Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fresh in Ballard: GreenGo Food

[Note! GreenGo closed the end of August. Dylan, Heidi, and their son Cypress have packed up and moved to Mexico, where they'll run an organic farm. We'll miss them and their wonderful food but wish them luck on their new venture!] I’m passionate about good food but not so much fancy, fussy gourmet fare. Give me clean, honest, fresh ingredients produced by people who care about a quality product—artisans, really. All the better if the food is grown locally, without pesticides, in a sustainable manner that nourishes the land for future generations. Many upscale restaurants around Seattle and Portland now offer wonderful meals made with food from local producers. But where can you grab food like this on the run without overstretching the budget?

Just south of Market Street in downtown Ballard, a postage stamp-sized brick building sits alone next to a parking lot, dwarfed by sprouting condo developments. Formerly Patty Pan Grill, this spot recently reopened as GreenGo Food. (Don’t worry, Patty Pan is still at the farmers' markets.) Last week I notice a new sign on the building and walk in to see what’s up.

An attractive, wholesome-looking young couple is busy in the open kitchen behind the counter. “Welcome!” says Heidi, her rosy cheeks flushed as she looks up from tossing veggies on the open grill. A cute little boy asks me if I want to sign my name on the green post with a magic marker. (That’s Cypress, Heidi’s son.) Heidi and Dylan Stockman tell me they’ve been serving up savory food at a few farmers’ markets around Seattle and met while cooking at the late, great Union Bay CafĂ©.

“Our concept is sort of like a taco truck without wheels,” says Heidi. She mentions Skillet Street Food as an inspiration. Skillet Street’s trailer moves to a different neighborhood around Seattle throughout the week, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal, and local fare. "Our motto is fast food with a conscience." They've developed relationships with local producers and are committed to serving and supporting local agriculture.

My first take-out meal from GreenGo is their daily special—a lamb pho filled with slivered vegetables and rice noodles, served with a split side of coleslaw and herbed grilled potatoes. Dylan tells me the lamb comes from a small regional farm. While I wait, he serves up the fragrant pho in a compostable container while Heidi grills the sliced small potatoes and dishes up the crispy slaw. All for less than $8. When I get home and take my first spoonful of the pho, I’m astonished at how complex and excellent the rich broth tastes. Really. It’s sweet and spicy, with hints of lemongrass and fresh lamb. My meal is healthful, inexpensive, and very satisfying.

Last night I swung by GreenGo and had the daily sandwich special – a grilled turkey breast sandwich served on artisan Tallgrass Bakery bread, with Greenbank Farms sharp white cheddar, caramelized red onions, and sliced dill pickle and a side of vinaigrette-laced coleslaw. When I tell Heidi I’m watching my saturated fat intake, she obliges and switches to olive oil instead of butter on my bread for grilling. “Want some tea while you’re waiting?” offers Dylan. He pours me a small cup of Enumclaw oolong. Yes, tea grown in Enumclaw by Rockridge Orchards, just 40 miles or so south of Seattle in the Cascade foothills. Spiked with honey and fresh lime juice, the tea is marvelous. I’m bummed to hear they’re almost out of this season’s supply.

Of course the warm sandwich is great. I’m not sure exactly what else is added to the onions, but their savory sweetness perfectly balances with the sharp cheese. And I’m intrigued by the curl of the crispy green cabbage slaw. How do they do that? Another good meal, again less than $10. Actually it was less than $7 but I threw in a decent tip.

Yea, it’s a tough time to start a business, but with such good food for such reasonable prices, I think GreenGo Food is the perfect recipe for a recession-proof business. Head on over to Ballard if you live in Seattle, or make a special trip there if you’re just visiting. You can take your meal to go, or sit at GreenGo Food’s cozy counter and chow down. When it warms up, enjoy your fare at one of their sidewalk tables. And hey, if you try their cheeseburger made from Skagit River Ranch beef, post your review as a comment below! (I haven’t tried it yet.)

When You Go
Here's a link to their menu. GreenGo Food is open 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. so you can grab dinner on your way home from work.GreenGo Foods on Urbanspoon


Barry said...

Okay, so now I'm wishing I lived a little closer to Ballard! Thanks, Jill!

LJ said...

I will definitely have to try it- looks delish!