Cinnamon Berg, owner of Cosmos Bistro, is a people person.
Catching the cooking bug in her pre-teens, Berg earned a culinary degree and subsequently worked at various restaurants in Los Angeles, Seattle, and finally, Bellingham. After heading up Avenue Bread‘s former dinner service, Sunnyland Suppers, and contributing to Crave Catery as well, she decided to open up a place of her own.
In addition to providing an excellent dining experience, Berg’s goal in creating Cosmos was to, “build a community of like-minded people, whether farming, or businesses, or just knowing who your neighbor is.” And that is exactly what she has done.
Sitting down with her during the restaurant’s daily two hour siesta, I had a chance to experience a rare calm in the generally bustling space. Behind an open counter the cooks were visible prepping for the evening with an equal mix of focused intent and easy comradery.
About her staff Berg says, “There’s really no turnover. All these guys are really dedicated to the Cosmos vision and they want to be a part of it. We encourage not only a community out there, but a community in here.”
Cosmos is relatively new to the Bellingham scene, opening in April of 2015, but they have caught on quickly, and it is common to find the cozy dining area full.
Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they offer a variety of creative comfort foods like you’ve never experienced before. A prime example is their signature “Mama’s” meatloaf, (which really is Cinnamon’s mom’s recipe). As a meatloaf lover, I will attest that this is one of my favorites in all of Bellingham.
The goal is to provide fresh, farm-to-table fare whenever possible. With this focus in mind, Berg believes they still, “haven’t tapped into the real potential,” possible here in Bellingham. This continual search for quality ingredients repeatedly draws customers to experience the latest culinary treat put together by the Cosmos team.
For Breakfast, favorites include The Bacon Nation, seasoned home fries loaded with a generous serving of diced bacon, caramelized onions, sweet peppers, with two eggs and cheddar cheese. Or try The Eggurrito, a deluxe, savory breakfast burrito packed with seasoned home fries, scrambled eggs, black beans, caramelized onion, cotija cheese, sour cream and salsa. To top it off, it comes smothered in a house-made, red ancho chili sauce.
For lunch, try a 3B Burger, homemade blueberry onion jam, bleu cheese, and bacon or the juicy Kulshan Beer-ger – Kulshan’s Red Cap, an Irish style red ale, is the secret to the rich, creamy sauce that tops it. Add one or both to your list of go-to Bellingham burgers. Both are served with a side of jojo style house fries, cut full potato-length and seasoned to such perfection, you’ll be back for more.
As a tamale lover, I was delighted to see Vegetarian Tamales on the dinner menu. A lot of time and preparation goes into tamales. Packed with spinach and seasonal squash, their rich flavor are worth the extra effort. Served with the house ancho chili sauce over seasoned rice, black beans and cotija cheese, these tamales have clinched me as a return customer.
A favorite among both staff and customers is the Pork Adobo. This pork shoulder is marinated in soy, vinegar, garlic and spices and slow roasted to fall-apart tenderness.
So good in fact, it’s served all day. In the morning it comes in a creative eggs benedict, combined with poached eggs and smothered in hollandaise sauce served with a generous side of home fries.
Lunch means the Pork Adobo Sandwich, the same mouth-watering pork atop toasted, crisp sourdough bread with a sweet onion slaw. Finally, for dinner, enjoy a large serving of this favorite atop a bed of seasoned rice with fresh seasonal vegetables.
When the Cosmos people say the food is all made on site, they mean almost everything. Berg says, “We work really hard on not just (using) local, quality ingredients, but we make everything from scratch. Jams, breads, drink pairings, (and) desserts. They’re thought through and make sense for the season and the restaurant.”
This dedication to local, seasonal ingredients is apparent with a glance at the specials menu. A creamy curry squash soup and classic southern hush puppies (in celebration of Elvis’ birthday) are examples from two of my recent visits. Showcasing innovative and often surprising dishes, the specials highlight what’s ripe and available at the time. The entire team is encouraged to get creative with what’s freshly available and test out fun ideas for dishes.
Want to try something new? Ask your server for a recommended food & drink pairing. One of Berg’s go-to favorites includes any of their hearty salads paired with a glass of the Pinot Noir on tap. Try the Salad Nicoise, featuring seared tuna, tomatoes, green and black olives, roasted baby reds, green beans, roasted beets and pickled eggs on a bed of fresh mixed greens and herbs finished off with the house honey-shallot vinaigrette. The fruity and savory notes in the pinot noir combined with the wine’s acidity make these two a perfect match.
Acknowledging the call for gluten-free and vegetarian options in Bellingham, both can be found on the regular menu. While an assortment of vegan dishes make appearances on the specials menu, the regular menu reflects a sentiment many of us share with Berg, “I like cheese and butter.”
Yeah, me too.
Berg wasn’t sure exactly what Cosmos would look like when she began, the restaurant “came together piece by piece,” and is constantly adapting, bringing to life the vision that the entire team shares.This writer personally agrees that this chic, modern bistro turned out, “really cool.” It seems that Bellingham agrees as well.
Cosmos offers a unique dining experience in this town with a cozy, yet off-beat, atmosphere and friendly, attentive staff. Picking just one item among a menu where all are backed by rave reviews is tough. Fortunately, it looks like Cosmos won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Standing to leave after the interview, I went for a handshake. Berg instead offered up a hug. As I said, she’s a people person.