A welcome addition to middle Ballard, right on the corner of NW 65th and 24th Avenue NW, Copine is on the first floor of the Ballard Public Lofts and Markets building. Already, the restaurant is attracting local regulars and those traveling from other neighborhoods. We walked in recently, and here are three impressions of the visit.
The Drinks: Admittedly, the food has garnered more press, but I tend to think drinks first (and they do usually arrive first). Copine has a short list of six house cocktails, some classics, some twists on classics, some brand new, all curated by friendly and helpful bar manager Ruven Munoc. The Tuscan Villa was a hit, with Templeton rye, herbally Italian Amaro Nonino, local Scrappy’s lavender bitters, a little fresh sage, and a house-smoked cherry. It really let the rye shine, but surrounds it with hints of spice and sweet. And as you drink, the smoke from the delicious cherry becomes more and more apparent. The London Calling was also a refreshing, garden-y spin on the English Pimm’s Cup, ideal for sunny fall days. There’s a small list of beer and non-alcoholic drinks, and a strong wine list – don’t hesitate to ask Munoc for wine suggestions as well as drinks. Oh, one more beverage note: the house sparkling water is Lurisa, which is tops in my opinion. Too often the water is overlooked!
The Food: The array of edibles from chef Shaun McCrain (formerly of Book Bindery, and many other spots around the world) has a fresh focus, while taking slants of French classicism and adding twists. In the starters section, the Hawaiian Hearts of Palm salad was lovely, both in taste, with young carrots flowing around the hearts, lush coconut, and a balancing ginger aigre-doux (or sweet and sour), and in appearance. You’ll find more enticing options on the starters list, such as wild mushroom risotto, as well those populating the mains section, including Pithiviers de Canard – Stockton CA’s Grimaud Farms duck, served up with grilled nectarines and turnips – and sweet corn Agnolotti, spot-on handmade pasta with that corn and mascarpone cheese inside, paired with forest-y lobster mushrooms, figs, and brown butter. While the dinner menu boasts solely starters and mains, don’t miss asking for the separate dessert menu. The dark chocolate gateau was amazing, with rich chocolate and a picture-perfect crust, topped with Chantilly cream and accompanied by the smoothest coconut sorbet.
The Space: Though nestled in the bottom of a fairly substantial apartment building, Copine manages an atmosphere of Northwest elegance (which matches the food presentation). There are subdued earth tones throughout, an open ceiling with gray duct work on view, a large wooden table in the center that mirrors wooden chairs at the smaller dining tables, big windows facing streets, concrete floors, and happily classical music. The black bar itself is good-sized and offsetting everything else, with nine tall bar chairs and cedar planks above. The whole space has an airy-ness that balances the crowds. You’ll need reservations to sit at a table (for more than seven, one of the private dining areas is needed), but the bar seats on a walk-in basis, and I of course always suggest sitting at the bar. Everyone working when I was there was amazingly friendly and helpful, including bringing a second round of the amuse bouche just for vegetarians.