It had been a while since my boyfriend and I had gone out on a proper date, so we decided to check out a new restaurant in Bellingham, Saltine. I’d heard nothing but good things about their “New American” comfort food and was looking forward to a good meal. We parked downtown and walked over, enjoying the crisp air and the striking orange leaves on the ground.
The simple white and blue exterior of the new Bellingham restaurant drew me in right away. The inside of the restaurant was clean and bright with large nest-like light fixtures hanging over each table. We were quickly greeted by one of the owners and took a seat at a two-person table close to the window as the late afternoon light poured in the tall windows. I love a good outdoor area and if it had been warmer, I would have asked to be seated outside.
Toward the back of the restaurant behind the bar, an intricate map of Bellingham Bay covered the wall and the bartender mixed drinks below. This subtle touch made the place feel homey and local.
The menu was short and sweet with only 11 main dishes ranging in price from $8 to $26. We decided to share the charcuterie plate as an appetizer. I typically order this at any new restaurant I try because you can definitely judge a place by its cheese plate.
The plate came with a smattering of different flavors and colors. First, I grabbed one of the saltine crackers that they make in-house, as per the name. They were sprinkled with coarse salt and went perfectly with the red pepper jelly and soft cheese they shared the plate with.The plate also included marcona almonds, buttery green olives and peppery salumi.
The charcuterie was just enough to get us started. Our main dishes came out as we sat and enjoyed the music, the warm sun streaming through the window. We ordered the
prosciutto-wrapped chicken and the roasted beet salad.
The chicken was perched atop a bed of mashed potatoes and roasted garlic cloves. My first bite of the mash was creamy and garlicky and everything potatoes should be. Their take on fried chicken and mashed potatoes helped me really understand what Saltine meant when they claimed to be New American comfort food.
Prosciutto always makes a dish feel fancy and this chicken was no exception. It was crispy on the outside and tasted slightly like bacon, which I’m always keen on. The chicken was juicy and flavorful but I couldn’t stop eating the mash, it was definitely the star of the show.
The beet salad had a collection of unique flavors. It was sweet and tangy, but salty with a crunch at the same time. White grapefruit collided with pistachios in a way I wouldn’t have thought of myself. I especially liked the way the shaved pecorino cheese complimented the sweetness of the beets.
We were checked on by the server just enough to feel attended to but not bothered. The tables are pretty close together, which worried me at first (I’m more of a booth girl), but it was surprisingly intimate. This would be a perfect spot for a dinner date or a fancy drink with friends.
Saltine brought together the unlikely pairing of comfort food and upscale dining in a way that will definitely bring me back again.
I think they could benefit from adding a happy hour menu and expanding their hours before 4 p.m. but for now, they’re doing something right.
The restaurant is located at 114 Prospect St. across from the Whatcom Museum.