EAT Restaurant: Classically crafted

The Aarons enjoy their final Stuff Yer Face together, toasting at the new EAT Restaurant. It’s the end of an era, we’ll miss you Apple! PHOTO BY RYAN RUSSELL

by Aaron Apple and Aaron Kayser

photo by Ryan Russell

It is with mixed feelings to report that this will be our very last food review. After serving the Bellingham and greater Whatcom and Skagit community for over five years, we (Aaron Apple and Aaron Kayser) are finally requesting “Mmm, check please.” We would like to thank everyone in the food service industry for all of their hard work, to those who have enjoyed our column, and to Brent and What’s Up! Magazine for allowing us the wonderful opportunity to share our regional culinary experiences. It has been a tasty adventure for sure, and Apple looks forward to devouring the Big Apple as he moves to NYC in April!

In the spirit of celebration, our final review finds us at the newly opened EAT Restaurant and Bar in downtown Bellingham. Located at the corner of Cornwall and Chestnut (previously I and Wife Thai Cuisine and the Shrimp Shack), EAT brings a local Pacific Northwest farm-to-table ethic with a strong French influence. Luckily, Apple made dinner reservations online, which we would also recommend, as the restaurant was packed! And after our experience, it’s no wonder it’s busy – Apple has been there four separate occasions at the time of this writing.

The restaurant has a classy contemporary atmosphere, with two separate dining areas and a large bar. Dim, ambient lighting fills the restaurant with a romantic glow, casting playful shadows amongst the racks of wine and colorfully decorated walls. After being seated, our waitress was friendly and attentive, and provided a listing of the daily specials, one of which we had to order.

We began the evening with an order of the Spiced Chicken Lollipops ($7) and the classic French escargot provencal ($15, special). The Lollipops (chicken wings) were served in a small, cast iron pan, and were coated in a tangy red wine sauce. While we thought the wings should have come out much warmer than they were in terms of temperature, they were tender and flavorful – no blue cheese dressing or Frank’s hot sauce required. The escargot provencal was beautifully plated with a brioche bowl that was filled with a petite salad, and topped with snails without shells. Also on the plate was a smear of a garlic, butter, and basil paste, delicately placed roasted carrots, and some crusty French baguette. The chewy snails had very little flavor on their own but made for a great bite with some of the paste and baguette. Classic French flavors in Bellingham!

Kayser ordered the Duck Confit Cassoulet ($19) and a glass of Portillo Mendoza Malbec ($6) from Argentina to pair. The cassoulet consisted of crispy duck confit, Toulouse sausage, and juicy braised pork shoulder, all nestled in a bowl of cannellini beans and herbs with a drizzle of oil. The combination of all three meats and beans made for a perfect, savory bite. While the dish was hearty, it was also well-balanced and not too heavy, and well worth the price – it is one of the spendier items on the menu.

Apple decided to go with something a little more down-to-earth. He chose the pressed burger with truffle sea salt fries ($13) and per the server’s recommendation, ordered it with American cheese. She said that was the way the lead chef liked it prepared for himself, and I was glad I trusted her. The burger was served cut in half with the flat ends propping it up straight, between a side of barbecue sauce and a basket of truffle fries. The burger was simple and completely delicious – basically a perfect grilled cheese with a slab of beef. The truffle fries had tons of flavor on their own, but even more when dipped into the saffron aioli that he ordered on the side.

Our experience at EAT was a perfect last supper. It was a culmination of the great bounty that our community provides, meticulously crafted into an elegant and delightful meal. Whether making a new acquaintance over craft cocktails, or rekindling friendships over delectably refined lunch, dinner, or brunch, EAT has something for everyone. As mentioned above, just be sure to make reservations as it will most likely be busy, and deservedly so.

EAT Restaurant and Bar is located at 1200 Cornwall Avenue. Lunch hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Dinner is 4-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to close (late) Friday and Saturday. Brunch is available 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Call (360) 306-3917 or visit online at www.4u2eat.com.