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Winter comfort: Local spots to eat, drink and be cozy

Jan 3rd, 2015 | Category: Food

by Jessamyn Tuttle

On a dark, rainy day, or one of those bitter evenings when cold wind whips through your coat, there’s nothing better than hunkering down in a cozy café or restaurant with a pot of tea, a bowl of soup, a pint of beer or a big slice of pie. A glowing fireplace and upholstered furniture are hard to beat, but I also enjoy big windows that show you just how hard it’s raining outside and make you extra glad to be in the dry.

For many people a warm coffeehouse is the ultimate cold day haven. There’s no shortage of coffeeshops in this area, and everyone has their favorite, but I love getting a latte at Book Fare, upstairs in Village Books, and settling into a window seat with a good read. Another surprisingly nice place in a very unlikely spot is North Cove coffee, which shares a building with Warren Jewelers on the main commercial drag in Burlington. They have comfortable furniture for relaxing or cuddling by a water feature.

Clam chowder at the Porterhouse Pub in Mount Vernon (above) and candelight at A’town Bistro in Anacortes (below). PHOTOS BY JESSAMYN TUTTLE

Clam chowder at the Porterhouse Pub in Mount Vernon (above) and candelight at A’town Bistro in Anacortes (below). PHOTOS BY JESSAMYN TUTTLE

My own favorite hibernation destination is the Empire Alehouse in downtown Mount Vernon, which is not quite the cozy burrow it used to be since the dining area expanded into the neighboring space, but the addition of a gas fireplace makes me feel like I never want to leave. One block away is the Porterhouse Pub, with big windows looking towards the river. Both pubs feature huge tap lists so you can always find a brew for your mood, and the Porterhouse makes an amazing clam chowder that is guaranteed to take the chill off.

Speaking of chowder, sometimes the most comforting thing in the world is a bowl of hot soup. Rock and Rye makes a mushroom and squash soup that is perfect: a little sweet, a little savory, not too rich. Their seafood chowder with shiitake mushrooms is far more filling, but both are deeply warming. Another great option is the gumbo at Bayou on Bay, so thick you can stand a spoon up in it. Brandywine Kitchen has several delicious sandwiches and options on the menu, and reading the scraps of wisdom tucked into the brick walls by patrons is always fun. A’town Bistro, a charming place in downtown Anacortes, makes a killer French onion soup, and Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse in Snohomish is famous for its lobster bisque. But for the ultimate comfort food, head to N. State Street in Bellingham to try the Green Frog’s menu of grilled cheese sandwiches, with crispy fried cheese spilling out on all sides, served with classic tomato soup. Down the street, pull up a seat at the cozy bar or take a table by the windows at the Copper Hog and look over the food and drink options. Over on Railroad Ave., The Local offers a selection of local brews and food, but their weekend brunch is especially charming. Try their house-made sausage on the rosemary biscuit sandwich. Yummy. candlelight at A'Town Bistro by Jessamyn Tuttle web

In LaConner, new arrival Anelia’s Kitchen & Stage has a Polish menu that includes wonderful pierogi dumplings and other great cold-weather dishes like lazanki, a rich plate of noodles with cabbage, cream and dill. Across the street, Nell Thorn has settled into their new building on the channel, creating both cozy pub seating and a fancier dining room, while their old hobbit-hole space on the hill has been taken over by Oyster and Thistle.

For hunkering down with a cocktail, the Temple Bar is a favorite, or the warm wood and brick of The Real McCoy, but you like a water view with your happy hour there’s the lounge at the Lighthouse Bar & Grill (if you’re lucky you can grab one of the tables by the fireplace) or a sunset-view table at Chuckanut Manor, perched above Samish Bay.

Il Granaio in Mount Vernon is a warm atmosphere serving authentic Italian with a full bar and wine list.

Order yourself a warm drink and sandwich or cheese plate at the Appel Farms Cheese Store on Northwest Road in Ferndale and cozy up to the fireplace.

If chili fries are your thing, try the Cha-Cha-Chili Fries at the new Shambala Ancient Grain Bakery and Farm Fresh Bistro in Sedro-Woolley.

The Calico Cupboard, a small Skagit group of bakeries that serve breakfast, all have lots of warm wood and a baked goods case that overflows with huge apple dumplings and cream pies. The closest one to me in Mount Vernon has a fun mix of mismatched chairs and cushions, plus a fireplace. Their sister restaurant in LaConner, Seeds, carries the same baked goods but is open for lunch and dinner, including a truly excellent macaroni and cheese made with Cougar Gold.

The Lighthouse Bar and Grill lounge. PHOTO BY JESSAMYN TUTTLE

The Lighthouse Bar and Grill lounge. PHOTO BY JESSAMYN TUTTLE

For a bite of something sweet, Pure Bliss has cupcakes to cheesecakes and everything in between, with a list of wines and drinks. The curtains and mirrors create a fun teahouse ambience. The Lynden Dutch Bakery has delicious soups, pies and baked goods.

What’s a cold winter day without hot chocolate? Mount Bakery has your fix (get yourself a house pastry or slice of cake with it), or try their Moliere mocha, served with Belgian chocolate ganache.


 Published in the January 2015 issue of Grow Northwest



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