Lauren Kramer | 08/03/2015 | Insider Blogs |   

Scotty Browns in Bellingham: Pretty Patio and Magical Menu

If you’re looking for a great restaurant patio for some outdoor dining in Bellingham, head straight to Barkley Village and Scotty Browns Restaurant, Lounge & Social House. This business has the patio recipe down pat: comfortable seating, large pots of greenery, plenty of shade, outdoor heaters and a gas fireplace for extra warmth when needed and a terrific menu that will please most people, from burger-hungry boys to salad-lovin’ gals.

I love a restaurant that allows customization of its menu so you can switch proteins if you like, reduce the carbs or substitute one item for another.

Scotty Browns encourages this kind of personalization, stating its substitution options under each category. “Healthy social bowls” can be added to with fish or chicken, and if you don’t like the protein in any given salad you can substitute stir fried tofu if you’d prefer it vegetarian.

I sat down with my kids on a sweltering July afternoon for a late lunch that was full of such personalization. We opted for the popular Dragon Bowl ($15.75), preferring tofu with our coconut rice, vegetables, red cabbage and spicy yogurt.

The lime pepper grilled halibut street tacos ($12.50) disappeared quickly from our table, a tasty mixture of scallions, cilantro and chipotle sauce in a taco that didn’t split apart at first bite or embarrass anyone by dribbling sauce down their shirt as so often happens. I’ve long been a fan of the cowgirl salad ($14.50), a yummy assortment of walnuts, dates, hosue greens, feta, salsa and apple-miso vinaigrette that I usually prefer with tofu instead of grilled chicken. And our side serving of salted yam fries with aioli was also a popular hit.

The food at Scotty Browns does not appear in massive sizes but is nevertheless a substantial meal, smartly assembled for taste, flavor and freshness. If you’re super-starving there are a number of filling meals under the Two-Handed Burgers category, including the ultimate chicken club ($15), the hickory burger with smoked bacon ($14.50) and the blackened halibut fish burger ($16), all served with regular fries, or for $1.50 extra, salad, edamame or yam fries. The calorie conscious diner will appreciate a wide variety of lighter offerings, such as the Tahitian tuna salad ($17.50), the low carb spa bowl and the kale quinoa salad.

My kids were given etch-a-sketch pads within seconds of taking their seats, which certainly helped wile away the time between placing our order and the arrival of the food. The restaurant has a kids’ menu with the usual staples of pasta, cheeseburger, grilled cheese, pizza and chicken strips (all $7). But there was enough diversity on the main menu that they weren’t even tempted to order off the kids’ menu.

The restaurant atmosphere is fun and lively, a sophisticated meal out, but an environment completely without pretentiousness. Whether you’re wearing shorts and a t-shirt or a business suit, there’s no dress code. And the people-watching options are excellent.

I asked Jonathan Koncz, Scotty Browns’ general manager, what makes the 250-seat restaurant different from anything else in Bellingham. “This place is truly a social house, a downtown bar and a place where you can order a steak and a bottle of wine,” he said. “Anywhere else, you’re seated at your table and that’s where you need to stay during your meal. Here, people walk around. They see friends at another table and move over there to say hi and chat. We welcome that and train our staff to encourage it too.”

Scotty Browns opened in Bellingham in 2009 and has a location at Bellingham International Airport and more recently, a Bellevue restaurant, too. But the Vancouver BC-based fast casual chain is growing quickly and has some 40 locations all over Canada and is in the throes of launching a new brand, London Bull, too.

If you’re coming when there’s a sports game on, there are two large projectors and four television screens. The restaurant is open for brunch on the weekends, when items including blueberry compote waffles, prosciutto eggs benedict and corned beef hash can jumpstart your day. And if there’s a sweet tooth in your mouth you’ll want to try the key lime pie ($6.75) with its nutty crust, and the sticky toffee pudding jar ($7) with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream and toffee bits.

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