This month, we’re celebrating clean eats and comfort foods – because January. Whatever route you choose, you can be sure deliciousness abounds in both.
Baby, it’s cold outside. And since it’s going to stay that way for a few more months, these picks will get you through deep winter by warming you up from the inside out. Discover where to feast on carbs + comfort foods in the Pacific Northwest this winter.
Local 360 Café & Bar, Seattle, Washington
Local 360’s mandate is clear: to source the majority of its ingredients from within 360 miles of Seattle and to get back to a simpler, better way of cooking. “Our take on comfort food isn’t too modern,” chef Stew explains. “We’re more about what’s best rather than what’s new or innovative.” To that end, they offer comfort classics like fried chicken and waffles, where the meat (a skin-on chicken thigh, “God’s gift to fried chicken!” exclaims Chef Stew) is double-dredged and fried, and also apple fritters, which are basically fried, fruit-filled dumplings served with vanilla ice cream and bacon brittle. (Behind-the-scenes info alert: when Local 360 replaced the fritters with another apple dish chef Stew wanted to try out, the restaurant was inundated with phone calls and emails begging for the classic dish to be returned to the menu.) Vegetarians craving comfort food should opt for the Mushroom Bolognese, which features ground up portobello and shiitake mushrooms cooked with tomato paste and milk, which is the traditional method of achieving a thick, creamy sauce. Make a reservation at Local 360 Café & Bar.
Stonesedge Kitchen, Whistler, British Columbia
For chef Erin Stone, comfort food is about memories. Her versions, however, don’t quite resemble grandma’s take. Sure, there’s mac ‘n’ cheese on the menu, but Stone’s version includes roast duck — as does the filling shepherd’s pie. Craving something starchy? Then you need the Chicken Meatball Bowl with rice and coconut curry broth or the Woodsman Bowl (on the breakfast menu) which features arugula, squash, shredded venison, and poached eggs. “People are often too busy to cook these days,” Stone says. “But everyone needs something homey and comforting in winter.” Make a reservation at Stonesedge Kitchen.
Bell + Whete, Seattle, Washington
The thing not to miss at this Seattle gastro pub: the eggs benedict served on house-made English muffins. “Most people believe the baguette is the best example of ‘perfect’ bread,” explains chef Jenny. “But it’s actually the English muffin.” And hers are made with dough that has plenty of air bubbles, which result in cavernous nooks and crannies. Also a treat: her cinnamon-and-sugar-dipped sour cream donuts, which are fried to order and have a crispy exterior but a soft center. At dinner, don’t pass up the Belgian fries, which are fried in wagyu beef fat to give them a buttery taste without adding butter. PS: You’re welcome. Make a reservation at Bell + Whete.
Golden Beetle, Seattle, Washington
Chef Maria Hines is famous among adults for competing on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters, but she’s loved by kids for having a Mac ‘n’ Cheese Mondays, where they — and actually anyone — can design their own version. Start by picking a pasta (gluten-free or regular), add in a béchamel sauce (roasted garlic or spicy harissa are options), and complete with cheese (white cheddar? Smoked gouda? Check and check!). Include some bacon or lamb sausage and have it baked in the kitchen until the panko crust is crispy. Pro tip: This is the staff’s favorite night to work — so you know it’s extra good. Bonus: Chef Hines’ sister restaurant Tilth, serves up a waffle made from 100% sourdough (the sourdough “mother” was actually started a few years ago and is used in all their breads) accompanied by maple whipped cream and candied pecans. Make a reservation at Golden Beetle.
21 Steps Kitchen + Bar, Whistler, British Columbia
After bombing down some black diamonds and riding the Peak 2 Peak gondola between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, glide right into 21 Steps for comfort food classics, West Coast-style. Small plates include portobello mushrooms filled with Italian sausage and cheese, plus bacon-wrapped, two-ounce filets mignons (Yassss!). Not hearty enough? Then go for the buttermilk fried chicken, which is marinated for 24 hours before being battered, fried to order, and served with both rosemary honey and buttermilk ranch dipping sauces. Keep the coziness going by heading up to the Attic, the restaurant’s upstairs lounge that serves handcrafted cocktails including a bourbon smash and a rosemary gin fizz — and remember that it’s totally acceptable to start out tomorrow on the bunny hill. Make a reservation at 21 Steps Kitchen + Bar.
Fable Kitchen, Vancouver, British Columbia
Kitsilano’s busy Fourth Avenue is great for window shopping — and peeking directly into Fable’s busy kitchen, which is situated directly on the other side of the restaurant’s plate glass front window. All the better to watch chef Trevor Bird and his team assembling farm-to-table (hence the name, Fable. Get it?) comfort options like dense chickpea fritters topped with fresh pea shoots and sweet curry mayo, and Asian noodle salad served with confit chicken thigh and creamy peanut sauce. At brunch, the substantial slice of French toast served with Mascarpone cheese is the way to go — and is there ever a wrong time for maple syrup cake? Nope. So make sure to order it whether you’re eating brunch, dinner, or a snack. Make a reservation at Fable Kitchen
PS: Here’s that epic waffle from Tilth.
Audrey D. Brashich covers pop culture and lifestyle issues for outlets including Yahoo, The Washington Post and The Vancouver Sun. Follow her on Twitter @AudreyBrashich.
Golden Beetle photo by Jaylin Lopez.