BELLINGHAM - While eating food from local sources is fashionable and virtuous, it also can be expensive if you're not cooking at home.
Brandywine Kitchen, open for close to a year in the space formerly occupied by Tivoli, gives downtown diners a place to enjoy reasonably priced, sophisticated and satisfying local meals without running up an extravagant tab. The entrees and sandwiches are clustered in a comfortable $9 to $11 price range.
The format here is informal: Order at the counter and set your own table with tableware and paper napkins. The décor is warm red brick, with appropriately local artwork on the walls.
We also were pleasantly surprised by the generously proportioned happy hour glasses of house wine at $3.50 each. It's getting pretty hard to find a decent glass of the stuff at that price.
On a recent visit, we enjoyed an ancho chili barbecued pork sandwich special, $10.95, with a stimulating $4.95 salad of mixed greens with a piquant balsamic vinegar dressing, enlivened with almonds and pickled cabbage.
The sandwich came on a crunchy French roll, with a sauce that struck a fine balance between sweet and hot.
Our other selection was the chicken pot pie, $10.95, with roasted free-range chicken.
The words "chicken pot pie" still evoke a slight twinge of nausea for me, rooted in my childhood encounters with the frozen variety that Mom used to serve, now and then, in our little house on the New Jersey prairie.
The Brandywine Kitchen pie is not like those. It was rich and creamy, topped with golden, flaky pillows of pastry.
The rest of the menu features similarly simple-sounding but well-executed stuff, with some promising options for the gluten-phobic among you: gluten-free mac and cheese with quinoa pasta, $8.95, and gluten-free fish and chips with a rice panko crust, $10.95.
This place seems to be a hit with the increased population of younger downtown residents with sophisticated tastes and limited budgets.
Address: 1317 Commercial St., Bellingham
Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday
Price range: $9-$11
Reach JOHN STARK at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2274.