The 184-seat restaurant and bar northwater is now open at the Holiday Inn and Suites located near the Bellingham International Airport, bringing a Salish Sea theme and a sophisticated menu to foodies and frequent fliers. We stopped for lunch and were charmed by the prevalence of wavy glass that mimics ripples on the sea; by the calming, turquoise-green color scheme and artwork; lighting and a beautiful water feature all aimed to deliver that quintessential Pacific Northwest ambiance.
Donâ€™t think for a minute this is just a burgers and fries kinda place. Though they have a decent burger menu with customizable options like whiskey bacon, gorgonzola, roasted mushrooms and fried eggs.
But Chef Christy Fox has gone way beyond the usual fare, adding her innovative culinary twist to many dishes. That means fire roasted tomato soup with coconut milk (dairy free and gluten free), Asian chicken and pear salad, curry chicken sandwich and features including rosemary chicken scaloppini ($14), drunken green curry noodles ($15) and saffron shrimp risotto ($16).
Fox is co-owner and founder of Evolve Chocolate Truffles, and boasts a resume that stretches back a quarter of a century. She studied at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and worked with celebrity chef Bradley Ogden. Her truffles are award-winners, so itâ€™s no surprise that her menu is nothing short of fabulous. This woman knows exactly what sheâ€™s doing in the kitchen.
We ordered tomato soup â€“ available in small or large â€“ and found the creamy mixture delivered by the coconut milk to be a guilt-free pleasure. A long-time beet lover I couldnâ€™t resist the roasted beet carpaccio ($12), where yellow and red beets share plate space with warm chevre, pistachio and citrus vinaigrette. While it was a smallish portion for the price, it was a truly sumptuous starter. Our server also brought us a complimentary serving of parmesan tomato focaccia with sun-dried tomato tapenade.
Thereâ€™s a great deal of attention to detail at northwater and you notice it as soon as the first plates arrive. The plates themselves are gorgeously shaped with wave-like patterns – way more stylish than the typical restaurant crockery. Even the silverware was selected for its oceanic theme. Itâ€™s hard to deny, there is something beautiful about eating at a brand spanking new restaurant where you can tell that everything is straight out of the box. Even the wait staff exuded positive energy and the crew was genuinely pleased to see and serve us.
My companion and I shared the rosemary chicken scaloppini and the drunken green curry noodles, both dishes derived from the dinner menu but delivered in smaller portions for the lunch menu. The scaloppini was, in a word, un-put-down-able. A rich, creamy dish of seared chicken breast on a bed of artichoke hearts, roasted tomato, pine nuts and linguine, it was literally irresistible and disappeared super-fast fast off my plate. In fact, I canâ€™t remember the last time I enjoyed a lunch this much. The curry noodle dish, which consisted of marinated beef, rice noodles, shiitake mushrooms and vegetables, was a nice composition. Itâ€™s the kind of dish you could never pull off at home. But the scaloppini won my heart on this visit and I canâ€™t recommend it highly enough.
Sadly we had just an hourâ€™s lunch and ran out of time to try the dessert menu. The flourless chocolate torte with rose and pistachio was tempting, as was the banana cream pie, and the white chocolate cheesecake. So weâ€™ll be back for sure, next time perhaps for an evening meal, as northwaterâ€™s cocktail menu is a good one. There are 12 cool cocktails on the menu and the bar, a sophisticated space just next to the restaurant, looks like the perfect place to hang out with friends before a good meal.
As soon as you land at Bellingham airport, grab your bags and head for a northwater meal, or just swing in any time. The food is good, the service is excellent and the menu goes way above and beyond. Whatâ€™s more, the price-to-value ratio is superb. We give this one 4.5 stars out of five.
open 6:30am to 11pm daily
Located inside Holiday Inn & Suites Bellingham Airport
4260 Mitchell Way, Bellingham, WA
For reservations call (360) 746-6844