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Traveler on Leary, Stepping Stone, Ballard SEA

Had another mediocre meal at Hale's last night, wondered if we should have tried out The Traveler across the street instead. Anyone tried it, and how's the food?

Also I'd love to hear reviews on Stepping Stone. Their website's sexy, have not tried the place yet. Do they have food @ Stepping Stone? I'm sick of all the usual places in Ballard!

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  1. went to the Traveler, awesome! generous portions for the price, although our review is pretty simple since we mainly went for beer(s) and split the mini burgers and fries. everyone was super friendly, really good service (didn't hover, but was there when you needed them) and the mini burgers rocked. an order was 4 mini burgers, the aoli had a bit of a kick (which was nice), the meat was juicy, had a few other toppings too? can't remember... carmelized onions i think? and they were served on great little buns (anyone know what bakery they get them from?) overall, everyone was really happy and decided we need to go back for an actual meal.

    1. How can you be bored with Ballard!? La Carta, Ocho, Copper Gate, Senor Moose, Sambar, Volterra, Portalis, La Isla....

      anyway Traveler has good bar food, it's the same owner as Great Nabob on lower QA. Haven't been to Stepping Stone yet but have heard that Anita's crepes is open now.

      1. The Traveler has great cocktails. Haven't eaten at either yet, but the Stepping Stone is also fun for its good beer and casual booths, made of reclaimed wood.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Salty Mouth

          "How can you be bored with Ballard!? La Carta, Ocho, Copper Gate, Senor Moose, Sambar, Volterra, Portalis, La Isla..."

          I didn't think of the Puerto Rican place, which we have not yet tried. Ocho and La Carta take a lot of fortitude with the lines and all, CG has gotten terrible reviews so have not been interested, Portalis and Sambar are places just for snacks, I am not insane about Volterra, nor the Moose. Seriously, even with all the options, it still seems like there's not a lot sometimes, since a lot of it's not all that special.

          BTW we are at Bal Mar not too long ago and were pleasantly surprised. They've upgraded their menu there and it's a lot better.

          1. re: allisonw

            I've eaten at CG many times and it is good, but it is small portions/heavy apps like at Sambar and Portalis so that might not work for you. I find those two to serve very substantial portions though.

            What about Austin Cantina? I haven't been there yet.

            Good to know about Bal Mar

            Also there is Snoose Junction, the new Sushi spot on Ballard Ave, Hamburger Harry's, The Station and that Vietnamese place...

            1. re: little ms foodie

              "What about Austin Cantina? I haven't been there yet."

              ZZZZ.

              "Also there is Snoose Junction,"

              Nothing special

              "The Station"

              Never seen anything positive written about that place so I've avoided it

              "and that Vietnamese place..."

              Monkey Bridge. Wanted to like it, but it was the worst Vietnamese food I have ever had.

              1. re: allisonw

                Austin Cantina is going out of business. Another option is Kiss; haven't tried the food yet, but the international beer selection is killer.

                1. re: Salty Mouth

                  Gone, not going. Tho, in Oct when it was mentioned, it was still going ok. They suffered when they lost their kitchen staff.

        2. I've only eaten at The Traveler once, but really enjoyed it. Nice beer list and the food was good. I had the grilled caramelized onion and cheese sandwich and a side of fries. Both were delicious and the fries come with one of four aiolis. The pesto aioli rocked! Great staff, too.

          1. Loving wife and I just got back from first Traveler visit.
            The Steak of Steak Frites was well-accomplished rare. If not extraordinary, it was nicely plentiful, and we decided the frites are among the best in town, though that is a confusing list and fries are often good enough for what thery are. Nice to see real "small plates" served instead of "vanishingly tiny."
            Mini-burgers with "crispy prosciutto" were odd. The buns were unfortunately plain and cold for 22 degree weather. The cold plain greens were no help, and the Prosciutto was roof-of-the-mouth-cutting crispy and somehow did not meld with the burger in the way surely intended. Not a total flop, but we won't be doing that again right away (the steak-frites, or surely the frites, will get another go).
            The grilled French onion sandwich was the big hit. Lovely caramelized toasty bread, sweet grilled onion and melty cheese (Gruyere?), served with a surprisingly flavorful mushroom au jus.
            Nice tap list, if short, with a Belgian or two, Guinness, and other exotics present.
            The decor is "cheap-chic" and mostly comfortable enough, but I hope if they succeed they'll get some more of the great lumbar-supportive chairs at the bar for the tables, as well. A gift to the graying neighbors they will attract.
            A nice place, with pretty good and thoughtful food. It may very well become a monthly visit, specially if the brunch delivers.
            We're glad to have it in the neighborhood and will explore the rest of the menu. if, of course, the squeezed-out economy lets them live at all.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mrnelso

              We tried the Trappist Salad and French Onion Sandwich on Monday, both were great, as was the chipotle dipping sauce for the sweet potato fries. The "special" flat bread pizza was way overcooked and inedible though. One thing to note, they do have trivia on Monday nights, so the place is busy, and of course loud.

              We'll go back to try the curry mussels (but not on a Monday), anyone tried those yet?