The Hi-Life: It’s A Beautiful Life

Chow Foods has expanded its Mini-Empire into yet another neighborhood of Seattle, this time taking over the old Ballard Firehouse space to create their newest restaurant, The Hi-Life.

The Hi-Life is a gorgeous, homey space. We enjoyed a leisurely Saturday brunch there this past weekend, and took in our surroundings while sipping freshly brewed Caffe Vita coffee. Exposed brick walls, high ceilings, long windows that let in the morning sunlight; none of this is new to previous patrons of the Ballard Firehouse. But Chow has done up the place with lovely vintage lights, just the right balance of seating and open space, a great mix of eclectic chairs and tables, high backed booths along the southern wall, and plusher booths lining the remainder of the dining room. A full bar is installed in the northern third of the space, tasteful and elegant (non-judgeable on a Saturday morning at 11 AM). I sat facing the open kitchen, complete with a wood oven and a clean and happy seeming crew, preparing what creates the heart of any Chow endeavor; the meal.

The Hi-Life’s menu is larger than its Wallingford cousin Jitterbug, and more eclectic than Queen Anne’s 5 Spot. The breakfast menu offered up 3 “rumbles” and 3 omelettes, all served with fantastically herbed grilled potatoes and Essential toast. Highlighted dishes included scrambles with root vegetables, a delicious, enormous helping of french toast, and other typical-with-a-twist brunch fare. While heavy on the “pig” items, the menu for both breakfast and lunch offers plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. For lunch, wood-fired pizzas are offered, as well as a list of sandwiches. A roasted beet salad looked interesting, and our neighbors were digging into a french onion soup that I could practically taste from two tables away.

My dining pal and I shared a rumble with italian sausage, those divine potatoes, and the fabulous French Toast. I’ve never had french toast like this before; four huge slices served up with a big slop of espresso marscapone and sugared hazelnuts. Syrup was served, but absolutely not necessary. Sweet, rich, heavenly.

The service is friendly, typical for a Chow joint. We were offered a glimpse at the dinner menu which never materialized. Our food was served on big glossy black plates, which matched the retro black and white menus. What will make the ambiance of The Hi-Life will be the clientele, and the restaurant is primed to accept hordes of Ballard natives who are in desparate need of moderately priced, yummy food served up in a classy place by fine folks. Bon Appetit.

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