You can’t help but feel good when you walk into Bellewood Farms’ large red barn on Guide Meridian, near Lynden, WA. The bright, cheerful space is full of eye candy, – ornaments, jams, books and local art. The sweet, rich aroma of apples hangs in the air and the amazing fruit lovingly grown on this 62-acre farm is packaged into a wide range of ingredients, many of them available for tasting. We tried honey-roasted peanut butter, crispy dehydrated apple chips, apple cider and apple cider vinegar. I was planning my next meal with these ingredients even before we sat down at the Bellewood Country Café!
The café opened three years ago and has been a resounding success, says John Belisle, who owned the farm with his wife, Dorie. “On Friday nights in summer and early fall, when we have live music, the outdoor area is full,” he says, gesturing to the wooden picnic tables toasting in the fall sunshine. “The parking area is packed with 600 cars and there’s a long lineup for the cafeteria-style meal.”
We arrived on a hot Monday afternoon, our appetites whet for a great lunch after an hour-long orchard tour with Dorie. A former speech therapist and natural teacher, we’d joined Dorie and a group of home-schooled children for a tractor tour.
On the way we learned about the 21 varieties of apples grown at Bellewood, how they’re kept safe from bugs, birds and fluctuating temperatures, how they’re fed and nourished and how their fruit is harvested, sorted and processed. By the time we sat down we were fully primed in apples and ready to enjoy them in a chilled apple cider frost ($3.75) (essentially a cider slushy that tastes like heaven in a plastic cup) and in Bellewood’s special salads.
I selected the Bellewood Salad ($9.50), a healthy mix of seasonal greens, chopped apples, goat cheese and candied walnuts with apple cider vinaigrette. Light, summery and delicious, it was a great mix of fresh ingredients that highlighted the apple crop.
My daughter tried the seasonal salad with fruit, aged cheddar and toasted almonds and my son devoured the City Farmer panini ($9.25), a toasted treat with roasted red peppers, zucchini, Comte cheese and balsamic on homemade whole-wheat focaccia.
The lunch menu is beautifully varied, with specialty sandwiches featuring roasted turkey or honey ham, gourmet burgers (including the Darn Hot burger with jalapenos) and a selection of specials that includes fish and chips, gourmet bratwurst and pulled pork sandwiches. The soups on offer that day were chicken apple curry and vegetarian minestrone, but the item that flies from the kitchen fastest, we were told, is the Gobbler sandwich, with turkey, greens, goat cheese and red onion drizzled with raspberry chipotle sauce ($9.25).
You can tell how much restaurant owners care about their food by how much effort is put into its preparation. At Bellewood Farms bread is mostly homemade, and all pastries and pies are made on-site with local fruit. Those treats include apple turnovers and cider doughnuts, but the café also has frozen whole pies for take-out, or fresh-baked pies for take-out if you call ahead.
Bellewood is open for breakfast, too, with a range of breakfast sandwiches, eggs, pancakes and country fried steak available, all under $11. More than just a café, a visit to Bellewood Farms is an experience that makes you fall in love with the humble apple, appreciate its versatility and enjoy it in a variety of forms, whether your mood is for salad, gin, apple brandy or an alcohol-free cider.
Don’t leave without a sample of the honey roasted peanut butter. “We sold 13 tons of it last year,” says John with a laugh. “Honestly, it sells like crack!”
If You Go:
- 6140 Guide Meridian in Lynden
- (360) 318-7720