Monday, March 13th, 2017
Leaf and Ladle Restaurant Delivers Home-Style Cuisine in Bellingham
Lauren Kramer

There are lots of eateries that boast home-style food, but the fare at Leaf & Ladle at 113 N. State Street in Bellingham is the real thing – made with the TLC of a mom who knows exactly what she’s doing in the kitchen.

Linda Melim opened her restaurant three-and-a-half years ago as a go-to for wholesome soups, wraps, paninis and salads, the kinds of dishes she made for her kids before they left home. The 26-seat restaurant is a homey place where Melim and her team – which includes daughters Taylor Melim and Morgan Gaunt – greet customers by name and prepare meals while catching up on the lives of their regulars. “At lunch time, everyone wants a seat at the bar,” says Linda.

Linda Melim and staff member Laura Carnahan deliver healthy fare that tastes just like mom’s kitchen.

With 26 seats and a few extra at the kitchen bar, Leaf & Ladle has a comfy, cozy, intimate feel.

A soup-lover herself, Melim has made it her goal to have at least four rich, chunky, wholesome soups available so that whoever walks through her door – be they vegan, vegetarian, gluten-intolerant or carnivorous – will have their pick.

The day I visited, Southwest corn and chicken chowder was competing with wild mushroom and kale soup, hearty veggie and a curried squash soup. I tried three and found the selection an impossible choice as each one was a mouthful of deliciousness. It was more than evident Melim has culinary talent, but you’d never know it to chat to the chef herself. “I use a miso broth for my vegan soups, but honestly, I’m a dump and pour chef,” she declared. Other soup selections you might find on any given day include salmon chowder featuring Lummi Island sockeye, split pea with smoked pork, gazpacho and a cream-free tomato basil.

The soup selection at Leaf & Ladle rotates constantly and there are always vegan and vegetarian options on hand.

The wraps presented another quandary, with choices like the vegan BLTA (the veggie bacon is created from tamari-marinated, roasted tempeh) or the vegan chorizo. Eventually I settled for the BLTA, a top seller at Leaf & Ladle, and found the large wrap bursting with lightly dressed veggies easily enough to share. The veggie bacon had a mouth-pleasant crunch and texture and the wrap – while dribbly and not a great pick for a first date – was a very satisfying lunch.

Veggie bacon? Yes please! Linda Melim has figured out a way to recreate the crunch and texture of bacon bits without a hint of meat.

Melim makes a vegetarian cheese with coconut milk and the day’s casserole was a vegan mac and cheese, available for eat in or to go. Leaf & Ladle also offers quart-size servings of soup to go, so if dinner rolls around and you need a quick fix before 8 p.m. weekdays, this is a great option. After 3 p.m. take-out orders can be made with Viking Delivery.

Three things you should not expect at Leaf & Ladle: wifi, coffee or dessert. The restaurant’s beverage list includes wine, kombucha and a host of alternative sodas. It’s also worth noting that nothing on the menu – which consists of two large paper scrolls extending ceiling to floor – exceeds $10. Health food lovers be warned: servings are generous and laden with fresh leafy greens.

Leaf & Ladle is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday for dine in, take out and catering solutions. Info: 360-319-9718.

For more local food ideas see our restaurants page or the full list of Lauren’s articles.

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About the Author:

With one foot in Richmond, BC and the other planted firmly in Blaine, WA Lauren Kramer is an award-winning writer and mother with a passion for the Pacific Northwest's unique offerings.