The biscuits here are weighty nuggets of carby, buttery goodness, and you'll need (and want) all the stomach space you can get.
It’s really quite incredible how much power an approachable, reasonably sized biscuit can punch. In breakfast-sandwich form, it doesn’t look much different from, say, a thick English muffin. But a hole-y English muffin, it is not — quite the opposite, and particularly so at Biscuit and Bean in Ballard, where the biscuits are weighty nuggets of carby, buttery goodness. Any illusions about how quickly you’ll gobble one up dissipate about four bites in.
One of my dining companions said it best: “My eyes were bigger than my stomach.” Indeed, a recent morning excursion to the small, locally beloved biscuit-and-coffee operation left us all very full. (I still wasn’t hungry at lunchtime a few hours later. That biscuit sandwich is a mighty little thing.)
Biscuit and Bean, located along busy 15th Avenue Northwest, has technically existed in its current incarnation since September. But it’s been a part of the neighborhood for much longer. It first opened in 2014 as Morsel and Bean, a joint business partnership between the owner of Morsel, another beloved Seattle biscuit spot, and the current Biscuit and Bean owners, Ben Libay and Ryan Jayne, who ran a coffee company called Bean Coffee Bar. Differing visions and priorities for the business led them to part ways last year — amicably, Libay said — so Morsel moved out; Morsel and Bean then became Biscuit and Bean.
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Since the split, Biscuit and Bean has developed its own recipes, from the biscuits down to the jams, with the help of head chef and general manager Haily Haight. They’ve added more vegetarian options. And they even hosted a tasting party for regular customers before deciding on the final menu.
Though not all customers were happy with the split — Biscuit and Bean has retained about 50 percent of the customers from its Morsel and Bean days, Haight said — the newly named spot has come into its own. About 25 to 50 percent of customers are regulars now, Haight said, and the place is usually pretty busy on weekends, and even on weekday mornings, though it fluctuates. That proved to be true on a recent Wednesday around 9:30 a.m., when a rush of customers filled the place, and a few swooped in to grab my party’s table as we were leaving.
Libay, who grew up in Southern California, said customers and visitors will sometimes compare Biscuit and Bean’s food to Southern food as a compliment. “I find that it’s a good tip of the hat,” he said. But, he said, Southern cuisine is not what Biscuit and Bean is trying to be. “It’s nice to be compared to it, but I’d hate to be judged by it … we just try to do what we do.”
The menu: Biscuits, biscuits and more biscuits. Five biscuit sandwiches lead the food menu, each served on your choice of three biscuit varieties (buttermilk, cheddar chive or the daily special). Then come various other items, like biscuits and gravy (“I’m not going to lie, it’s one of the best gravies I’ve ever had,” Libay said), a kale Caesar salad and a variety of spreads for your biscuits. There are several vegetarian options. There are no gluten-free biscuits at this time, but gluten-free diners can get the No Biscuits About It, with meat, eggs and potatoes and, as the name suggests, no biscuits.
On the drinks side, you’ve got your standard cafe drinks, fresh-squeezed orange juice (and mimosas), house-made soda and some other non-coffee choices.
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Don’t miss: The Signature, a sandwich boasting prosciutto, smoked Gouda, spinach, Mama Lil’s Pepper aioli and a fried egg, was as good as it sounds. On the cheddar-chive biscuit, it might have been too salty, what with the prosciutto and Gouda, were it not for the pleasantly tangy aioli to keep it all in check. The biscuit itself held together really well from start to finish, gave a nice crunch on the surface and, as mentioned before, was dense in the best way.
Both Haight and Libay also pointed to The Market sandwich (featuring Uli’s Apple Chicken Sausage, Beecher’s Flagship White Cheddar, spinach, stone-ground-mustard aioli, apple butter and a fried egg) as their favorite sandwich on the menu.
Other tips: I will emphasize again: Come hungry. You’ll need all the room in your stomach you can get. Also, there’s a drive-through if you’re really in a rush, where you can order biscuits and a spread, biscuits and gravy, or any coffee drink. The drive-through opens at regular hours but closes at 1 p.m. each day.
Prices: The Classic on a buttermilk biscuit ($7.50), The Signature on a cheddar-chive biscuit ($8.75), a buttermilk biscuit with honey butter ($3.50), a cheddar-chive biscuit with bacon jam ($4.25), a latte ($3.75) and a drip coffee ($3) amounted to $30.75 before tip. It was more than enough for three people.
Biscuit and Bean
5905 15th Ave. N.W. (Ballard), Seattle; 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 206-457-5735; biscuitandbean.biz