Brunch Alert

No shortcuts at the Birch Door Cafe

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Buttery, silky-soft pancakes that melt in your mouth. Sweet blintzes filled with creamy ricotta and topped with berries. Apple cinnamon pancakes that emerge from the kitchen three inches high and dripping with sweetness. Next time you’re up for an indulgent weekend brunch, make sure you head to the Birch Door Cafe.

Taria and Casey Nagler, both 30, opened the restaurant in June, but already their Meridian Street parking lot is busy even on weekdays.  

The two have tons of pedigree. Casey’s grandparents ran a restaurant in Chicago more than 50 years ago, and his parents followed suit in 1981 with the Oak Table Café in Sequim. Casey and his siblings grew up in the restaurant kitchen and must have fallen in love with the industry, because each went on to open their own eatery. Taria and Casey helped his siblings open a restaurant each in Silverdale and Walla Walla. Then they started scouting a site for their own place.

Casey, a Western Washington University grad, remembered loving Bellingham. When he brought his bride to take a look, she agreed. Within six months they settled on the location of the old Bellingham Beauty School at 4192 Meridian St.

The two bought the building and recruited Casey’s dad, a general contractor, to help with the renovation. It was no small project, because it meant tearing down the entire top floor of the building and starting fresh. Eighteen months later, the Birch Door made its debut.

“The menu is almost identical to my parents’ restaurant,” Casey says. “We describe it as an old, country-style, gourmet breakfast where we use real ingredients—heavy whipping cream and real butter. For our buttermilk pancakes we use a sourdough starter in a complex recipe that delivers fluffy, easy-to-digest pancakes.”

That sourdough starter is sprinkled with Nagler family history. When the Birch Door opened, Casey’s parents offered the couple some of their own starter. “It’s a piece of the legacy,” he notes.

The Naglers don’t believe in culinary shortcuts. All batters are made from scratch, pancake syrups and toppings don’t come bottled from the grocery store and juices are freshly squeezed. Breakfast offering include platters with eggs, a choice of meats and pancakes ($13.75). Pancake varieties include including strawberry granola, blueberry, bacon, chocolate chips and apple cinnamon (11.75-$12.95). There’s also eggs in all the usual styles—omelets, Eggs Benedict, scrambles and quiches.

I tried the High Tide Scramble ($14.45), which features wild Pacific smoked salmon scrambled with cream cheese and green onions. It was a nice savory dish, but what truly stole the limelight was those buttermilk pancakes and the Fresh Fruit Blintzes ($13.75), made from Casey’s grandmother’s recipe.

Another show-stealer is the Apple Pancake, the house specialty. Every time one of these massive, cake-like creations comes out of the kitchen, a large bell is rung to attract attention.

“We use a German pancake batter, a soufflé custard-type that takes 40 minutes to bake,” Casey explained. “It’s topped with cinnamon sugar glaze and fresh baked apples, and served with a side of apple syrup.”

Open until 3pm, you can also get a hearty lunch, starting at 11am Tuesday through Friday. Choices include sandwiches, quiches, burgers, entrée salads and soups. Weekends, it’s breakfast all day.

For more info, go to

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