virginia Inn, puts it, it's just "Seafood, seafood, seafood." He said it breaks the Northwest seafood stereotype a bit by introducing an east coast flavor.

But most importantly, Green is a believer in simplicity and "really letting seafood speak for itself."

Green brings a necessary love of seafood, too. He grew up on Vashon Island and remembers going fishing, diving for dungeness crab, holding tanks for live octopuses and who knows what else during that period of volatile childhood and adolescence.

Speaking of his decision to be a chef, and more specifically cook seafood at Ballard Annex, he said, "I definitely found what I want to do."

Oysters are front and center in the menu. "We’re shooting for eight varieties of Pacific oysters every day. We’ll have them on the half shell, steamed, or baked—Oysters Grand Fromage, Sante Fe, and Rockefeller," said Nathan Opper, who led menu development, in a press release. "Having live tanks means lots of crab and lobster on the menu. We’ll offer Dungeness in a crab cocktail, in cakes, and as an entrée. Lobster fans have lots of choices—bisque, rolls, and house-made ravioli.”

Cocktails are also a worthwhile treat at the Ballard Annex. Melang said, "We’re excited for Bloody Marys, Bloody Caesars, and lots of bubbles."

Since the Ballard News-Tribune isn't quite your premier source of food criticism -- just food loving -- we'll let the pictures do the talking.

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Photo by Zachariah Bryan

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Chilled Lobster Roll. $20. Photo by Luke Knecht

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Willy's Oysters Rockefeller. $12/19. Photo by Luke Knecht

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Last Word: Gin, green chartreuse, maraschino, lime. $12. Photo by Zachariah Bryan

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Old Cuban: Rum, lime, mint, sugar, angostura, bubbles. $10. Photo by Luke Knecht

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Uh, where did the Old Cuban go? Photo by Luke Knecht

Ballard Annex Oyster House
Hours: Mon-Thu 3:30 p.m. - Midnight; Fri-Sat 11 a.m. - 1 a.m.; Sun 11 a.m. - Midnight
Location: 5410 Ballard Ave NW
More info: http://www.ballardannex.com/

Zachariah Bryan can be reached at zachb@robinsonnews.com

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