The winding road leading from Ballard to Golden Gardens, the park and beach at Ballard's eastern edge, separates the city from one of Mother Nature's finest spectacles: gorgeous sand beaches, sweeping views of Puget Sound and the snow-capped Olympic Mountains, and lush vegetation. The scenery is so rich, I can only liken it to some of the beaches I've explored while on New Zealand's South Island.
Miri's is located alongside the Golden Gardens Bathhouse and has unobstructed views not only of Puget Sound and the mountains but of the beach volleyball courts, which were busy with recreational matches on a recent visit.
Opened this past May, Miri's features a well-balanced and locally sourced menu, with plenty of snacks and bites that are nutritious and easy to grab and go. The place is named for Miri Plowman, who runs it with partner Gabe Skoda. Seattleites may recognize the Miri's name from their long-standing presence at farmers markets and for their famed poffertjes (mini Dutch pancakes).
As I was chatting with Skoda, an unassuming little boy with a magnetic grin on his face walked into the shop to buy a La Michoacana paleta, a Mexican ice cream that comes on a stick. La Michoacana is an Eastern Washington company. The boy paid Skoda $2.50 and ran right back out. Miri's also stocks an assortment of ice cream from local business Full Tilt.
Miri's menu includes hearty meals like kebab sandwiches, made with your choice of locally sourced meat, on handmade flatbread. Plus, of course, the poffertjes, made in a cast-iron skillet. Plowman became enamored with poffertjes after visits to see her stepsisters in Rotterdam. She thought the Dutch street food would resonate in Seattle, what with the weather being similar to that in the Netherlands.
She says that because the pancakes are not sweet, due to their yeast, "they are very versatile and can be served with heirloom tomatoes, marinated zucchini, and pesto." But for now, their snack shack is focused on the sweeter possibilities—like poffertjes topped with locally sourced strawberries and cherries. Plowman and Skoda originally operated Miri's Snack Shack out of a Winnebago trailer located alongside Surf Ballard. Through a serendipitous conversation at a networking event in 2016, Plowman learned that the city was accepting bids for a new tenant to take over the concession stand at Golden Gardens. She submitted her bid three weeks later, and it was accepted. It has been a whirlwind getting the business up and running for the summer season.
The park holds a special place in their hearts, as it's where they had their first Tinder date, three years ago. Skoda brought champagne; Plowman brought oysters. They were in business together four months later.
"This is going to be an evolving process for us. We're not the type of people who think, 'We've got it figured out, screw you,'" Plowman says.
Plowman and Skoda also have a grand vision for their business activities, centered on a mentorship program for young adults, teaching job-specific skills from business administration to customer service.
So far, says Plowman, "To be able to see the work that goes into a small business, as well as interact with so many demographics of people who visit the park, is invaluable and a humbling experience."