I can still taste the grilled-veggie quesadilla I ate last weekend at Patty Pan Grill, a new vegetarian outfit in Ballard. An unlikely and delicious combination of bok choy, collard greens, zucchini, broccoli, and onion (the veggie medley changes with the season) are all caramelized on the restaurant's namesake grill, then lightly seasoned, and folded into a gigantic tortilla. The veggies' heat melted the cheddar cheese tucked in alongside, and steamed up the window above the teeny restaurant's even tinier dine-in counter.
I was tempted to hoist the massive tortilla up to my mouth like a slice of New York-style pizza, then thought better of it and busted out a fork. Though tricky to eat, I devoured every errant veggie in just a few minutes, aided by a cold bottle of ginger ale. My lunch buddy, who'd actually ordered the quesadilla that I was summarily stealing off her plate ($6 for a whole one, $4 for a half), added a hefty dollop of house-made roasted-tomato salsa to her portion. While I'm a bland Midwestern girl who usually shies away from anything overtly hot and spicy, I jockeyed for a bite of her salsa-doused veggies and had to agree that Patty Pan's got a great recipe for the sauce. We made sure to nab a to-go tub of the salsa ($4) on our way out. The Thai coconut and pumpkin soup ($3.50) that sat in the cooler alongside the salsa caught my eye too, and made for a perfect rainy-day comfort-food lunch the next day.
Patty Pan's tamales, however, were another story. Originally the reason for the trek across town (do you know how hard it is to find vegetarian tamales?) the little cornhusk wrapped rolls turned out to be disappointingly dense with masa, the cornmeal dough wrapped around the otherwise yummy fillings (this week's offerings included chile and cheese, black bean and chipotle, and yam and black-eyed peas--$3.50 each, $6 for two, $8 for three). The resulting hefty, sticky tamales paled in comparison to the vibrant quesadilla. But man, that was a damn good quesadilla. Next time, I'm ordering one for myself.