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Anything new in Bellingham these days ?

Christmas shopping, kid photo with Grinch, Trader Joe's ....... all beckoning me. Will get mighty hungry doing all that. Any recommendations ?

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  1. Well, sadly, Bham, as usual, has not much to offer. (Enough commas.) We miss the losses, and don't have replacements to offer.
    I can't recommend this place, as I haven't been yet, but if you're going to TJoes, it's right next door, and might be worth a try. LaLa Eatery: with banh mi and noodles.
    http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/88/178772...

    Also, if you haven't been, The Local is worth a shot. Especially if you drink beer. They have a reuben that everyone thinks is wonderful, but only available at lunch, so I've never tried it. I've had their venison sausage and mashers, which was quite nice. They have a great selection of beers on tap. But if you're not a beer drinker, beware. Their wines are, meh, to be generous. And no spirits.
    But we keep going, so it's apparently worth it in poor ole Bham. I have no idea if they are kid-friendly.

    46 Replies
    1. re: L.Nightshade

      Thanks :-) Yeah I saw LaLa (guess the haircut place is a goner) last time I was in the area, and and made a fatal mistake of eating at that horrid diner across TJ's (Lee's Drive-In) which I talked about here:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/923966

      Hmm maybe we'll go check out your rec for Jeckyl and Hyde Deli.

      1. re: LotusRapper

        Ha! Common mistake, that I have actually made! I have not eaten at Jeckly and Hyde. You are confusing me with Nightsinge, another hamster CH poster!

          1. re: LotusRapper

            Oh, no problem whatsoever! I actually mistook Nightsinge for myself on a couple occasions. It led us to be good friends!

        1. re: LotusRapper

          I am not a fan of Jeckyl and Hyde. For deli, I always have great food at Old World Deli downtown.

          B'ham has some really great food IMO, but most of my favorites are not really kid friendly. I think B'ham is very much a bar or brewpub food and atmosphere kind of town. True "family dining" options seem to be limited to chain foods here.

          1. re: sedimental

            All these years I've shamefully not ever been to Old World Deli !

            Speaking of family dining, saw quite a few fams and kids at the new Soy House location when I was there back in October or so. Weirdly, one half of the space is not used as the dining area and seemed to be under-utilized.

            1. re: LotusRapper

              Well, I typically go out for lunch or dinner somewhere with quiet atmosphere, good food, and wine or cocktails. I go to a lunch on a weekend afternoon and will almost always choose to sit in the bar or lounge area-over the dining area. There might be kids in the restaurant, but I don't really pay attention.

              I think there are a ton of really good restaurants in Bellingham, but none are new.

              1. re: sedimental

                I'd love to hear about this ton of really good restaurants! We're usually at a loss when we wish to go out to dinner. We have a few places that we find acceptable, but nothing really good (yet).

                1. re: L.Nightshade

                  Wow. I am never at a loss of where to eat around here. I don't expect to eat here like I do in Seattle, LA or vegas....but we have a ton of really great places, IMO.

                  We tend to go for specific items too. Not really looking to be "wowed" for typical dinners, but for things I don't usually make at home because I tend to cook on the "healthier side".

                  We tend to go to mambo, giuseppes,or Deanna's for pasta and wine, Asian one for sushi, old world deli for lunch, bayou on the bay and chuckanut manor for brunch or happy hour, boundary bay or hearth fire for happy hour snacks, the cliff house for whiskey crab soup and cocktails ( and view)
                  bellweather bar for the view, fireplace and cocktail hour (they also have some nice express lunch specials) dirty dan Harris for old school steak dinners, pepper sisters for Decent casual food and to meet friends, soy house for weeknight "I don't want to cook" moments, mount bakery or old town cafe for lunches, the green frog for quirky junk food....and ...man pies!

                  ...I am sure I am missing some, but an Olive Garden town would not be how I think of all the great places to eat here. All the places I eat are all local and have what I consider really terrific food for casual meals out. especially for the size of our "little city".

                  I think we are seriously missing some fine dining, Chinese and good pizza. Luckily, I can do that at home.

                  1. re: sedimental

                    Oh, I never said anything about Bham being an Olive Garden town, and I don't think it is. We have different opinions about places; you've mentioned some that I put in the negative category, but you've also mentioned a few that I haven't tried, and will. I never go out to lunch, which makes a difference. It just doesn't work with my schedule. I love OWD (and Chris and Anna), but I see it as a place to shop and go to wine tastings; I never actually eat there. We just look for places to go to dinner. Dinner means bringing friends and conversing, and places like Man Pies, are not the right environment, although we do enjoy the pies. And like Neecies said somewhere, we'd like to have places that cook something better or different than we can cook at home. Very much miss Tivoli, and even Prospect. We do enjoy Soy House for dinner. And in a pinch, when we are really too exhausted to cook anything, I will even go for a schnitzel burger at Black Forest!

                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                      Yes, I eat out more for brunch, weekend lunch and happy hour times. I don't go out to restaurant dinners with friends too much (in town).

                      I agree that what you typically make at home makes a big difference (like me and my pizza:). I eat more "big food" when I go out- prime rib, pasta, panini, big sandwiches, whiskey crab soup, etc. I rarely make food that heavy at home, or at least not regularly.

                      I like soy house very much-but I cook vietnamese food weekly. I have stolen some of their pizza ideas though! Creative folks. I order eggplant dishes at pepper sisters, shrimp and grits at bayou, sometimes really great dishes in an otherwise average little place. That is what I mean by a ton of great food around here but it took me awhile to find them.

                      I agree that we are short on nice, relaxing, quiet dinner places that are a bit more upscale. Chuckanut manor is nice for that though. I have a quarterly business association dinner there and I always enjoy the food. Not real creative food, but always well executed and tasty. I like the environment there for conversation as well.

                      I also wish we had better burger/pub places. You can get decent burgers at many places, but not super creative fun food like at Quinn's, spur or burger lab, etc in Seattle. Our "pubs" tend to be loud and have average to good food. Not dinner worthy.

                      1. re: sedimental

                        Speaking of nice, relaxing, quiet dinner places that are a bit more upscale, has anyone been to Keenan's At the Pier (the old Fino location at The Chrysalis) ? We only know Fino from having brekkies there.

                        Or the Lighthouse Bar & Grill ? Again we only know the space for brekkies as hotel guests.

                        I guess there's always The Oyster Bar on the Chuckanut.

                        1. re: LotusRapper

                          I have not tried either of those places! I don't find myself in Fairhaven too much. My eating out choices are more spur of the moment. I tried a crepe place there last year. I thought it was awful. Maybe they are gone. I have eaten many a soup at colophon cafe in days past, but not recently. I always thought the rest of their food was meh, but the soups can be good.

                          I like the oyster bar, but haven't been in a long time.

                          1. re: sedimental

                            Had lunch at Colophon just once. Had a soup that tasted like canned tomatoes with raw onions--perfectly awful, and I've never been back!

                            1. re: Neecies

                              They've been in decline for years :-( I used to go there frequently for the peanut butter pie, and their African peanut soup is v. good. But their prices have crept up to shocking levels (for what you get) esp. in the past 5 years to the point where we stopped going altogether.

                              Which is too bad because we've always enjoyed the homey cozy basement and the warm service from the waitresses, whom are mostly students at WWU and we feel good about supporting their livelihood and education.

                              Interestingly, their menu (I still peek once awhile when walking into discount books section) now consists of red meat and some fish, whereas until very recently they only went as far as offering chicken and cheeses in terms of animal proteins. I guess the nearby competition has increased. Hopefully that will translate to better value and quality at Colophon.

                              1. re: LotusRapper

                                That is too bad about colophon. I remember that peanut soup! Honestly, I forget they exist.

                          2. re: LotusRapper

                            Have been dying to try Keenans. Love the room, or at least loved it as it used to be as Fino--food was often great, but it was spasmodic and you never knew from one time to the next because they couldn't seem to hold onto a chef long enough for the food to acquire an identity.

                            1. re: Neecies

                              http://www.urbanspoon.com/rph/88/1728...

                              What's nice is their happy hour spans 3-6pm, while dinner service starts at 4pm, which gives good opp to have cheap "dinners" of happy hour bits < 6pm:

                              http://www.thechrysalisinn.com/keenan...

                              1. re: LotusRapper

                                That looks really great. If someone gets there soon, do a write up! Let us know what works and what doesn't. I will likely go for happy hour but would be interested in what a regular dinner service is like.

                            2. re: LotusRapper

                              Keenan's is good but spendy. But at least now I feel like they are trying, in earnest, to put food out they can take pride in. That is kind of lacking in this town and I really appreciate the new attitude. I wish the space was cozier (ah, I miss Prospect Street too) but we can't have it all. The view is splendid!

                        2. re: sedimental

                          Hey I just copied and pasted your post and put it on my Google Docs, Sedimental. Hope that's ok :-) I need these places at a finger's touch away for quick reference when we're driving around with cranky hungry people in the backseat and I'm like: "I don't want to go to Skylark Cafe *again* !", LOL.

                          I don't remember good pizza pies at Mambo (pastas are ok), but Fairhaven Pizza Co. does some decent ones. BTW, as of 2 weeks ago when I started this thread, the new Fat Pie Pizza Co. is still not open. Word on FB is January:

                          https://www.facebook.com/fatpiepizza

                          D'Anna's have good pies ? La Fiamma is average but I wouldn't say stellar. What about that other place on N. State just north of the new traffic roundabout ?

                          1. re: LotusRapper

                            Well, I just can't find a pizza I really like in B'ham. I also have my own woodstone commercial pizza oven in my outdoor kitchen....so, I spoiled myself rotten with that little obsession ;)

                            I also really think Blue fin is great for sushi, the fountain is great for salads and lighter fare (good wine lists and they now infuse their own liquor for martini's too) and oddly enough the old north star restaurant and lounge (a dive) typically has a great prime rib dinner (done to perfection) but you have to endure the iceberg lettuce and ranch salad bar :)

                            I haven't been to agate bay in a long time, but they had a good breakfast menu and creative apps.

                            Avenue bread is good for a quick soup and sandwich too.

                            I have found that there are specific menu items some of these old places have, that are very chow worthy.

                            Like, mambo doesn't have great pizza, the pasta can be very good (not the red sauced ones), but the panini is really good.

                            1. re: sedimental

                              Hmm, maybe the better Bham pizzas are really at La Casa di Sedimental's ? ;-)

                              Avenue Bread is one of our standbys, I think their caesar salad is a homerun. Nice place to sit back and relax while kiddo is next door at the toy store. However I find the Fairhaven location's food much better than the one on James, across from TJ's.

                              I must be on the wrong vibes with Mount Bakery ... walked in once and they had nothing in the display case aside from some day-olds. The place didn't even "smell" of a bakery. Now I'm talking about the one on Harris, not the one on Champion which I've not been.

                              Blue Fin ... well they just can't compete with Vancouver's sushi and much lower prices, so we defer.

                              Bayou on Bay ..... yes that's still on the to-do list !

                              1. re: LotusRapper

                                Ha! Come on over :)

                                I have only been to the downtown mount bakery and really like it. But, I enjoy only the savory offers, I don't do baked sweets.

                                I totally agree about Vancouver sushi. But we have DO have a few places that hit the spot when in the middle of a sushi craving. That is something I have no interest at trying to make at home.

                                Lotus, can you recommend a few good Vancouver
                                sushi spots that are your favorite?

                                1. re: sedimental

                                  Re: Vancouver sushi. Try these threads:

                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9239...

                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9124...

                                  I think the Coles Notes version consists of these in city proper:

                                  - Miku ($$$
                                  )- Octopus Garden
                                  - Dan
                                  - Miko
                                  - Ajisai
                                  - Kibune
                                  - Kishimoto

                                  And in Richmond:

                                  http://www.tourismrichmond.com/restau...

                                  1. re: LotusRapper

                                    Thank you Mr. Rapper!
                                    I have been trying restaurants in Abottsford this past year. Not having much luck finding anything chow worthy or any "hidden gems" there :(

                                    Do you have any experience with the restaurants there? It is easy for me to get there and I grocery shop there quite a bit (my family is from Canada) for special foods I miss. But, I haven't found any great food in the restaurants. There has to be something fabulous I am missing out on!

                                    1. re: sedimental

                                      I got a foodie buddy in Abby ..... I'll pick his brain on what's chow-worthy out there.

                                      1. re: sedimental

                                        OK, my Abbotsford friend (his former food blog here:
                                        http://thefridaylunch.wordpress.com/

                                        )

                                        ..... had these to recommend for Abbotsford, and I quote him directly:

                                        "Shiva Sweets has the best damn Butter Chicken I've had.

                                        "Pretty good Bahn Mi at Pan-Asia Market.

                                        Vi-La Palace for decent Vietnamese.

                                        I've had incredible sushi at Sushiwa."

                                        1. re: LotusRapper

                                          Excellent! Thanks so much. I have gone to a few questionable Chinese places... and poutine at a semi-chain place. I know there is better!

                                    2. re: sedimental

                                      Maybe pizzas di Sedimental can become a feature at L.Nightshade's supper clubs :-)

                                      LN: sorry I haven't replied to your email yet ..... will do asap !

                                      1. re: LotusRapper

                                        Shoot. I was trying to copy a picture of my pizza, but it's not working.

                                  2. re: sedimental

                                    My east coast pizza snob tells La Fiamma he wants it DONE on top and bottom and is marginally happier with the pizza. Maybe some other folks could embrace his cheeky request. There is an improvement. But I eat gluten free, so my evaluation is purely visual. (Bottom line, though - we do pizza at home too. Even GF I can beat the pants off Bham bought pizza.)

                            2. re: sedimental

                              A ton? No. One or two that are passable. Most of the really good ones--where real chefs cook their hearts out to be their art on a table--are gone. Bellingham is an Olive Garden town, and it doesn't support true Food Art. We rarely eat out because there are so few place that cook anywhere close to the level I do at home. And btw, I've L. Nightshade's cooking, and it's true for her too!

                              1. re: Neecies

                                I think that I am not looking for "food art" at eating out most days. But you have a much higher bar for average priced 12 dollar menu items than I do!

                                I certainly appreciate high end or really quirky places, but I don't think many towns offer too many places like that. Maybe vegas. Napa used to offer more than a few, but not so much there anymore either. When I eat in a big city, I expect much more.

                                1. re: sedimental

                                  Sedimental, I'm not looking for "food art" at every meal. But I would love it if there were one place in Bellingham for that kind of dining experience, and there isn't. And I do have high standards for the rest of it--I would so love to be able to recommend restaurants unequivocally, without warning people not to order this, or only order that. I have lived in a lot of places and never been so hamstrung for dining options as I am here, especially now that I have more time and money to do such things.

                                  I'm impressed that you have a Wood/Stone! But speaking of pizza, I'm surprised that no one thinks well of La Fiamma. I actually do, though I only go there once every couple of years and order the same pizza every time. I've not had any better in Bham. I recently found Goat Mountain quite interesting, but you don't go there and order a whole pie with a view toward leftovers to take home.

                                  1. re: Neecies

                                    I am not a La Fiamma fan. I had bite of a goat mountain pizza and it was okay. I wouldn't go back to either.

                                    I certainly wish we had ( for example) a Tom Douglas restaurant here..or a place where most everything on the menu is terrific. I just think that is pretty rare outside of a big city. I eat in Portland a lot because I have family there, but I can't even say there is a place there that I think everything on the menu is good. I have had a few "meh" dishes at Pok Pok and it has a stellar rep. I also cook a lot of vietnamese food at home and I have a different sensibility for what I like on that front. Of course....I bought the cookbook ;)

                                    ...and I understand that "good" is a relative term. So, I get it when you say you are not finding what you are looking for. But I still think we have a ton of great places to eat around here, that is not Olive Garden quality.

                                    Edit: I rarely find casual restaurants that serve food as well as I can serve it at home. I tend to look for restaurant meals that I "wouldn't" cook at home. Not because of skill level, but because of other reasons ( usually health/fitness reasons actually). I go for heavier food when I eat out or am trying to carb up for a sport.
                                    Of course, that is not true at very high end restaurants. I go there and do the tasting menus and marvel at the skill level and techniques. So, for me, I don't really look for casual healthy artful food when I eat out. But I understand that others might want that.

                                    1. re: sedimental

                                      Good gawd! My spouse just brought home the leftovers of Fairhaven pizza. Two kinds...pepperoni and a veg "everything" type.

                                      It SUCKS. No...really. SUCKS. What is wrong here? The dough is thin but tasteless, the toppings are just freakin' " thrown" on it. Under seasoned. No sauce worth mentioning. No char. Yuck! No taste! I can't believe we don't have a tasty pizza place here. It's a travesty...I tell ya.

                                      1. re: sedimental

                                        You don't happen to be looking for a new business venture, do you? We could sure use a great pizza!

                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                          Ha! Maybe I should. The funny thing is, great pizza is not hard! But, you have to care about the dough. Really CARE about it. You have to ferment it -and give it time to develop its own flavor. It thInk that is a problem here.
                                          ...and, throw some sea salt in there...fergawdsakes. Veggies need salt to bring out their own unique flavors.

                                          Whaddaya think I can get.... 12 Bucks a pizza pie? Maybe I shouldn't quit my day job :/

                                          1. re: sedimental

                                            If you do it like this whole Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) certified trend that's out there (Vancouver is a latecomer):

                                            http://americas.pizzanapoletana.org/

                                            You can easily charge $15-25 each pie. Mind you, a proper wood-burning brick oven capable of reaching 800-900F would set you back 5 digits easy. Many of the key ingredients would have to be imported to be VPN-compliant. But hey, if some of you guys are joining forces, I could maybe be a fringe background stage hand :-)

                                          2. re: L.Nightshade

                                            Fat Pie Pizza is opening this month I believe. But something tells me it won't be all that authentic. Time will tell.

                            3. re: sedimental

                              Agreed! Jeckyl and Hide is not Deli. Sorry. They may call themselves that, but they're just a sandwich place with some barbecue. Weirdest pastrami sandwich I've ever had (SO not 'deli') with odd and rather unprofessional service. Unfortunately, kind of typically Hamster in that the food seems to naively lack any relationship to what the same food would be beyond our borders. Pastrami on a round soft bun with lettuce and tomato? Doesn't compute.

                              Old World Deli, however, IS a real deli. Christo finds the best products he can and turns them into delicious food. His Reuben's to die for.

                              1. re: Neecies

                                Thanks Neecies. Now you're scaring me ;-)

                                I love reubens. But I admit rather than standard rye, I prefer pumpernickel [ducks for impending shoes thrown at me]

                                1. re: LotusRapper

                                  I love pumpernickel too! The OWD doesn't use a standard seeded Jewish rye, it's more like a German rye--a larger loaf involving rye flour and other things, softer inside and crustier on the edges. Really terrific. And it's exactly that attention to detail that makes Christo so cool. Btw, the OWD is the only place in this town that you can buy Armandino Batali's salume. TO DIE FOR, if you've never indulged.

                                  1. re: Neecies

                                    I've also bought his salume at Quel Fromage. Don't know if they always/still carry it though. Agree on all fronts re the OWD. And they're such nice people. The wine tasting dinners there are a lot of fun too.
                                    Everyone is raving about the Reuben at the Local. I'm not an out-to-luncher, so I've never tried it. They don't serve it at dinner.

                                2. re: Neecies

                                  Old world deli is a favorite lunch spot...but I always walk out of there with "groceries", lol.

                          2. Has anyone tried the Philly cheesesteak sandwich truck yet? It is parked on the guide close to Cornwall park (opposite side of the street). I am curious but have not stopped yet.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: sedimental

                              I ought to slow down my driving ('tho it's an intrinsic BC thing) so I don't miss seeing food trucks.

                              I've been dying to try Bare Bones on Hannegan:

                              http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/88/161416...

                              1. re: LotusRapper

                                I had really appreciated Kushan brewery this summer. I love it that they have food trucks outside " for the brew drinkin' masses". Had the BEST hotdog with incredible things on it...onion, peppers, avocado, jalapeño cheeses...Lordy...a real low brow delight! Great with an amber brew. New appreciation for the food truck scene.
                                If you haven't been yet, they are on James, down a few blocks from Trader Joes, same side of the street. Very fun. New food trucks parked outside. Order a beer inside, then order the food from the truck and eat it there. Very nice.

                                1. re: sedimental

                                  Yes I've noted Kushan on numerous occasions (and always packed with people outside) .... they're just down from Coconut Kenny's. Great concept of the food trucks parked outside !

                                  1. re: LotusRapper

                                    Speaking of hot dogs, and somewhat off-topic, have you ever had a Japadog? We always make a point of having one when we're in Vancouver, and have even tried to do something similar at home. i'd love to see (or maybe even have!!) a Japadog franchise in Bham.

                                    The problem I have with Kulshan, which is the same problem I have with The Local, is that I don't drink beer. Kulshan has absolutely nothing to offer the non-beer drinker, except water. The Local has wines, but very bad wines.

                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                      Yes I've had many Japadogs. And while they are very good, I got somewhat tired of them. Ironically my faves aren't even dogs, since they are: shrimp tempura, tonkatsu, and the turkey sausage with kimchi.

                                      1. re: LotusRapper

                                        Ha! I could see tiring of them if you have them regularly! They're such a rare treat for us.

                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                          Actually I've had maybe 6 to 8 total, ever. Somehow I just lost interest in the novelty after that.

                                    2. re: LotusRapper

                                      Just went through and read this whole thread as we are likely to be hungry in B'ham on a Wed earlyish evening soon. Unless we're there before 6 and can try Old World Deli, thinking we'll hit up the StrEAT food truck at Kulshan's before crossing the border for home. The SO is a beer weasel, and I can drink water :-). Thanks for the tip!

                              2. OK, Mrs. and I are coming down for a TJ haul tomorrow morning. Would like to lunch somewhere before going home. Old World Deli is closed on Sundays :-/ Any suggestions ?

                                13 Replies
                                1. re: LotusRapper

                                  Have you tried The Local? They're open Sundays until 1pm. Their facebook page indicated kids are OK, if that is a concern. That's probably where I would go. I'm still curious to try La La Eatery, right next to TJ's but you're coming from Van, with far superior Vietnamese lunches, I'm certain.
                                  Cafe Rumba is also open on Sundays. I've never eaten there, just because I don't do lunch. But I've taken salsa lessons from the owner; he's very nice, and I've heard it's good.

                                  Links:
                                  https://www.facebook.com/TheLocalPubl...

                                  http://caferumbabham.com/

                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                    Thanks LN ! Great options to keep in mind. Perusing their offerings, Rumba appeals most. Latin American cuisine isn't our strong point, nor am I well versed. 'Tho Local's Andouille Gumbo look seriously good.

                                    Well let's hope either one of those work out for us.

                                    1. re: LotusRapper

                                      Curious to hear if you had lunch somewhere here, whether good or bad!

                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                        Thanks LN.

                                        Book Fare Cafe (Village Books) it was. Mrs. LR had a bunch of bottles to return to Drizzle, and plus picking up an item at The Toy Garden. Wait at Avenue Bread was long. Nice thing about Book Fare is they're licensed, so even with an express lunch she was able to have a glass of vino.

                                        I've always wondered that someone else could lease that space from Book Fare & VB in the evenings to run a tapas bar. Not many places with good views like theirs in Fairhaven, aside from AW Bistro and Cats.

                                        I'll have to save Rumba or Local for another time, maybe a solo run.

                                      2. re: LotusRapper

                                        Hey LR, I was looking back at threads on Mexican food in B'ham here and it looks like you haven't made it to Tadeo's yet. The one thread that mentions it from back in 2011 isn't very complimentary. We've been several times on the way and from to Portland and found it pretty solid, many times better than any Mexican in Vancouver. The tamales and accompanying sauce are worthy of bringing back a dozen to freeze. I much prefer the food here to La Gloria, FWIW.

                                        1. re: grayelf

                                          Hey GE. Thanks for the reminder. I admit I forgot about them, which is ironic since I know/remember that store space used to be a cute little gelato place years ago where I've been. Plus we drive down Holly all the time. Not to sound whiney, it's that every time we're down and I'm hankering for some Mexican/Latin, my agenda is out-voted.

                                          And since I've not been to La Gloria yet neither, it'd be even better for me to try both and compare.

                                      3. re: L.Nightshade

                                        We just tried the Local for dinner. We won't be back for dinner again. I might try their beer and snack at happy hour. Another place likely short lived. I will give them a year (unless they change the menu and seating). They are trying to be hipster and trendy, but serving cliche food. Cliche food is fine if it is well executed....this is not. Community seating is clearly not popular, everyone was crowded on the individual seating side or sitting far away from each other by the wall. I hope they get the subtle hint! The two of us sat at the 4top by the door. It was cold with the door opening....but better than sitting with the birthday party of 12 on the other side of the room.

                                        I couldn't find much on the dinner menu that I don't make at home on a weeknight for dinner. I was told the green salad was enough for two, it was not, it was a typical single size. Lots of pear items on the menu (winter) however, the cook should have tasted them as they had no flavor. Our shared pear, Roquefort, candied nut salad was standard mixed greens, covered in an oil containing bacon grease (not a good idea) with no acid component...just oil....thin sliced raw tasteless pear (about 5 thin slices) underneath the greens were a few small cheese crumbles and a few pieces of nuts. It was terrible.

                                        I ordered the special pork tenderloin, pear and sage polenta. I got (maybe 5 small) perfectly cooked tenderloin medallions, tasteless pear again on top ...and a "smear" like 3 tablespoons of polenta underneath the meat. Seriously, if I didn't order a salad "appetizer" for 9 bucks.......I would have had just sliced meat for dinner.

                                        My spouse ordered curry fish and chips. The fish was fresh! Very nice fish, to bad they coated it in a flavorless batter and cooked it too long. Minimal curry flavored batter. The chips were terrible. Trying to be trendy by leaving some skin on....didn't cut it. Under seasoned and served with a dill mayo sauce. We left them on the plate.

                                        My spouse asked if I wanted dessert...I said "yeah, a cheese burger".

                                        I will go back to places and try different items to see if there is anything they do well. So, I will go back to the Local. I would like to try their charcuterie plate and pork belly taco paired with one of their beers. They might do that correctly. They need to lose the precious dinner plates. They are not to up to the appropriate skill level to pull it off. Brew pubs need to focus on a few really great comforty signature dishes people can count on, IMO. If they want to be a restaurant, then they need to lose the bar and provide individual table seating so you can dine with the person you intended to. It really is not a surprise why these new places are not doing well and the older place are still packed. It seems like they forget the basics.

                                        1. re: sedimental

                                          That sounds pretty sad. I actually didn't even know they served "dinners," I thought it was all small plate offerings. One thing I will say about our experiences there, is that it can be uneven. We went one night when the chef/owner wasn't there cooking and we felt the food suffered. Also, from what I've heard, lunch is their best meal.

                                          I have to say, we end up there because, well, where else? The Copper Hog has gone downhill. And we totally disagree on Bobs B&B, which we've given many, many chances because we end up right near them, but I think their food is awful.

                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                            We went back to the Local last night, pretty early actually; it seemed like it should have been happy hour. Their menu is different, without the variety of small plates they used to offer, just dinner dishes. No specials last night. I had the calamari in romesco over risotto, topped with spicy microgreens. Mr. NS had the pork belly with red cabbage and a polenta cake. We shared, of course, and he liked both dishes. I thought mine was lacking, but I'm a romesco snob. Also a risotto snob. His was pretty good; the cabbage was somewhat sweet, almost mapley. And the pork belly was tasty and not excessively salty. The dishes were actually about the size of some of the former dishes they called small plates, but satisfying and reasonably priced. It's still a beer drinker's spot. Wine is meh, and the one I chose I thought was pretty overpriced.

                                             
                                             
                                      4. re: LotusRapper

                                        I don't know what kind of lunch food you are looking for, but have you tried Bob's Burger and Brew? They are our very own local franchise, Bob still opens them. Each location is a bit different though. The downtown one has the best beef burgers. They serve classic American food-burgers, chicken burgers, sandwiches/wraps, main dish salads and all kinds of snack/bar food. Not healthy, but they are very good at their genre. Heads and shoulders above red robin, Billy McHales, TGIF Friday and the national chains providing this kind of food.

                                        You mentioned you didn't care for Latino food. But if you like Baja or SoCal versions, then Diego's on Sammish puts out fantastic fish burrito's. Really great ones, they nail it, we split them in half because they are so big. Baja or CA coastal Latin inspired foods are not the same as Mexican so you might like it if you haven't tried it before. I have not tried the other dishes there, my entire office orders fish burrito's to split.....and they don't allow substitutions! Lol.

                                        1. re: sedimental

                                          Yup, quite familiar with Bob's. But frankly I've been shying away from them this past two years in order to give my waistline a fighting chance :-/ (thank God for stretchy jeans).

                                          Just out of curiosity, how does La Fiamma's burger and Little Cheerful's burger compare to each other and to Bob's ? Seeing they're tete-a-tete on Railroad & Holly, I'd assume they'd be staying on top of their game.

                                          I actually LIKE Latino foods, but I don't think I'd pay > $20pp for 'em. But in as far as street foods go, I'm all for it whether it's authentic, Baja, SoCal etc. Not really into Tex-Mex, 'tho. At any rate, Diego's, Gloria's, that truck on the Guide by the golf store are all on my list. In that respect, B'ham kicks Vancouver's hiney for better quality and more options.

                                          1. re: LotusRapper

                                            Yes, understandable!

                                            I have not been to the other places for burgers. Burgers are funny. I was at a training In Seattle yesterday. Had a 20 dollar burger at an expensive "bar and grille". It kinda sucked. I think a Bob's burger was more satisfying. This 20 dollar burger was served on a brioche that was too sweet
                                            (distracting to me ) was cooked medium rare but lacked seasoning and grilled flavor. The fries were worth every penny however :) so, for half the price of an esoteric gourmet burger, Bob's is a good value.

                                            If you like American Mexican foods, B'ham is certainly a haven for that kind of food. I love those foods. I rarely cook them at home and prefer to cook more esoteric culturally interesting foods from Columbia, Venezuela, etc. when I cook Latin, but, I love a good American nacho platter! Wow. Yes. Need to indulge when I have the calories to spare.

                                            1. re: sedimental

                                              Yup even it if has Velveeta, a big pile-'em-up nacho platter with sour cream, guac, green onions, red peppers and lots of ground beef, it's all good.

                                              I too would prefer more authentic Central/S. American cuisines than dumbed-down A-Mex versions. I blame myself for not taking more effort to educate and seek those outlets, but partially because we have a dearth of those groups and restos. And when south of the border, as much as I want to seek those restos, we somehow inevitably end up eating other cuisines.

                                      5. After my crappy dinner at the Local, I walked by the Table (pasta) on the corner by the Mt Baker theater. It was jammed full of people, very busy for a Thursday night, the plates of food looked good (yes, I peered through the window:) and everyone looked happy.

                                        Has anyone been there for dinner?

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: sedimental

                                          We've eaten there several times. It's always packed when there's a show at Mount Baker theater, because, once again, the options are nearly nonexistent. I would say meh. Their pasta dishes can be OK, but we are with pasta like you are with pizza: we make our own routinely, and why order it when you can do it better? Beyond pasta dishes, they're just not up to it. But if you want to go out for pasta, it's worth a try.

                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                            We don't eat lots of pasta when eating out neither. Just curious how you'd rank D'Anna's ?

                                            1. re: LotusRapper

                                              We used to eat at D'Anna's nearly every week, and liked it quite a bit. The last 4-5 times we've been (we don't give up easily) it has gone downhill, critically downhill. Everything has been very greasy, and not very well cooked or seasoned. And I don't just think it's me being critical, as our fellow diners have held the same opinion.

                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                Thanks, 'cuz that's one of the places on my list (and there are lots, incl. Giuseppe's). Change of kitchen staff, maybe ?

                                                1. re: LotusRapper

                                                  I think change of staff is probably right on target.

                                                  We have only been to Giuseppe's once, and it was right after we returned from cooking school in Italy, so the bar was set pretty high. I have to say, we were pleasantly surprised. I don't particularly like the environment, it's quite a big, theme-decor type place, but both the food and the service were quite good.

                                                2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                  I have not been for quite a while (d' Anna's).They used to be have some really great dishes. I hope they get it together again :/

                                          2. Some of you might be interested in the deal that the Fountain has, if you don't already know.

                                            Happy hour dinner, "3 for 15" menu offered on Sundays, Monday and Tuesday (I think) between 3 and 5. Pick an app, main and dessert (3) of the special menu ($15). Wine is also 2 dollars off *per glass*.....allowing for a nice glass for 6 bucks......great value all around. The mains are smaller portions than on the regular menu, the apps are regular sized, I think, and desserts are large.

                                            The app choices are crocks of soup with bread, different types of salads, croquettes. The mains are things like duck or pork sliders and fries, various tacos/ squash tacos, stroganoff. Desserts are things like butter cake, bread pudding.

                                            I went with a few people and we all chose the crock of soup with bread (choices were bean and kale or tomato coconut bisque). I chose the beef stroganoff (which is really good) my friend had the squash taco and side of beans and cheese (she liked it but didn't rave) and another had the duck slider (really good, but tiny). The bread pudding is very good.

                                            Nice atmosphere, clean, cheerful, bright. I frequent the Fountain around happy hour for business meetings. The noise level is just right for privacy -quiet but not so quiet that everyone is listening. They have a few booths too.

                                            1. I just got back from the seafood buffet dinner at Chuckanut manor. I usually go for brunch buffet. Very good, ate my body weight in mussel, oyster and crab. Stayed the night, if you don't know, you can rent the room above the manor.

                                              They are having a 5 course wine dinner on Feb 10th. Spanish/ Iberian themed, with Cougar Crest wines. Tyler Hansen is coming back to chef for this one. Should be tasty. 110 per plate, I think. Decent price and should be fun.

                                              11 Replies
                                              1. re: sedimental

                                                I've been running into events like this lately. Things that we might be interested in attending, but scheduled on weeknights. Monday night? I usually work a 10 hour day on Mondays, and have to get up and do it again on Tuesday. For whom are these events tailored? I don't think they're practical for most working people.

                                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                  Most event dinners I attend are Monday through Thursday.

                                                  They are tailored for people that don't work for other people.

                                                  I see many of the same faces from the private practice professional industries of legal, finance, medical, and a sprinkling of small business owners from industries that support them (like real estate, accounting, insurance).

                                                  These are also the same folks that are always out at Happy Hour. It is a way of doing business, in a way. I know I will see several people I do business with at every event.

                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                    Well. It's too bad. Some of us in the working class would like to indulge in the occasional event dinner also.

                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                      I think the restaurant knows that these folks have the time and money enough to fill up their designated spot in the restaurant. They don't have to close off a part of the restaurant on a busy weekend. They make more money this way.

                                                    2. re: sedimental

                                                      Note to self: don't consult realtors, accountants, lawyers, insurance brokers, doctors, financial advisors in Bellingham AFTER happy hour ;-) ;-)

                                                      1. re: LotusRapper

                                                        Hahahaha! No kidding!

                                                        Happy hour is a very popular time here in the 'Ham!

                                                        Luckily, no one returns to work after happy hour :)

                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                          For sure, your weekday HH offerings seem cheap and plentiful, I always envy the HH menus since we're there on weekends only.

                                                          1. re: LotusRapper

                                                            I recently found this list of happy hours in Bellingham, a few of them say "daily." I don't have experience or recommendations however.
                                                            I'm a bit mystified by those few that offer happy hour ending at 5pm on weekdays; seems like they should start at 5pm!

                                                            http://www.bellinghamhappyhours.com/H...

                                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                              Excellent, thanks LN !

                                                              My understanding is HH ties up the quieter period between lunch and dinner service. Hence the cheaper prices, smaller offerings (to go with drinks etc) and quite possibly to use up un-used excess ingredients leftover from the lunch service (I could be wrong). That would then peg the HH period generally between 3-6pm, and not overlap into dinner service for profit reasons. YMMV of course.

                                                              1. re: LotusRapper

                                                                Yes, and business people want to meet each other between 3 and 5, not for dinner. I have my staff meeting at 3:30 during HH and I meet other people at 4:00 for a HH last appointment of the day. We end at 5 so we can go home.

                                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                                  It's a funny system, and I understand why a restaurant would want to fill in a slow period. In the more urban areas I've lived it was what people did after work. The best happy hours could be found downtown/financial district where most people got off work at 5pm. Of course dinner is much later in those urban areas too.

                                                  1. We're gonna be spending a good portion of this coming Sat/Sun in the Merdian 'hood.

                                                    So I'm looking for ideas for Sat lunch, dinner and Sunday lunch, as we're trying to "branch out" and not do the habitual places in Fairhaven ;-)

                                                    Any reccs for good eatin' up thataway ? Just brainstorming ......

                                                    - Sat downtown farmers market .... opened yet ? Any new/different vendors ?

                                                    - La Gloria Market I've not been, so could be a good lunch spot.

                                                    - That E. Indian place off of Kellogg/Cordata seems long gone, replaced by a Cali/Baja taco place .... any good ?

                                                    - we could do the original Soy House (never been), but my recent experience at their new location on Holly left me feeling kinda meh. Is the original location still inspired ?

                                                    - How is Mykono's at Bakerview/I-5 ?

                                                    - Anyone eaten at strEAT Foods (Alask. ferry terminal) ?

                                                    I hope to zip down to Edison on Sunday and hit Breadfarm, a place I've heard about for awhile now. Maybe they'd be a better lunch spot than other B'ham options ?

                                                    22 Replies
                                                      1. re: LotusRapper

                                                        Haven't discovered any new spots myself, so no help there. Never found Soy House "inspired"--like almost everything else ethnic in Bham, it's a little plainer than it's true ethnic cousins, but the restaurant is well and cheerfully decorated and very clean--that counts for a lot with me, so we've been back often. Bob ate a lot of biz lunches at Mykonos and calls it strictly average. We've never been there together because it's not a place he'd look forward to going back to on his own time. Highly recommended new vendor at the FM: Skagit Valley Cured Meats.

                                                        1. re: Neecies

                                                          Thx Neecies for heads-up on SV Cured Meats, will def. check 'em out if we're at BFM.

                                                          1. re: LotusRapper

                                                            The owner/charcuterie maker (who is also selling it himself at the BFM) is a staunch believer in organic/natural, and he was also the original chef at Cassoulet btw. He stayed in the area, and Charcuterie's his life's dream--what he's doing is outstanding.

                                                            1. re: Neecies

                                                              I had a great discovery there - do you know the owner gives you free leaf lard if you ask for it with your purchase? I was astonished to find a 16 oz sized tub of pastured pork lard handed to me with my sausages. That guy is RAD.

                                                        2. re: LotusRapper

                                                          I'd pass on the Cali-Mex place on Cordata. Lovely lady running it but just not up to par in March. Tadeo's is orders of magnitude better, though not I think all that near Meridian.

                                                          1. re: grayelf

                                                            Thanks GE :-) Your word is good 'nuff for me.

                                                            Tadeo's ..... never been there either, but we're in downtown often 'nuff for me to at least poke my head in. We should be at the BFM so I'll just be a couple of blocks away.

                                                            1. re: grayelf

                                                              I've not tried Tadeo's, but you got me at 'tamale'. Oh how I love a good tamale.

                                                            2. re: LotusRapper

                                                              Can't recommend Mykonos. We haven't been impressed, but you know...the vegetarian thing. The Cali Taco resto used to be a very popular taco truck in town. People loved the truck, mostly for their various meat tacos. We've gotten some good food there. Tadeos was a total bust for us. Went once, never went back. By far your best bet is Mi Casa, near the now defunct Sehome Cinemas on the south side, or La Gloria for you carnivores. Ate at Mi Casa this week and it was as great as always. Always fresh, always tasty!

                                                              By bro-in-law was in town and went to the original Soy House this week, one of our former favorites. He hated it. We haven't bothered to go back since they opened the new DT location. Word is the family is MIA, and the quality is in the dumper. It makes me beyond sad.

                                                              Farmers Market, always good eats available. Mulu makes very tasty Ethiopian food. Nearby is Man Pies. Limited menu, but good food.

                                                              I've eaten from the strEAT Food truck, but not from the ferry terminal cafe. They would probably be open in the terminal on Saturday, since I'm pretty sure the ferry is in that day. They haven't always been open on non-ferry traffic days. Check their Facebook for schedule.

                                                              My SO says there is some surprisingly good Indian food in the mall, if you're ever stuck running errands there. Haven't eaten there myself.

                                                              Some people seem smitten with The Local, downtown, but not good for your kiddo.

                                                              A new place opened up in the former Cassoulet location. Haven't been there, but there was this story in The Herald: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/....

                                                              Downtown has a few new(ish) options. Haven't tried any of them yet: Leaf & Ladle (on FB) and 250 Flora http://www.250flora.com/. Or, the Peruvian place on State St, across from the Herald building. But if you're going for a sandwich, Old World Deli is the way to go.

                                                              PS: With our first college tuition payment due only months away, we really don't spend much $$$ eating out these days. Priorities! The next four years will be lean ones. Tuition is insane!

                                                              1. re: laurachow

                                                                Thanks Laura, as always your insights are much appreciated.

                                                                Will re-think Tadeo's then. Actually Mi Casa might work since I wanted to go to REI anyway to check out any specials that might be on.

                                                                Wow, something seems quite wrong with Soy House. The story will bound to surface, good or bad.

                                                                Will do our best to hit OWD. And Peruvian sounds good too, there aren't really any up here (that I know of) and despite being quite ignorant of the nuances of Latino cuisines, I hope they're not serving up Gringo stuff.

                                                                Infusion .... neat concept, hopefully the execution and originality is there. 'Tho I could envision some soft tacos filled with some spicy kung pao chicken, cilantro and some mild buffalo bocconcini ...... ;-)

                                                                1. re: LotusRapper

                                                                  We had kind of a bad meal with weird service at Mi Casa and one of the salsas had gone off. I thought La Gloria was okay but not stellar (we went twice). We've been to Tadeo's three times now and really enjoyed it. The tamales are especially good -- we've brought them back as well to freeze. Different strokes, I guess.

                                                                  The Peruvian place looks promising, and we do only have two, one on Broadway and the other in darkest Bby LR (the other recently burned down).

                                                                  1. re: grayelf

                                                                    One is near Burnaby General Hospital, right ? Is that the one that burned down ?

                                                                    The other is where The Lazy Gourmet was, correct ? Or somewhere in that area where Que Pasa's factory used to be.

                                                                    1. re: LotusRapper

                                                                      Mochika burned down. It was on Pine

                                                                      1. re: grayelf

                                                                        Oh wow eh.

                                                                        Just realized the new Chica in Mt. Pleasant is supposedly Peruvian. Me and a couple buds were planning to check them out one late evening, after all our respective kids have hit beddy-bye.

                                                                        The one in Burnaby is called El Inka Deli:

                                                                        http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/143329...

                                                                    2. re: grayelf

                                                                      We might give Tadeo's one more chance. It was fairly soon after they opened when we went and were entirely underwhelmed with the quality of the food, including the tamales. Meh.

                                                                      I have never heard a bad word before about Mi Casa. The owner is lovely, and an awesome cook (and if you speak any Spanish, she is so happy to chat with you--no matter how rusty your Spanish may be!). Her hubby can be a bit odd, but he is very motivated to make the business a success and providing a top notch experience for their customers. The ingredients are fresh and prepared to order. It is not the typical Bellingham Mexican resto with huge magaritas and food covered with an inch of cheese (thanks goodness).

                                                                      1. re: laurachow

                                                                        I love Mi Casa! I have never had a bad meal there. They have a great business, fast service and always friendly.

                                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                                          We must have hit them on a bad day, although the weird service was from the husband. Nothing was really outstanding and a couple of dishes were pretty meh. Based on what I'd read online, I was hoping for the experience you describe, laurachow (don't drink margaritas and the only cheese in a Mex resto should be cotija!) but alas no. And there were five of us, so we did manage to sample a reasonable swath.

                                                                  2. re: laurachow

                                                                    Infusion Cuisine? Hate the concept--my experience is that restaurants that try to do everything do no one thing exceptionally well. It's trying overly hard to please--it's a place to get fed, but not a destination restaurant.

                                                                    1. re: Neecies

                                                                      Like a mini food court. Glad to see "sushi" not on their menu !

                                                                      But who knows, maybe this guy's got something going there, so he deserves people to keep an "open plate" before giving patronage and judgement. As long as he's not as bad as A&W Bistro in Fairhaven [shudders]

                                                                      1. re: LotusRapper

                                                                        LotusRapper, there's fusion--where talented people blend concepts, like French technique with Asian ingredients, say, to come up with a shitake quenelle, let's say, and then there's serving spaghetti, enchiladas and rice bowls in the same restaurant because there aren't many restaurants in the neighborhood and you want to please everybody. The BH article indicated this owner is of the latter stripe. I've never seen it work, so I'm initially suspicious.

                                                                        1. re: Neecies

                                                                          Yeah, and only time will tell if it works out. Then again, it all depends on who goes there to eat, what their expectations are, and what the price points are I s'ppose.

                                                                          Looks homey cozy, food looks honest, menu prices a tad high:

                                                                          https://www.facebook.com/pages/Infusi...

                                                                2. If you haven't gone to Old World Deli you really gotta try it.

                                                                  If I could have one Bellingham place down in Seattle it would be OWD hands down.

                                                                  Quel Fromage is also a really good cheese shop, and when I lived there 2 years ago the prices were way lower than cheese shops in Seattle, like 30-50% less. The lady who owns is is knowledgeable too.

                                                                  I miss Breadfarm, damn their bread is epic, especially when compared to the mediocrity of Avenue Bread.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                    Just an FYI, Quel Fromage is now called "Perfectly Paired." They still have cheese, but other things too, and some beer and wine.

                                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                      Oh, thanks for the heads up, now I really need to get back up there. They always had some interesting non-cheese products. Can you fill a growler there?

                                                                      1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                        I'm pretty sure it's just bottles, but not a beer drinker, so it wouldn't have been on my radar.