If you’re looking for king-sized burgers with piles of French fries, don’t stop here. But if you want a healthy, delicious homemade meal served in reasonably-sized portions, the Blythe Cricket, newly opened at the north end of Joseph, is for you.
Owners/chefs Margaret Lamm and Rachael Nutter have transformed their catering service into their dream: a full-fledged restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and once-per-week special Italian dinners. Their espresso machine serves up Nossa Familia, a Portland-roasted fair trade coffee from Brazil. And like their new building, all their food is made from scratch.
“Food is nutrition,” Lamm said, “not just a burger and fries.” She should know. Before opening the Blythe Cricket with Nutter, Lamm was the Director of Nutritional Services at Wallowa Memorial Hospital. “Our foods are wild caught or farm-raised, and made with simple ingredients,” Lamm said.
The restaurant’s “made from scratch” philosophy means locally sourced as well. The menu for breakfast and lunch includes in-house baked English Muffins, bacon and ham that are uncured and nitrate-free, and beef raised by Wallowa County rancher Rod Childers. The portions are generous, but not overwhelming. “We don’t like to waste food,” Nutter said. “So we provide servings that are about the size you’d be eating at home.”
The “eating at home” and locally-sourced philosophy extends to the china and tableware, and even the building itself. Every single dish, bowl and plate in the Blythe Cricket is “second-hand,” purchased used from someone’s home or estate sale. “We like to pay homage to the cooks and families who came before us,” Lamm said. Some are vintage, others just from the sturdy settings of the 80’s or 90’s. Each plate seems to offer a story of a local family, and of the many dishes it held. “I wish they all could talk,” Nutter said. “It’s fun when people come in and say “wow—this plate is just like the one’s my grandmother had.”
Like the china, the tables all have past histories as well. The colorful, chrome-banded dining sets have all seen prior service—one in Lamm’s home. The gleaming dark wooden table near the restaurant’s center was hand-made from the boards of an old cattle chute by Lamm’s husband, Clayton. He also constructed the three “cricket” tables, each of which sequesters a 2-foot-long Steve Arment cricket carving that supports the polished wood table-top. The Blythe Cricket’s dome-like ceiling is made of blue pine sourced from Wallowa. The shingle-siding came from a small mill in Idaho.
Why the name Blythe Cricket? “Blythe” is actually my middle name,” Lamm said. “But it also means ‘happy.’ We want to be happy, and we want our customers to be happy. The Cricket part? Both Lamm and Nutter started using the word “cricket” as a verb when they ran their catering business. “You know, Nutter said, “to cricket means to be really active and get things done. We called ourselves the Cricket Sisters because we were always busy.”
In the future, The Blythe Cricket plans to offer wine, beer and cocktails, as well as possibly music on the patio or inside their spacious restaurant. They may expand their “by reservations only” Italian dinner offerings, which are proving popular as well. Happy and active seems to be their destiny as well as their name.