Despite its name, Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream is neither in the town of Snoqualmie, nor anywhere near the famous falls. And there's more than...

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Despite its name, Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream is neither in the town of Snoqualmie, nor anywhere near the famous falls. And there’s more than just ice cream on the menu.

Admirable house-made soups ($3.50-$4.50) are seasoned with herbs plucked from the restaurant’s gardens. Fresh salads ($6.95-$8.95) are big enough to make a meal. The splendid sandwiches ($7.50-$8.95), built on organic breads from Essential Baking Co., are stacked with house-roasted meats and other quality ingredients.

The kitchen is headed by Daren Compton, formerly executive chef at Bellevue’s Nordstrom Grill. He or one of the owners, Barry and Shahnaz Bettinger, is likely to be behind the counter taking orders, tossing salads, assembling sandwiches or scooping ice-cream treats.

The Bettingers moved the company from Lynnwood to Maltby, Snohomish County, two years ago, because they needed a bigger plant.

The property had room for an adjacent cafe, and they developed both with an eye on energy efficiency and environmentally-friendly principles and practices. Their business was the first to be endorsed by the Sustainable Development Task Force of Snohomish County.

The plant, disguised as a red barn, blends harmoniously with the rural landscape and the white-steepled church on the opposite corner. Pervious concrete, which filters rainwater and reduces erosion, paves the drive-through, the parking lot and the patio, where tables and chairs border a garden of blooming lavender, herbs and native plants.

The remodeled split-level rambler that houses the cafe retains a comfortable, homey charm; it’s like a great room with the ice-cream parlor on one side and overstuffed easy chairs flanking a flagstone hearth at the other. From the dining room you can view a glass-walled exhibition kitchen where groups gather for ice-cream making parties ($20 per person). They create the flavor of their choice, enjoy pizza and ice cream while it freezes, then each gets a half-gallon to carry home. Now that’s a treat bag!

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Salmon Niçoise salad: Sprawled over a field of romaine, the generously sized fish fillet is chilled and deliciously moist even before you anoint it with a tart, well-balanced vinaigrette spiked with Dijon mustard. The sprightly dressing, like a good choir director, makes all the ingredients — capers, hard-cooked egg, kalamata olives, haricots verts (French green beans), grape tomatoes and cold roasted potatoes — wake up and sing.

Caprese sandwich: Creamy soft mozzarella, ripe Roma tomatoes and fresh basil are a formidable trio in late summer. Add some good olive oil, a splash of balsamic and pesto aioli moistening a chewy bolo roll, and you have a stunning sandwich in your hands.

Turkey, lemon and rice soup: Lemon lifts this hearty, herby soup out of the ordinary. Each spoonful finds something new: shreds of turkey; bits of carrot, tomato, celery, leafy greens and zucchini; as well as rosemary, thyme and parsley.

Ice cream: Who could leave without a pint or a scoop? Take a chance on Bubble Gum or Coconut Rum, or play it safe: The fabulous strawberry ice cream is made with Skagit Valley fruit; the seductively silky chocolate gelato is as dense and intense as a frozen truffle.

Itemized bill, meal for two

Salmon Niçoise salad, $8.95

Caprese sandwich, $8.95

Cup of soup, $3.50

2 ice-cream cones, $6.00

Sobe Green Tea, $1.95

Fresh lemonade, $2.00

Tax, $2.28

Total$33.63

Providence Cicero: providencecicero@aol.com