The Eats: The Other Coast Cafe, 5315 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-0936. Sub and sandwich shop.
Burger Bear was not my sandwich, but Burger Bear is way cuter than my sandwich.
The Deets: When I squared off with Chelsea Lin during this match of Tabletop Wrestling, my visceral dislike of grilled sandwiches came out in full swing. Why anyone likes those mouth-eviscerating abominations is beyond me--but when I stopped into the Other Coast Cafe's flagship Ballard store recently--a low overhead affair, befitting more of old Ballard than its current incarnation, rife with swanky bars and upscale BBQs--I was oddly compelled to order one. Wait, did I just say upscale BBQs?
Welcome to new Ballard. No, things aren't the same here anymore--Scandinavian fisherman's haunts have made way for upscale boutiques and fancy pet stores--but where vegetarians of past years scrounged the 'hood for a plate of fries or a cheese omelet, now there's seitan subs and gourmet veg-friendly offerings everywhere you look.
The Beets: I was doomed to learn again why I hate those grilled things so (it's like eating a giant crouton sandwich?!), but the lure of Coast's house made seitan and the recommendation of the spunky cashier who suggested it served warm cast the crusty creation in a new light. I ordered the Seitan, Cheese & 2 Veggies ($7.95) on grilled mutli grain with provolone; Toby had the Please No Meat ($7.95) with veggies and cheese galore on a baguette. My seitan was spiced, savory, sliced thin and stacked high like a Reuben--perfect--but the mouth-shredding bread it was piled between had me rethinking my order.
After a satisfactory test nibble, Toby and I switched halves and I found my Coast Cafe sweet spot--soft baguette roll, crunchy fixings (kraut included) coated with vinegar and oil, mounds of cheese, and a generous slathering of mayo. Minus the kraut, it was the sub of my old East Coast--that other coast--days of yore: a soft and sloppy roll-up-your-sleeves kind of deal, the way a sandwich should be.
The Tweet: Veggie specialties--including a yet-to-be-reviewed garbanzo bean sub--make The Other Coast Cafe a much-needed detour from Potbelly and Jimmy John's. Just order your sandwich on soft bread!