Gorgeous, multi-paneled, glass folding doors now hang in the openings where fire engines once parked. Today the historic space offers indoor/outdoor dining options overlooking Lynden’s picturesque Front Street, as the Jansen Art Center‘s Firehall Cafe.
Inside, bright red cafe-style chairs hug artistically painted tables. I have the feeling I have stepped inside a French Bistro. The menu is adorned with Paninis and Wraps, Salads and Soups, and Small Plates as well as Espresso and Pastries. But wait I see something more – there’s also wine (Hey Teresa – there’s wine up here in Lynden, come check it out!) – and beer from Kulshan Brewing Company! I’m excited by the fun vibe I’ve just walked into.
Since this was lunchtime, I ordered my favorite (a Chai Tea Latte) and a Chicken Cesar Salad. Both arrived in a flash, and I settled in to get some work done utilizing the free wifi. One taste of the Chai and I found myself smiling as I typed. When I asked about it, manager Sean Beanblossom told me it is Sereno Chai Tea. He tried 8 different chai tea blends when he was creating the menu and picked this one as the best. I agree. It is one of the most flavorful I have ever tasted. It also happens to be organic.
When it comes to food, the terms organic, fresh and local are near and dear to Manager Sean’s heart. He was born and raised here in the Lynden agricultural valley on an apple orchard, before continuing to culinary school in Seattle. He returned to his hometown to take on a number of catering jobs. When the Firehall Cafe opened in December 2012, Sean was hired to create the first menu, then became the manager. He has just completed the cafe’s third menu update, with a seasonal and local component featuring 6 or 8 items that will change monthly.
Finding ingredients will be a snap. The location of the Jansen Art Center happens to be across the street from the Lynden Farmer’s Market on Thursday afternoons (1 to 6 p.m.) in the summer. The Firehall Cafe is open Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 11 to 5.
As I ask Sean questions I see knowing smiles on the friendly customers around me. One even sits down to join us. I get the feeling this one of those places “where everybody knows your name, and they are always glad you came.”
Sean must have seen in my eyes that I am a chocoholic, because he brought me an amazing chocolate brownie he created with Lynden blueberries baked inside and an extra dash of cinnamon. Each bite melted in my mouth with the perfect blend of sweet berry morsel offset by tart dark chocolate. The dessert/pastry selection changes as he experiments with new ideas. Be sure to order this one!
The Firehall Cafe put me in such a good mood. I’m already plotting a lunch here with my adventurous girlfriends (you know who you are). Or maybe we’ll visit for Happy Hour on a Friday or Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. Featured specials include $2.50 beer and $4.50 wine with $1 off small plates. All beer on tap is from Kulshan Brewery in Bellingham. Sean says, “This is the only location in Lynden that serves Kulshan, and all the locals know it is the place to visit.” The wine list highlights five Washington wines, and one import that rotates every month.
The Jansen Art Center is filled with daytime and evening activities, including live music on Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:30 and Saturdays from 6:30 to 8:00. Check the schedule on the center’s website.
Anyone who has ever been to Lynden knows the view of Mt. Baker is spectacular. The Firehall Cafe also offers a southern facing outdoor dining patio with cozy heaters, plants and scenic vistas. I am putting it on my To Do list for the summer.
Enjoy / See you there!