Sawyer: A welcome edition to Ballard’s restaurant row

Pork Belly Buns. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

Sawyer opened earlier this month in the old Kickin’ Boot location in Ballard serving casual, chic new American fare. Drawing inspiration from Chef Mitch Mayers’ fine dining background and childhood memories at the state fair, he has created a menu that features items including bone marrow matzo ball soup with a pho broth, oxtail nachos, and animal style burger. 

Pork Belly Steam Buns. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

After training on the East Coast at the Culinary Institute of America, Mayers returned to The Herbfarm in Woodinville for his internship, before heading to Denver for several years. Most recently in 2014, he returned to Seattle and worked his way up to become Lark’s chef de cuisine.

The layout is spacious and airy, with high ceilings, exposed wood beams, and cozy booths. While it’s an open space, the dividers are appreciated, giving a little more intimacy to the tables in the center of the room. There’s also an outdoor patio—it’s covered and equipped with heated floors, so it can be utilized all year.

Ahi Tuna. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

We started with the Ahi Tuna, which was nicely sliced and served on a generous bed of avocado with a spicy mayo sauce. It ate like a deconstructed sushi roll minus the rice. The filling in the Pork Belly Steam Buns was balanced, with sweet pickles, crunchy Taiwanese peanuts, and rich, juicy pork belly. The buns themselves were a little lacking—too dense and a little gummy—not quite measuring up to the traditional fluffy and light Taiwanese-style buns.

To be completely transparent, I am not experienced with eating artichokes that didn’t come out of a jar, so I struggled with how to eat the Wood-Grilled Artichokes. I managed to get the good parts, which was a messy yet delicious experience. The anchovy hazelnut remoulade melded well with the softness and mild nuttiness of the artichoke “meat”. Note: providing wet wipes might be helpful.

Wood-Grilled Artichokes. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

Rock Candy Spot Prawns served on ripe watermelon with a wasabi Dijon was a fresh combination. The perfectly cubed watermelon was peak ripeness. While the prawns were sweet, they didn’t remind us of rock candy as they didn’t posses the crunch you’d expect.

We debated on the Half Rotisserie Chicken or the Animal Style Burger, and decided on the chicken. It was a healthy portion and was cooked well, we especially enjoyed the crispy skin, but I likely wouldn’t order it again. We asked out table neighbors about their burger and they said it was delicious—we’ll have to get that next time.

Dilly Bar. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

While the S’more Choco Tacos are incredibly instagrammable, we went with the Dilly Bars—I can’t turn down a cookie dough dessert. The Dilly Bars are essentially an elevated ice cream bar with a Theo Chocolate shell and cookie dough semifreddo. It was yummy. Enough said.

As expected with a new restaurant, service had its kinks, but I’m sure it’ll be up to speed soon.  We look forward to when they roll out their weekend brunch.

Sawyer     |       5309 22nd Ave NW, Ballard     |      (206) 420 – 7225