Ballard Welcomes B&O Espresso"/>
Occasionally, businesses suffer growing pains settling into a new location. After all, a fiercely loyal following is reluctant to appreciate changes, even when it's for the better. But just a week into B&O Espresso's opening in new northern digs, the place is packed morning, noon, and night.
Courtesy of B&O's Facebook page
If you build it, they will come--even from Capitol Hill to Ballard.
It took three visits over the course of as many days for me to finally get into B&O: the first lunchtime effort resulted in spending so long looking for parking that I squandered my break; the second late-night attempt yielded nowhere to sit, and nowhere to wait for a table to open up. But finally, on the cafe's first weekend brunch, I found both a place to park my car and a place to park myself: juuuuust right, as Goldilocks would say.
The place is significantly smaller than B&O's Capitol Hill institution, seemingly a quarter of the size. And while the old location had 37 years to come into itself, the Ballard spot feels no less charming: distinctly European (gentle wafts of accordion music and all), efficiently laid out, with a friendly mix of Capitol Hill regulars excited to cheer on owner/baker extraordinaire Jane Lukatah and Ballard locals overjoyed at the addition to the neighborhood. Though a note on B&O's website says the move is temporary and that the plan is to move into the new complex being built at the original location sometime next year, an interview with Lukatah that ran in the Ballard News-Tribune makes it sound like they are here to stay--at least for now.
That's good news for fans new and old alike. Where the old cafe had expanded into a full-blown restaurant, the new B&O is keeping it simple, with a carefully curated menu of light-as-a-cloud crepe options, authentic Middle Eastern small plates, and a signature selection of desserts, ranging from slices of tri-layer cakes to shallow bowls of crème brulee. Coffee is far from an afterthought here--sweets and savories both pair well with the Caffe Umbria beans, a nearly smoky blend that packs a bold flavor without that unpleasant aftertaste that frequently accompanies such a strong brew. You can have yours served simply in a French press or gussied up into a sugary concoction like the Milky Way with caramel and chocolate; I recommend the Americano, which is served in a bell-shaped, insulated glass thermos to keep it warm and provides a refill (and a half) for the tea-sized cups.
Capitol Hill is further infiltrating Ballard with the addition of Bauhaus, coming soon to the corner of N.W. Market Street and 20th Avenue N.W. I'm just happy B&O has set such a pleasant tone for the exodus north. Can Ballard request a Vivace as well? I may never have to leave my 'hood.