If you’ve ever been to Bellingham, you know what I’m talking about. Bellingham has been dubbed a college town, a gathering place for globe-trotting hippies, and a place somewhere in the cold, wet Northwestern corner of Washington state where people just passing through seem to get stuck.
The food scene in Bellingham, however, is a bit of a joke if you’ve ever been here or lived here. It’s the place where good restaurants go to die. Bellingham has had some fantastic foodie treasures, one such being the The Prospect Street Cafe (a greatly missed jewel of a restaurant!). But none seem to fare the weather for long, which is a terrible tragedy considering the plethora of fresh ingredients that are readily available from the surrounding farmland in our backyard and the vast Pacific Ocean knocking on our door.
Of Rock and Rye…
Last summer, a new restaurant opened in the historic Herald building promising to bring something new and fresh to the food scene in Bellingham. The Rock and Rye Oyster House does not disappoint. It is the epitome of subdued excitement, with a quaint, no-frills atmosphere greeting you at the door. Once you pass through those doors, however, the wonderful smells and low, constant rumble of happy customers enjoying a fantastically flavorful meal let you know you’re in the right place.
Eric and I have actually eaten here a few times now, and one of the best meals we had there was a Whiskey Dinner they offered at an incredibly inexpensive price that featured craft whiskey and bourbon from High West Distillery. The meal was amazing and they were more than generous with the whiskey. It seems that each time we eat at Rock and Rye, our meals get progressively better and better, and this week’s meal was no exception.
With it being one of the best months for fresh, local oysters, we started off our meal with an exceptional sampling of Shigoku and Kumamoto oysters from Taylor Shellfish Farms. They were sweet, briny and delicious! We followed these refreshing first bites with the Grilled Sardine which was dressed in a caper and olive tapenade of sorts and drizzled with a light tarragon oil. I honestly had never had sardine before (I know, what kind of Pacific Northwesterner AM I?), but this was a fantastic and flavorful fish that made me wonder why I haven’t tried it sooner?!
By this time, we were definitely hungry for more, so we ordered another cocktail and waited patiently for our main dishes to arrive. Eric ordered the Oxtail Gnocchi which was a fantastically light, yet flavor-packed dish, and I couldn’t resist the tantalizing description of the Pork Belly Carbonara on the menu. Who could say no to house-cured pork belly and homemade pasta in a rich, cheesy, duck egg sauce? It was amazing. It had the traditional richness that you would expect with a carbonara, but with an extra kick from thinly shaved jalapeno tossed in the mix.
A close friend also joined us for dinner and he indulged in the Confit Duck and Cassoulet that was a perfect balance of sweet and salty duck resting atop a pork belly cassoulet. As you can see, it didn’t last long…
The Rock and Rye Oyster House has definitely delivered on its promise to bring something new and fresh to the foodie scene in Bellingham. It’s a great place to meet friends, enjoy a classic cocktail and indulge in some fantastic and flavorful eats. We are hopeful that it will continue to grow and develop as an iconic symbol of fresh local eats for Bellingham, and we can’t wait to taste more!