Tucked away in Fairhaven is Magdalena’s Bistro and Creperie, an eatery notable for its authentic European bites and community-oriented spirit. Inside, customers can expect mouth-watering crepes, a devoted clientele, and– as of this March– stacks of donations to be shipped to Ukrainians, sourced from the community at large.
Magdalena Theisen is the woman behind both the delicious crepes and the charitable donation campaign. Eastern Europe is close to her heart; after all, she emigrated from Poland in 2009 and started Magdalena’s Creperie soon after.
Most of the offerings at Magdalena’s are European-inspired, and the crepes are made according to traditions in Brittany, France (where Magdalena herself learned to prepare them). Eastern European dishes also appear frequently on the menu; while pierogies are a mainstay, other dishes such as Polish golumpki or even Ukrainian borscht occasionally pop up as specials.
While the menu might be internationally inspired, the ingredients themselves are locally sourced. In the summertime, Theisen gets her veggies and fruits from Joe’s Garden– and her very own garden provides the restaurant with herbs. Magdalena’s also offers soups and salads, and Breadfarm in Edison is Theisen’s go-to for bread.
Magdalena’s crepes can be sweet or savory– so obviously we had to try both styles. First up was the No. 7 ($15), which comes filled with prosciutto, brie, and honey. It’s topped with greens and berries tossed in a delightfully zesty dressing. I got mine made with buckwheat, which is both gluten-free and vegan. The richness of the ham and cheese was balanced out by the salad, and the crepe itself was light, crispy, and borderline addictive.
We also tried the daily special, which was a mango-pear crepe filled with ricotta cheese and house-made mango curd, topped with mascarpone cream cheese and fresh berries. Trust me– it was as delicious as it sounds.
Crepes might be the star of the show, but don’t sleep on the Pierogies ($12 for six). We tried ours filled with potatoes and farmer’s cheese, and diners are given the option to have them either pan-fried or boiled.
While the food was undeniably tasty, the best part of our visit was seeing how Theisen had rallied the community to come together to support Ukrainians affected by the war. Given her Eastern European roots, she was inspired to get involved however she could– starting by arranging for an employee’s Ukrainian family to stay with her friend in Poland. Next, she was able to recruit her social media following to donate money and items such as first aid supplies, baby diapers and formula, and more.
At the time of writing, donations are still being dropped off at the restaurant; Theisen has now sent multiple truckloads to Seattle for shipment to Ukraine via the Washington Ukrainian Association.
“My hope is [that] more and more businesses and companies get involved to help,” she says.
It’s impossible to have a meal at Magdalena’s and not leave feeling uplifted, both from the food and the generous spirit of the woman responsible for it all. Of course, this is no accident– Theisen wants her restaurant to be comforting, safe, and perhaps a little nostalgic.
“That’s what I’m happy about– if people come and close their eyes because [the food is] bringing their memory to the past, or to Grandma, or people they left behind,” she says.” This is, for me, the biggest compliment.” 1200 10th St., Ste. 103, Bellingham, 360.483.8569, magdalenascreperie.com