Welcome to Uncle Jesse’s Kitchen
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
While trying a bite of my elegant melon salad, one of my dinner companions at the Cabin Tavern was reminiscing about the time someone—it may or may not have been him—theatrically set fire to his pants while playing drums during a rock show there years ago, sending him running through the bar without them.
My other buddy, drinking a can of Hamm’s and a shot of whiskey while indulging in a Cubano sandwich, laughed uproariously while picking out a song to play on the Americana II Wurlitzer jukebox.
Holly Street’s Cabin Tavern has grown up in the City of Subdued Excitement with the help of newish owner Christian Danielson (of the 3B Tavern) and the launching of Uncle Jesse’s Kitchen, helmed by Jesse Thurston.
“Uncle Jesse,” a Bellingham native recognizable by his shock of bright pink hair, earned his chops as a cook in Oakland, California. There he experienced a wide variety of cultural cuisines while perfecting American standards and culinary techniques, many of which are reflected on his new, short-but-tasty rotating menu at the former dive bar.
His sense of balance of sweet, savory, spicy and salty are refined, elevating dishes that appear simple—until you taste them.
I stopped in with my motley crew recently to check out the food during the second night of Uncle Jesse’s soft opening. I started with the aforementioned mixed summer melon salad with radish, cucumber, feta, mint and an orange cayenne vinaigrette ($7).
The salad was a spicy, salty, minty, delicately presented and perfectly balanced flavor explosion, like gazpacho’s crazy cousin. I could drink a full serving of the juices in the bottom of the bowl, and am not at all ashamed to say I polished off every drop.
Next we shared the Cubano sandwich ($10, with chips) which gave my own a run for its money—and I’m half-Cuban. The brioche bread was grilled to a crispy char on the outside, while the roasted pork and honey-glazed ham were tender and juicy. Perfectly melted Swiss cheese, house-made pickles, spicy peppers and stone-ground mustard ramped up the flavor.
I barely had room for the stuffed mushrooms ($6), but how could I resist? I shared them with friends by the fireplace while New Order blasted and a weird monkey with blinking eyes watched from the corner.
The crimini mushrooms had a honey-drizzled, crispy topping, juicy shallots, pepper, gorgonzola and sherry vinegar reduction-soaked stuffing. When I looked around, the whole bar seemed to be munching on them.
While the Cabin may not be the beloved hole in the wall it once was, it has certainly become my home away from home. The addition of amazing food is icing on the cake.
By the way, you’ll find books on tape playing in the bathroom. If you ever wanted to learn how to row a boat or train your parrot, they’ve got that covered, too.
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