West Seattle’s Blackboard Bistro: Believe the Hype

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I live on a budget. You read my blog, you know this. But an excellent meal out once in awhile– this is one of the things in life that we save up for and enjoy.

Yet too often, a new restaurant comes along and its got a lot of buzz, and we pay for a sitter to go check it out, and we drop $75, and we go home hungry. Or unfulfilled. Or annoyed. Or just like, why didn’t we just hit the taco truck for $10 instead?

Last night we went to Blackboard Bistro in our neighborhood of West Seattle. Let me tell you, there was no taco truck envy in sight.

Blackboard Bistro Logo

Word on the street is that you need reservations, and it’s pretty much true. You want them. We’d tried to get a table once before and were turned away at 6pm, which was perplexing to me because the place was half-empty. Now, I know why. This place puts their customers first. If you have reservations, your table is going to be ready. And you will absolutely not be rushed through your meal.

We didn’t have reservations last night, either. I’d spoken with the chef Jacob Wiegner at a foodie event a few weeks back, though, and remembered that he let me in on a little tip. Call ahead between six and six-thirty to see if there have been any cancellations. So we did. And we got a table.

one of the giant menu blkbords

Blackboard Bistro is known for two things: (1) sustainable, local, seasonal ingredients that are combined in inventive, delicious ways, and (2) their menu is on the wall, on a blackboard, and it changes about as often as the weather in Seattle. (I should mention a third thing the bistro is known for, a name-your-own-price tasting menu, which was never brought to our attention so I don’t know if that’s always an option or we just missed hearing about it last night. Another excuse to return, I guess!)

We ordered a couple of IPAs. I cook a lot myself, and we drink decent wine at home. But ordering beer is my number one secret weapon for keeping the bill down at pricey restaurants. $4 each, absolutely delicious.

Terminal Gravity Brewing Company IPA

We browsed the walls while munching on their bread served with brown butter, roasted pumpkin seeds and oregano. I asked for salt and was brought a cellar of truffle salt. I was in heaven.

Were five dishes too many, not enough? Our server thought it would be just right. Dishes are brought out one at a time, and shared. We started with a cheese board off the dessert menu. I liked that our server did not think this was weird.

The cheeseboard at Blackboard Bistro

There was not one boring cheese on this plate, and a cheese has to be pretty special to impress me. The Rogue Valley smokey blue, in particular, was incredible. Alongside the cheese were house-made chutney and crackers, dressed julienned apples, and some spicy hazelnuts.

arugula salad with figs

We ordered two salads. The arugula with green beans, pickled figs and a hazelnut vinaigrette tasted as if it had been plucked from the garden that very day. And you know, it probably had. Just because we love our veggies, we also has fried green tomatoes topped with a whole mess of beautiful honeyed mustard greens. We felt so healthy after eating all that, we ordered another round of beers.

I ordered the tuna tartare because I had to. The tuna was coarsely chopped and set atop avocado, roasted beets and candied ginger. It tasted just as beautiful as it looks.

tuna tartare with avocado, beets and candied ginger

It was right about then we realized we were full, yet we had another dish coming  – house-made gnocchi with garlic spears, walnuts and smoked tomato sauce. We had a few bites, and died over how unbelievable the flavors were, how perfect the gnocchi pillows were, how very full we were. So we got it boxed up.

gnocchi with garlic spears, walnuts and smoked tomato sauce

We got in on a lark. Ninety minutes and $84 later = total happiness. Go if you can.

Blackboard Bistro
3247 California Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116
(206) 257-4832
Lauren Braden’s new book, 52 Ways to Nature, Washington: Your Seasonal Guide to a Wilder Year, is now available for pre-order
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