Food & Drink: Wildflour Cafe hauntingly charming

An order of pancakes and the farmer plate at Wildflour Cafe. Rachel Pinsky

Rachel Pinsky

Wildflour Cafe and Cupcakes

• Where: 3010 Evergreen Way, Washougal.

• Hours: 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Monday (no breakfast); 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday (breakfast served until 11 a.m.).

• Contact: 360-835-9075; www.facebook.com/WildflourCafeandCupcakes

The women of Wildflour Cafe and Cupcakes in Washougal feel differently about the ghost that visits their cafe and announces himself by sneezing or whistling. They all believe that it’s the ghost of Mr. V, who ran a general store for many years on the property.

Bethani Higdon, co-owner of the cafe, described one of her meetings with the ghost: “I was here by myself one morning. I was prepping for a catering event. It was about 5 in the morning, it was still dark outside, and the only light was in the kitchen where I was, and I heard really, really loud distinct whistling. The ghost freaks me out.”

Shelley Wurzer, who helps in the kitchen, and Connie Higdon, Bethani Higdon’s mom and co-owner of the cafe, are amused by the ghost. Connie Higdon gets along just fine with Mr. V’s ghost.

“He remembers me from when I was little. We would buy ice cream and popcorn there. Mom bought gas there. I am sure he remembers me so he likes me, so he doesn’t give me any trouble,” she said.

They may not agree on Mr. V’s ghost, but they agree that they love their customers. When I met with them recently, they were concerned about a dapper older gentleman — a Navy veteran who had survived the attack on Pearl Harbor when he was 17. They hadn’t seen him for awhile.

Connie said, “I will call over to the VFW to see if he’s OK. Because, if he needs us to bring food over, we will. We will bring his favorite thing to him. He loves the tomato basil soup. He’s important to our history and our community.”

Veterans get a free coffee or soda all year long at the Wildflour Cafe, and this customer would always show his Navy ID card. Connie said, “I told him, ‘You don’t have to show us your ID, we know you’re a veteran.’ But, he says, ‘I have to for all the friends I lost. It’s in honor of them that I have to show the card,’ and he always does.”

They love their cafe and their customers, but last summer the Higdons decided to close on weekends so that they could spend more time with their family going to the beach, camping and hiking all of their favorite places in the Columbia River Gorge.

Instead, they decided to serve breakfast during the week (except Mondays). Their breakfast menu features sweet dishes like Belgian waffles, French toast, and pancakes. They also serve savory dishes like biscuits and gravy, egg scramble (with bacon, cheddar, spinach and green onions), a breakfast feast called the farmer (biscuits, ham, country potatoes, and gravy topped with two eggs over easy), and classic breakfast plates (with eggs, bacon or sausage and toast).

I ordered a bit of the sweet (the pancakes) and some of the savory (the farmer). The pancakes were light, fluffy and served with whipped butter and real maple syrup. The farmer was a mountain of breakfast-y delights. I gently tapped my fork onto the subtle egg yolks on top, which slowly oozed and cascaded yellow waves of yolky richness over the biscuits, gravy, and golden country potatoes. The biscuits were buttery and fluffy. The gravy was rich and luscious with just the right amount saltiness from bits of bacon and sausage. The country potatoes were crispy and golden brown on the outside and light as air on the inside. The portions were beyond generous.

I used to think that the type of town depicted in Norman Rockwell paintings and the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” were myths. But, every time I visit the Wildflour Cafe, I realize there are places where people treat everyone who stops by with the care and concern afforded beloved family members. The food at Wildflour Cafe will fill your belly, but I keep coming back because the hospitality of this mother-daughter team fills my heart.

[“Source-columbian”]