Even though I work less than two blocks away from the Redlight Wine Bar on Bellingham’s State Street, I’m here to admit it took me nearly seven months to make it inside.
Since husband-and-wife team Rebecca Ogden and Shea Hagan opened the eatery last New Year’s Eve, I’ve been hearing great things about the space from those who appreciate a good meal and a place to chill out and drink a nice glass of adult grape juice (or two). I also was aware they offer live music a few times a week, pointing the way for even more reasons to visit.
But it wasn’t until I heard the word “BINGO!” that I knew the time had come to step through the Redlight’s doors and make myself at home. The opportunity to drink wine and play the numbers game doesn’t come around very often—well, at least not more than once a week, if you’re talking about the Redlight’s upcoming lineup—and so I gathered together a gaggle of dollar bills, hopped on my Trek cruiser and rode through the warm summer night to my destination point.
A friend who’s savvy to the workings of the Redlight suggested we meet an hour before the bingo game was underway so as to have time to order food and enjoy it before the craziness of the competition took over.
I arrived a few minutes early and slid into a table by the front door. In the time I was alone, I took in the brick walls, high ceilings and chic-but-comfortable surroundings, perused the menu and realized there were still a few happy hour minutes left. I ordered a glass of house white ($5 regularly, $4 during happy hour), but waited to order further until my date showed up.
I was glad I did. As a person familiar with the Redlight’s menu, she was succinct in recommending what she wanted. “I think we should split a meat and cheese plate and a ham and gruyere sandwich,” she advised.
When I reminded her I’m trying to limit my red meat intake these days, we compromised on the choices. We kept the meat and cheese plate ($12) on the roster, but switched out the ham for a turkey, pesto, organic tomato and aged cheddar sandwich ($10).
As I sipped my chilled wine and we waited for the appetizer plate to show up, I discovered more about the venue’s offerings. I found out that although the menu is not gargantuan, what’s there is high quality and incorporates local, organic ingredients as often as possible.
A variety of salads ($6-$10) utilize everything from smoked salmon to raspberries, pecans, fresh tomatoes and avocado, and all bread used in the appetizers and sandwiches—which come in both the meaty and vegetarian variety—are sourced from Edison’s Bread Farm. Additionally, the wine and beer selections are constantly rotating, so there’s always a chance to try something new and tasty.
While we were only a party of two, with a little extra bread, the meat and cheese plate we ordered could easily have appetized at least four hungry people. The beast and dairy servings were plentiful—there were three varieties of each—and we even had some leftover brie when all was said and done. I ate the entire bowl of pitted kalamata olives myself, as my companion “doesn’t like the texture.”
By the time our sandwich came, the Redlight was beginning to fill up with those eager to win bingo prizes. The door was opened to allow the warm breeze to enter the space, and I ordered a Crispin dry cider ($4) to slake my continuing thirst.
The sandwich turned out to be just what I wanted. It was filling without being overly heavy, and savory without being overdone. The house salad that came with the meal was just served with some of the best vinaigrette I’ve ever had (this is not an exaggeration).
Happily sated, we turned our attention to the upcoming games. Hostess Kamarie Chapman was onsite by then, and she filled the crowd in on the particulars: There’d be no daubers, no smoking and plenty of prizes would be doled out to those who lined up the right numbers.
The next couple hours were kind of a blur. I spent a total of $10 on bingo boards and came close to winning on a couple occasions, but didn’t win any prizes—not the $20 gift certificate to the Temple Bar, the various coupons for local businesses, the Darth Vader bong, the bottle of Redlight wine, the three-hour guest DJ spot or the final cash prize. Did I have fun anyway? I sure did. (And I apologize to those winners whose names I besmirched along the way.)
I was also glad to hear that, during the course of July’s bingo games, more than $500 was raised for that month’s nonprofit, L.A.M.B. (Living Arts and Music Bellingham). The fun will continue at 8pm every Wednesday in August, and those who play this month will help raise funds for Northwest Youth Services.
Next time I come to the Redlight, I’m going to find out more about the butcher that was murdered in the historic building and see if I can cajole the vinaigrette recipe out of whoever’s working that night. While I’m at it, I’ll order some wine and settle in for another game of bingo.
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