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December 9, 2013 at 4:36 PM

If you like to eat, there’s big news in little Bow-Edison

Ice lined the mouth of the Samish River at Edison over the cold weekend. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell/The Seattle Times)

Ice lined the mouth of the Samish River at Edison over the cold weekend. (photos by Brian J. Cantwell/The Seattle Times)

Just got back from a couple days in Bellingham, via Chuckanut Drive, and have a little news to report for fans of the expanding Bow-Edison foodie wonderland at the south end of Chuckanut:

The Rhododendron Cafe on Chuckanut Drive is under new ownership. (photos by Brian J. Cantwell/The Seattle Times)

The Rhododendron Cafe on Chuckanut Drive is under new ownership.

If you’re used to stopping in for a bowl of posole stew or some lime-soaked polenta cake at the Farm to Market Bakery in little old downtown Edison (all 500 feet of it), don’t be dismayed when you see the bakery empty and closed this month. Just turn the Prius around and cruise a mile or so back to the corner of Bow Hill Road and Chuckanut Drive and the little old Rhododendron Cafe, the new home to Jim and Lisa Kowalski, who ran the Farm to Market in recent years.

Longtime owners (since 1984, which is about a century in restaurateur years) Don and Carol Shank retired in October and hung up their aprons at the Rhododendron, a popular food stop on the scenic route to the City of Subdued Excitement (Bellingham). With fewer than a dozen tables, the cafe isn’t big — but if you’d ever squeezed into the Kowalskis’ old bakery and literally rubbed elbows with neighbors at the other table as you ate lunch (asking permission to raise your arm so you could get soup to your mouth), the Rhody feels positively barnlike.

And it’s nice to know that one old favorite spot is now in the caring hands of proprietors from another old favorite spot.

Chef Jim, who comes from a fine-dining background (formerly of Nimbus in Bellingham), looks forward to seriously scratching that itch in the new cafe. Part of the attraction, he says, was the opportunity to buy the acre of Skagit County that comes with the place.

Edison has some of the most pleasingly dorky Christmas decorations in the form of wooden Christmas trees, snowmen and stockings nailed to telephone poles. This telephone pole also got yarn bombed, with the help of somebody's old afghan.

Downtown Edison has pleasingly dorky Christmas decorations, in the form of wooden Christmas trees, snowmen and stockings nailed to telephone poles. This pole in front of The Lucky Dumpster also got yarn bombed.

“We’ll be taking advantage of the ability to grow much of our own food, with two greenhouses on the site, a dozen fruit trees, and herb and vegetable gardens,” he says. It doesn’t get more local. Saturday, I happily chowed on an oyster po’ boy with Samish Bay shellfish from just up the road ($12.95).

And if you’re still brokenhearted over the empty bakery on the west end of the Edison commercial hiccup (it’s too small to be a district), take heart over two plans for the future:

1. Kowalski will reopen the Farm to Market Bakery in the Rhododendron Cafe’s former gift shop, next door. It will have the posole and the polenta cake once again, sometime early in 2014. (Meanwhile, get your posole fix at the cafe.)

2. Plans are afoot for the old bakery location to reincarnate early next year as Mariposa, a takeout adjunct to Tweets, another Edison eatery, proprietor Charles Atkinson told me Saturday.

Comments | More in Northwest, weekend getaways | Topics: Chuckanut Drive, Edison, Farm to Market Bakery

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