I was recently introduced to this Ballard restaurant and bar by a friend who knew of my love for the outdoors. I didn’t exactly know what to expect when I walked in the door on a cold Friday night but was instantly intrigued! I sat down and was faced with a wall of hiking/backpacking/biking/climbing guide books and every type of map imaginable. There were laminated Green Trail, National Geographic, Delorme, and Custom Correct maps available to take to your table or peruse in “the map room.” The books and maps were mostly local, but many hailed from outside in the states and beyond! Little did I know at the time, but you can also purchase one of eight National Geographic – Washington State maps, should you be filled with the urge to chart, calculate, or design your next exploit!

After talking with the owners, Ellen Kelly and Rick Weersing, I learned that the two were avid backpackers/adventurers that had been dreaming of a place like this for nearly ten years. As all worthy backpacks and hikes end in the eventual discussion of the next meal or a restaurant review, the inspiration behind their dream was born. They decided to create a watering hole that could grow as a destination for outdoor enthusiasts, those with a common interest to share stories and exchange experiences. Thus, The Noble Fir was introduced to the neighborhood nearly nine months ago. It has fast become a place where hikers come to plan and plot their next adventure. Kelly called it a “pint for inspiration.” I couldn’t agree more! When asked the story behind the name of the bar, Weersing noted that the Noble Fir is one native to the area and is the tallest and longest living of true fir trees. Kelly said that it “married” the theme of the bar to their vision for the restaurant. And, with pictures of trees lining the walls of a warm wooded room, I would have to concur.

They have one of the largest selections of craft beer (and cider!) on tap with a healthy dose of old world wines as well. The food was introduced to compliment the fermentations. You can get a platter of charcuterie (Dry Cocoa Salami!) and cheese (Triple Cream and Manchego, two of my favorites actually), a steaming mug of soup, or a sandwich (I chose the salmon sandwich with cream cheese and chives, makes me crave one even now). There are even vegan options like Lentil Sage and Smoked Tomato (I’m not vegan, but it sounds amazing). All food items were chosen as they are high quality, naturally-produced, and local products.

It attracts three types of clientele. First, it hosts a range of community outreach programs, ranging from the Sierra Club (it meets the first Tuesday every month if you are interested in a new club) to WTA. Additionally, it has Pints for Parks every Wednesday after 6:30 pm where $1 from every pint is donated to habitat restoration. To date, they have donated nearly $2300! The second type of patron is the fermented beverage connoisseur. As it has quite an on tap selection, it is easy to see why. Last, and perhaps most obvious, it attracts the outdoor enthusiasts, one that is forever seeking the next peak, a fresh patch of snow, or a vast meadow to daydream the day away. With guide books ranging from Chile to Tiger Mountain, they are sure to be entertained.

The Noble Fir is open every evening except Monday (the only day that Kelly and Weersing get a day to get up close and personal with a Noble Fir!) and is located at 5316 Ballard Avenue NW close to the corner of NW Vernon Place. If you didn’t already have a reason to stop by for a pint of cider, you do now!

The Noble Fir

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