My favorite meal in 2012? Easy. Willows Inn at Lummi Island is a small inn on a small island in Washington, with a restaurant helmed by Chef Blaine Wetzel, a young native of the area who had worked at Noma (you know, the world's best restaurant). When they talk about local ingredients, they really mean it. It isn't just produce from the state, but really local. Chef Wetzel forages around the island. A lot of the fish used are caught in the waters around the island, just five minutes from the restaurant.
There's only one seating every night which is at 6:30. The ferry only runs every hour and we didn't want to be late, so we took the 5PM ferry and ended up with time on our hands when we got to Willows Inn. Time to sit on the patio staring into the sunset while sipping cocktails. The cocktails here had quite a few interesting ingredients. I loved the Pacific Gin Fizz (gin, wild pineapple weed, egg white - $14)
What is wild pineapple weed, you ask? I didn't know it then but apparently it's wild chamomile. Whatever it was, it was my favorite out of the cocktails we tried. We also had time to peek into the kitchen as they were prepping.
Finally we got called and seated in the small dining room.
As you open the treasure box: a whiff of smoke, and baked sunflower root
Next is a Crispy crepe with salmon roe, sandwiched between green onions. The crepe was a thin crisped salmon that held everything in a perfect bite-sized morsel.
Pickled oyster with sorrel was beautifully presented on a bowl of rocks
Toasted kale with black truffle and rye, light and crispy and savory. If we could only get a stash of these for snacks.
Salt baked beets, berries, and goat's milk
King salmon, cucumber, and horseradish
The next snack is a simple shiitake over fire (one friend was allergic to shiitake so she got a pepper instead).
Organic grains with geoduck and watercress, paired with 2011 Efeste Feral Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, WA (all the wines are local, though sometimes they would have wines from Oregon)
Smoked sockeye salmon
Grilled onion with rhubarb and thyme, paired with 2010 Ross Andrew Meadow Pinot Blanc - Columbia Gorge, WA
The bread came on hot stones to keep them warm while we eat. And even though the butter was great, it came with something even better. Something we could't stop eating and polished off with the last of our bread: pan drippings.
Pickled chanterelles with arugula and fresh cheese, paired with 2011 Mt Baker Vineyards Madeleine - Angevine, Puget Sound, WA
Crispy halibut skin with razor clams
Roast duck and charred frisee with homemade capers, paired with 2011 Boedecker "Athena" Pinot Noir - Willamette Valley, OR
Our palate cleanser was Wild Plum with a granita of some small berry I wasn't familiar with, but they did the job of cleansing our palates wonderfully.
For dessert: blueberries with woodruff and malt, paired with 2009 Brian Carter Cellars "Opulento" - Port style wine, Yakima Valley, WA
The woodruff ice cream in this dessert was the star, absolutely amazing. Not knowing how you would even approach making woodruff ice cream, this along with most of our meal, was utterly unique. One would have to come to Lummi Island to have it.
We loved the tea service as well. A box of loose leaf teas were brought to our table so we can open each bottle and smell them before deciding.
2579 W Shore Dr
Lummi Island, WA