A pair with flair


What: Evolve Chocolate + Cafe Grand Opening

Where: 1200 11th St. (above Village Books)


WHEN: Thurs., Oct. 11; the restaurant is open 9am-9pm Mon.-Sat., and 10am-7pm Sundays


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

If you’re looking for a great new place for a meal, make a beeline for Evolve Chocolate + Cafe, upstairs at Village Books.

The space formerly occupied by Bookfare Cafe has been renovated and improved by Chef Christy Fox and her wife, Shannon Fox, and the talented pair are delivering fabulous food at super-reasonable prices.

Christy was previously the chef at the helm of Northwater, the restaurant inside the Holiday Inn at Bellingham Airport, but she had Shannon had long dreamed of opening their own eatery.

“We were always looking for that perfect spot,” Shannon confided. “When Village Books called in February to invite us to take a look at the space, it was love at first sight.” At the time the former Bookfare space had lots of potential, but needed work. “The room wasn’t warm and inviting and there was no opportunity to see the view,” Christy says, pointing out the window to Bellingham Bay and historic Fairhaven.

The Fox duo called on Bellingham friends to help reinvent the room. One created wood baseboards to match the bamboo flooring, and the RE Store was tasked with upcycling wood tables for the restaurant. They did an awesome job—the table where we dined was made from Douglas fir dating back to the 1890s.

Two “green” walls filled with a selection of fresh herbs give the room freshness and deliver ready-to-go ingredients for the kitchen. Add a fresh coat of bright paint, warm brown drapes and interesting artwork, and Evolve Chocolate + Cafe was ready for Christy’s innovative pairings in late September.

We sat down for the weekly supper, a $30, three-course meal that changes each week and is available Thursday through Saturday.

“This supper is Christy’s creative space,” our server informed us as he delivered curried lentil planks, an appetizer made of baked red lentils served in a harissa coconut yogurt sauce with avocado crema. The two planks were spectacular: full of flavor, rich in texture and the kind of dish you could never dream of pulling off at home.

The rest of the meal continued to evidence Christy’s culinary flair. Blueberry cured wild salmon served with burrata cheese and chocolate chili vinegar. A tofu cashew korma of vegetables in a mild coconut curry, served with garlic flatbread straight out of the oven. A saffron lemon cheesecake with a to-die-for almond ginger crust and a heavenly rich chai tea to end the meal.

“This is the best cheesecake I’ve ever tasted,” my daughter declared.

The regular menu is similarly appealing. Evolve offers dishes such as Moroccan lamb pita ($11), curried lentil or vegetable rice bowls ($10-$11), and a surprise daily bento box that changes to reflect that day’s food inspirations. There are also breakfast pastries and sandwiches, and house-made desserts including a guava rose roulade ($7), a triple chocolate cake, a sundae and a malted coffee affogato.

The Fox pair have lots of plans. Next summer their 36-seat patio will open downstairs, with a smoker, a barbecue, to-go fare, cocktails, beer and wine. Shannon is also planning on starting a monthly book club, Life Between the Pages, with a prix fixe dinner of $60, in January. Participants will make reservations, receive information about the book ahead of time, and enjoy a five-course meal with cocktail pairings.

The atmosphere at Evolve is relaxed and you could easily browse the book selection nearby in between courses. But what’s best about Evolve is that nothing is the “same-old” or boring. Everything reflects Chef Christy’s passion, ingenuity and talent for innovative pairings. Come for date night, a satisfying supper or a quick meal on the go. Whichever meal you choose, you’ll leave feeling deeply impressed, as I did.

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