They’d joked one time about opening a restaurant together. Then circumstances changed and Amberleigh Brownson and Eric Truglas found themselves working furiously through January to remodel a site at 1200 Cornwall, previously home to I and Wife Thai Restaurant. Today, just a few weeks into its first day open, Eat is a fabulous, cozy, French-style American bistro and bar where the two are co-partners with French chef Dominique Faury and CFO Jeff Kahn.
There’s a ton of pedigree at Eat. French native Faury left a position as corporate chef at Google in Palo Alto to come to Bellingham, while Truglas was previously the culinary whizz at Semiahmoo Resort. Both chefs are passionate about all things local and sustainable, and they’re joined in business by Brownson, herself a seasoned sommelier and restaurant operator. The group’s attention to detail is evident long before a plate of food is placed in front of you.
The Wall of Fame is a great example. Walk in and it’s right in front of you: professional photographs of county cheesemakers, distillers, farmers, winemakers and fishermen.
“We wanted our guests to meet their ingredient suppliers on a first-name basis and pay homage to what they do, because farm-to-table is our basic concept,” Brownson said.
She compiled the wine list, a great mix of Pacific Northwest, Canadian, Spanish, Argentinian and French wines. But a pillar near the bar also bears testament to her passion, one she converted into a piece of art that took 10 years and 14 hours in the making.
“It’s made out of the foil you cut away from the wine bottle – material I spent ten years collecting and saving for a special piece of art!” she said.
Inside the 100-seat eatery expect bright colors, comfy seating with an L-shaped banquet lining the walls and a fun, unpretentious vibe. That was important to the four partners who named their company “Restaurant Fools LLC.”
“French food tends to have a reputation of being fine dining, which we’re not, but we are in a way,” Brownson said. “There’s nothing pretentious about EAT. In our décor and style, we were going for welcoming, comfortable and elegant, reflected in the meals, the drinks menu and the service. It’s comforting, home food, American style but prepared in a traditional French way with affordable pricing.”
There are two soups daily at Eat: a seafood chowder and a special, and I couldn’t resist the day’s special the morning I popped in: a hearty kale soup that tasted wholesome and delicious, with none of the thick, rooty crunchiness of uncooked kale.
At $4 a cup (and it was more like a bowl than a cup!) it was a terrific start with a super-healthy kick. A salad is my go-to lunch staple so I chose the Cloud Mountain Market Salad, adding a salmon protein. The $11 bowl was tasty, filling and fresh, while the wild salmon was grilled to perfection and not in the least bit dry.
My companion tried the EAT Poke Bowl, a combination of ratatouille, basmati rice and a choice of chicken curry, ahi tuna or beef stew ($8). It was a fabulous lunch dish with just the right combination of healthiness, flavor and innovation, the kind of meal you’d never throw together at home.
There are lots of French-style foods on the menu, including croquet sandwiches ($10-$12), lemon meringue eclairs ($7), poutine with confit chicken gizzards, Parisian rosemary artisan bread tartine raclette ($6) and charcuterie. But don’t be confused by the fancy names – it’s all familiar foods we know and love, containing local ingredients straight from the source and priced very reasonably.
In the summer a patio will open with seating for an additional 30 diners. Til then, stop in for lunch or dinner, or brunch on weekends, when the options include onion tarte quiche, brioche French toast stuffed with almond crème patisserie and an omelet soufflé. Friday and Saturday nights there’s live entertainment, too. I’m placing bets that Eat will quickly rise to the top of Whatcom County diners’ favorite restaurants for its combination of style, innovative food and hip, social atmosphere.
If You Go:
- 1200 Cornwall Ave. Bellingham
- (360) 306.3917