nick's off market image.jpg
The Place: Nick's Off Market , 1556 N.W. 56th St., 783-0131, BALLARD.

The Hours: Daily, 4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close.



Happy Hour Helps Nick's Off Market Find Its Footing

nick's off market image.jpg
The Place: Nick's Off Market, 1556 N.W. 56th St., 783-0131, BALLARD.

The Hours: Daily, 4 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close.

The Deal: Pints of NW Peaks' Ingalls Ginger, Manny's, Inversion IPA, and other rotating draughts are $4; anything from the menu of small plates is $5; and glasses of wine are $6, as is the cocktail of the day.

The Digs: Just a couple of months ago, the corner spot at N.W. 56th Street and 17th Avenue N.W. was The Amber Den, a neighborhood wine bar from Nick's Off Market owner, Nick Simonton. Where most new bar owners stick with their original concept whether it's working or not--hence the high failure rate within that first year--Nick played it smart: he talked with his patrons, surveyed his hits and misses, and decided some changes needed to be made mere months after opening. During that downtime, booths went in, a full liquor license was granted, and a menu full of small plates and sandwiches was developed. Now open as the eponymous Nick's, the cozy bar is a family-friendly affair aiming to serve unpretentious food coupled with craft cocktails.

The Verdict: Nick's Off Market is still very much a work in progress. The menu we ordered from--labeled as pre-opening version 5--read a bit awkwardly, and the small plates seemed of varying value for the $5 happy hour price tag. "Crunchy jalapeno cheese bites" turned out to be a grilled cheese sandwich with sliced jalapeno, cut into four squares like Mom would do in a school lunch, and served with a bowl of tomato-basil dipping sauce/soup. "Mini mac 'n' cheese" was, indeed, miniature. But you can't fairly judge a kitchen's food so early in the game, and Nick's has been delightfully transparent about the changes that are going on behind the scenes, so I have high hopes once the menu is fully dialed in.

In addition to the microbrews on tap and wines by the glass, Nick's has a full bar, from which he draws inspiration for the signature cocktail (with a twist) list. Seven cocktails and seven days of the week correspond nicely, and Nick's discounts one of the drinks to $6 each day: cucumber mojitos on Monday, Southern old fashioneds on Tuesday, and so on. Friday brings cheap jalapeno margaritas served in salt-rimmed pint glasses--an enjoyable end to a shitty week. Nick himself muddled the jalapenos, cilantro, and lime that joined the tequila in my glass, resulting in a nicely spiced, easily drinkable cocktail that wasn't too sweet. My friend, a heat-seeker of the highest degree, urged him to hurt her, and Nick warily tossed in two whole jalapenos; know that you can get yours made to your comfort level.

Go now to support a neighborhood newbie--go again in a month when any kinks are ironed out.

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