Ballard's Take 5 Urban Market, not to be confused with the 'hood's blink-and-you-probably-missed-it now shuttered 5 Corner Market, has this motto on its website: Why cook when someone else can? An excellent point, and one my family lives by regularly.
Soup that warrants poetry--a testament to Take 5's cuisine.
But Executive Chef Bryan Vietmeier (oh yes, how many mini marts do you know with an executive chef?) at Take 5 isn't just "someone else." In fact, chances are the food he's churning out at 6757 8th Ave. N.W. is likely better than the home-style momma's cooking he emulates. If he's doing the cooking, you're probably eating better than you normally do.And Vietmeier has nothing but a small open kitchen set behind a few wine racks and shelves of international ingredients to do it in. The market itself is not big by any stretch of the imagination. There are the aforementioned racks of affordable bottles of wine, a couple of displays featuring a mish-mash of groceries (really, mostly condiments) ranging from coconut milk to Arborio rice to capers, a table topped with rolls of Mentos and bags of Kookaburra licorice, one deli case stuffed with homemade desserts and a wall of beverage options, from microbrew six-packs to off-brand root beers and Odwalla bottles. You can pick up a Herkimer coffee or espresso from the bar, and stop to enjoy it at one of the perhaps 15 seats.
It's the sort of place every neighborhood needs, the sort of place where you can pop by between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to pick up a jug of milk, a jar of salsa, a dozen eggs, a bottle of wine before you head out to a dinner party. The fact that it stocks all this and offers an all-day menu of hot and cold sandwiches and comfort food dinner specials is just icing on the cake.
When I stop by, I'm immediately angry I've waited so long to go--this is my neighborhood and I'd written off this unsuspecting store as nothing more than a standard deli and tiny grocery store. But I can tell from the menu--warm Reubens with house-cooked corned beef brisket, huge meatloaf burgers on Grand Central Bakery buns, tomato-carrot bisque, spinach salad with fresh pears and bleu cheese--that this place is more than initial impressions permitted. In addition, the shop has a special sandwich and dinner plate available each day (follow them on Twitter and Facebook to find out what the day's offering is).
I pick up a meatloaf burger, a chicken-and-bacon melt, the daily dinner--tonight a chicken parmesan topped with pepperoni and served with creamy sauced penne--and a spinach salad. The sandwiches are both great, still warm when I walk the eight blocks home, and my motley crew of hungry diners digs in happily. The meatloaf is flavorful on its own and only bettered by a brief stint on the grill and addition of toppings. The melt, too, is well composed, with all ingredients receiving equal billing. But the dinner is perhaps the best deal: less than $12 for two tender, crusty chicken breasts topped with cheese and sliced pepperoni, with a generous portion of pasta. The specials rotate each night--I'm particularly interested in trying pork night on Mondays and spaghetti with meatballs on Fridays--but this one was so tasty it warrants a repeat visit.
In fact, I'm already planning a trip back, preferably after a gym run, for a giant wedge of mac 'n' cheese and slice of carrot cake. This place is definitely the sort that loves its regulars, and I'm hoping to become one.