Anelia’s Kitchen & Stage
If you’re looking for a cozy restaurant with live music serving up European food with a Pacific Northwest flair, look no further than Anelia’s Kitchen & Stage in La Conner. Jennifer Ferry grew up in Pittsburgh cooking alongside her Polish grandmother, Anelia. Babcia Anelia taught Ferry how to prepare traditional Polish dishes from scratch. She’s the reason Ferry’s potato and cheese pierogies are perfectly crisp on the outside with an ultra-velvety filling, the homemade sauerkraut is briny and pleasantly sour, and why her golabki, or stuffed cabbage rolls, have tender cabbage leaves wrapped around a hearty filling and smothered in a slightly sweet, zingy sauce. A framed photo of Anelia sits on the counter, overlooking the restaurant’s patrons and serving as a reminder of Ferry’s roots.
Ferry had always wanted to open a restaurant. She envisioned a space that gathered together people, food, and music “where people feel comfortable and at home.” That space turned out to be La Conner’s 513 South 1st Street, where a bank once stood. Ferry teamed with Matt Farrell to renovate the space and put her dream into motion. Once the restaurant opened, Farrell took the lead in booking music.
Anelia’s Kitchen & Stage books all types of live acoustic music, but you’ll usually hear folk and Americana style. Farrell ensures acts don’t detract from the eating experience with blowout-your-eardrums music. He admits the beginning was tough. To book performers, he spent a lot of time social-media stalking and organized open mic nights, which sometimes didn’t turn out too well. Thankfully, now great bands come to him. Sometimes patrons even take it upon themselves to have impromptu jam sessions with the stage instruments.
With an inviting, homey space and music ready to go, the menu needed to be addressed. Enter La Conner native, chef and farmer Ben Guadagnoli. Before Anelia’s Guadagnoli felt worn-down and creatively stifled at other restaurants. Inspired by Ferry and Farrell’s vision for a music and food-gathering place, he joined the team. “What they were trying to do was exactly what this town needed,” he said. Guadagnoli brings an eclectic, creative style to Ferry’s traditional Polish fare. Inspired by local, seasonal ingredients (which Anelia’s uses in all its dishes), he prepares a variety of options such as Asian-inspired, BBQ, and Spanish. Ferry says the influx of a variety of flavors and inspiration keep it fun and interesting, especially for regular customers. Guadagnoil makes the brats and hot sausages from scratch, using his own spice mix and handcasing the meats. His savory elk-filled Sasquatch pierogies topped with a sweet berry sauce sold out in two hours when they debuted. He’s been known to make Spanishstyle paella just because he felt inspired. It’s not surprising you’ll find some of the best food in a restaurant where a chef’s creativity is celebrated.
A welcoming atmosphere, local food prepared with care, and great music make Anelia’s Kitchen & Stage a must-visit. The more than 25 house-infused Polish vodkas and myriad of local beers on tap will make you wonder why you didn’t visit sooner. Na zdrowie!
513 1st St., La Conner
360.399.1805 | aneliaskitchenandstage.com