Dining out: Stanwood gets a place with a pedigree

Being a card-carrying member of the American Association of Regular Guys (AARG for short), I’m always a little bashful about ordering items with cute names from menus.

I run into this problem whenever I order a particular item from The Sisters Restaurant in Everett. It’s a bagel served with a cream cheese spread made with garlic, olives and walnuts, and it’s delicious. But I have to lean over the counter, check to make sure other AARG members aren’t listening, and in a low voice, say, “I’d like the Sensuous Bagel, please.”

So, you see my reluctance in ordering the Eggel Bagel at the Blackbird Bakery Cafe in Stanwood. But I also know not to let pride stand between me and a good meal.

For all its alliteration, the Eggel Bagel is a simple but inventive take on eggs Benedict: a split bagel topped with cream cheese, smoked salmon (lox-style), two poached eggs, red onion and capers, and served with a side of hash browns. Break the yolks of the poached eggs and you can do without a gloppy Hollandaise sauce that would only hide the flavor of the salmon and mask the tang of the onions and capers.

Blackbird owner Ed Beeson said the Eggel Bagel has been with him for a while, though in different combinations, and it has a successful pedigree.

Beeson’s previous restaurants include the Silver Spoon in Duvall in the late 1970s and early ’80s, Hattie’s Hat in Ballard until 2001 and, more recently, the Maple Leaf Grill in Seattle.

Beeson, who lives with his wife and business partner, Joanne Swanson, on Camano Island, said he had been looking for a spot for a new restaurant.

“I wanted to get back to a small-town place, and the bakery-cafe is a proven model,” he said.

The building, along the brick cobbles of Main Street in west Stanwood’s old downtown, was available, and Beeson and Swanson opened Blackbird about five weeks ago. Blackbird already has hired 16 people, chief among them baker Tobey Layne, who worked most recently at the Snohomish Bakery &Cafe.

You can expect a compulsion to visit the bakery case before leaving to check its selection of pastries, muffins, croissants, cinnamon rolls, brownies, macaroons and cookies. A lemon and raspberry Danish and a cheese Danish with fresh blueberries were flaky and tasted every bit homemade.

You’ll still want some coffee, and Blackbird offers the locally roasted Black Swan, as well as espresso and chai, along with tea, freshly squeezed orange juice and homemade lemonade.

Blackbird offers brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

For $9.95 each, you can order your choice of Swedish pancakes with lingonberries and real maple syrup; French toast with a fresh fruit salad; Mexi-Hash made with hash browns, cheddar cheese, onion, red pepper, carrot, broccoli and chorizo with eggs and served with corn tortillas; the Eggel Bagel; and the All-American, two eggs, three slices of local bacon and multigrain toast.

Daily breakfasts include Tobey’s Biscuit and Gravy ($4.95), a fresh biscuit smothered in sausage gravy and served with bacon; or Blackbird granola ($3.95), with yogurt and fruit.

Sandwiches, which also can be ordered as salads, include the Veg-Head with hummus, cucumber, avocado, alfalfa spouts and Samish Bay’s Ladysmith cheese; the Chicken Little, a diced-chicken-breast salad with onion, celery, almonds and mayonnaise on a croissant; and the Have a BLAST with bacon, lettuce, avocado, Swiss cheese and tomato on multigrain bread.

My wife and I ordered the Healthy Nordic as a salad and the My Hero as a sandwich.

The Nordic is made with fresh bay shrimp, Samish Bay’s Gouda cheese, sprouts, lettuce and tomato, locally grown.

The Blackbird’s hero was like enjoying a plate of antipasto between two halves of baguette: Italian salami, Canadian ham, lettuce, tomato, pickled pepper and kalamata olive slices, and fresh mozzarella cheese.

Blackbird also offers baked entrees ($9.95), including quiche; mac-n-cheese, made with Tillamook sharp cheddar and local cheeses; and a chicken pot pie. The chicken pot pie was a homey bowl of freshly cooked chicken, sliced mushrooms, carrots, onions and cauliflower in gravy, topped with puff pastry, excellent on a rainy afternoon.

Blackbird also serves a daily creamed vegetable soup ($4.95) with creme fraiche, and other soups du jour. A combo platter ($9.95) offers any half sandwich and a bowl of soup.

Count on Blackbird to expand from its current offerings. A license for wine and beer is expected later this year, as are dinner specials.

Beeson hopes to help with a Slow Food organization in the area and, drawing on his concert promotion skills, has plans to bring in local musicians for a slow food and roots music festival.

In another year, a hearth bakery for artisan bread could follow in a space next door, Beeson said.

In the meantime, my fellow AARG members and I will say it loud, say it proud: Eggel Bagel, Eggel Bagel.

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