Jon Quimod and Kylie Bestul, of Blaine, have a knack for balancing adventurous eating with small-town pragmatism.
The couple recently took over the ownership of The Little Red Caboose after the previous owners left town and have created a dynamic menu that boasts world flavors with a downhome atmosphere and prices.
Whether it’s the turkey that is oven roasted every day, the slowly simmered onion and balsamic vinegar marmalade (what Quimod cleverly refers to as “The Gold”) or the way each sandwich is carefully handcrafted to order, it is abundantly clear these experienced restaurateurs want to put their signature on everything they do.
“We just tried to do things you couldn’t get other places but keep things within a reasonable range,” he said. “Good food starts with good ingredients. We use Claus and Hempler’s meats and Avenue Bread, all from Bellingham.” Quimod said he and Bestul had been looking for a project to do together for awhile when they came across former owner Laura McAllister’s ad on Craig’s List.
The couple recently moved from Seattle to Bellingham and then to Blaine when they found the caboose. “We were looking for a small space where we could make a personal statement,” he said.
Both Quimod and Bestul have extensive restaurant experience. Bestul worked several years as a waitress for Norwegian Cruise Lines while Quimod owned and operated a number bars and clubs in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area in Texas including the acclaimed Shiraz World Cuisine and Fine Wine restaurant that won Best New Restaurant of the Year in 2004 by the readers of Ft. Worth Weekly.
Born in the Phillipines and raised in the U.K., Quimod brings a diverse and flavorful dimension to what he calls “entree paninis.”
“I try to find an ingredient that elevate the sandwich,” he said. “Like with the turkey and bacon sandwich, that’s a pretty standard sandwich but the onion marmalade takes to an entirely new level.”
Sandwiches are named after local references such as the “Peace Arch,” a pastrami reuben with sauerkraut and Russian dressing (no thousand island here); the “Border Rites” which includes bacon, basil aioli, onion marmalade and mozzarella; the “Barrio del Norte,” a spicy take on the tradional huevos rancheros, or eggs with chile sauce; and the “D Street,” which boasts thick Hempler’s bacon, aioli, roasted turkey, avocado and onion marmalade.
“We wanted to keep things simple but I don’t want it to be too simple,” he said. “I wanted a menu that reached outside of the borders of Bline but was still accessible.”
With the exception of paninis, the menu is nebulous and always changing with Quimod’s adventurous whims. One day might feature kari kari, or the classic Filipino adobo or a Chermoula chickpea veggie burger with sundried tomatos, gorgonzola and aioli. The unsual combination of earthy middle eastern spices is fantastically accented by the bright notes of sweet sundried tomato and pungent blue cheese.
Other winners are the Italian egg drop soup and the spinach cobb salad.
Bestul said they will also be experimenting with a dinner menu soon.
The Little Red Caboose is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily except Tuesday. They are located at 795 Peace Portal Drive in Blaine an can be reached by calling 332-1900.