It’s one thing to see the beauty of Whatcom County, but if you want to taste it too, head to Drizzle in Lynden. The restaurant and retail store opened on Lynden’s Front street, in the old Waples Building, last December and is the second county location for owners Ross and Dana Driscoll. They debuted their Fairhaven retail store (in Bellingham) six years ago, but when the Lynden opportunity arose, they decided to up the ante by including a 27-seat restaurant with a full lunch and snack menu.
At its helm is Executive Chef Andy Nguyen, an extraordinarily capable young man whose resume includes Chuckanut Manor Bar & Grill, The W Seattle and cooking gigs for Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates. Nguyen is passionate about local food and fills his pantry at a variety of area farms ranging in distance from My Shane Creamery, just five miles away, to Salumi Seattle, 100 miles drive. With his locally sourced cheese, veggies, milk, nuts, ice cream and meats, he’s presenting some extraordinarily gourmet dishes – the kind you might expect in a high-end big-city hotel, but that come as a sweet surprise in Lynden.
We started out with a Grande Drizzle Board ($16), a charcuterie platter presented a gorgeous assortment of seasonal colors. Nguyen had prepared a sour cherry pork terrine with pistachios and black pepper on one side, and a head cheese on the other. Both were derived from a pig raised five miles away at Brittle Barns. “We take the pig’s head, cook it down for six hours, pick the cheek meat, utilize the ears and pay homage to the animal,” Nguyen explained. “Everything in the head flavors the meat and you get a great gelatinous stock afterward – something you really can’t buy!” The platter was decorated with homemade pickles, zucchini, radish, golden beets, red onions, carrots, sweet peppers, pickled cherry and homemade mustards. And every one of those veggies came from either Lynden or Everson.
It was late September and with the fall chill adding light sweaters on otherwise sunny days, I ordered autumn minestrone soup (gluten-free and lacto-ovo), a comfort food I can’t resist.
The bowl was massive, the stock was tasty and the assortment of veggies inside were crunchy and cooked to perfection. The Smoked Hammy Sammy ($10) is Drizzle’s most popular sandwich, a combination of shaved fennel, cranberry mostarda, smoked pepper aioli, mozzarella, smoked ham and arugula.
But being a salad gal I opted for the poached pear and grapefruit salad ($11), digging enthusiastically into this wonderful assemblage of summer ingredients coated in a light grapefruit vinaigrette.
Many of the dishes on Drizzle’s menu contain the olive oils and balsamic vinegars available for purchase in the store, so dining in is a great way to sample some of those unique flavors and see how well they pair with various dishes.
I was blown away by the Sicilian lemon with mint-infused soda, made with balsamic vinegar, muddled mint, and soda water. Admittedly, I wasn’t even thirsty, but drinking this carbonated beverage was like the feeling you get when you dive into a cool, blue swimming pool on a hot summer’s day. I couldn’t extract the straw from my mouth – it was that good!
“Folks will try our peach balsamic infused soda and then want to buy the peach balsamic, for example,” Ross said. “We have a recipe section that accompanies the oils and vinegars and we also put out seasonal recipes for customers.” Avid tasters can sample the selection using baguette or sipping from small cups before choosing the flavors they want to take home.
The Driscolls got hooked on oils and vinegars after meeting an olive farmer in Murphy, California several years ago. “She introduced us to an excellent supplier of really good olive oil – Veronica Foods, a company that’s able to obtain olive oil from both the southern and northern hemispheres that is considered very good on a chemical standard,” Ross confided.
When it comes to that chemical standard, he and Dana are admittedly “kinda nerdy.” “We select the olive oils that are high in polyphenyls, the healthy antioxidants. The higher those polyphenols, the better they are for you and the higher the smoke point of the oil is,” he said. Drizzle sells up to 70 oils and vinegars and bottles are filled on demand, only when customers order them. “We encourage tasting,” he added. “There are no pre-filled bottles because we want customers to know what’s going into the bottle.”
Drizzle’s menu includes a selection of tantalizing raviolis, cheeseboards comprised of selections from Ferndale Farmstead and Twin Sisters Creamery, three kids’ items and a small but tempting dessert menu. We settled on the blood orange baklava ($9), where layers of phyllo are interspersed with squash puree, blood orange, star anise syrup and cinnamon gouda cheese. Ross’ favorite, this one is a sophisticated combination of flavors and like all the dishes at Drizzle, is exquisitely presented.
Hours: The restaurant and store are open 10-6 Monday to Wednesday, until 8pm Thursday through Saturday and noon-4pm Sundays.
Location: 420 Front Street, Lynden, WA (inside the Waples Building)
Info: drizzletastingroom.com or call (360) 366-8470