We were so excited for our anniversary dinner at the Willows Inn, that we arrived 30 minutes early! We had locally foraged drinks on the deck from Taft’s Cocktails while we were waiting for our table to be ready. I had the Sunset Beach Martini with lavender and blueberry vinegar. We had heard so many great things about the Willow Inn restaurant, including, Chef Blaine Wetzel was the “chef-de-partie at noma in Copenhagen that repeatedly garnered recognition as the best restaurant in the world.’ ‘Since arriving on Lummi Island and becoming a partner in the new ownership group, Wetzel has attracted international attention. Last year Food & Wine magazine named him Best New Chef of 2012 and he became a James Beard Award semifinalist in the Pacific Northwest for the third year in a row.’
‘Wetzel brands his exquisite meals with a commitment to island and locally-sourced ingredients and the traditions of farm-to-table preparation. He designs a provocative, yet honest food presentation, delivering much of it to the tables himself.
You’ll experience salmon caught around the corner and cooked to moist tenderness right on the Willows Inn grounds in our specialty smokehouse; seaweed gathered from the beach out front, and berries plucked from the back fields. Wetzel’s food brings you into an intimate relationship with the landscape he loves, allowing you to touch, taste, see and smell the ocean, the coastal lands, the soft gray light on the water.”
” We were thrilled to sit down, viewing the kitchen, and to open the cool leather bound menus. The first “snack” was a smoked oyster in a cedar smoke box with beach stones. The smell alone was mouthwatering and it was a delicious morsel. The menu was informative with information on where the food came from and the depictions were enchanting too. We ate most of these delectable seafood creatures and vegetables illustrated in the menu! The second “snack” was a crispy crepe with salmon roe on top of fragrant hay! In between courses, we appreciated the paintings around our table too. Our next “snack” was kale with black truffle and rye served on a heart shaped rock. It was like a crispy chip! We also had a “snack” of young goat tartare. It was surprisingly non-gamey and smooth. We also had a grilled shiitake mushroom “snack” harvested from nearby, on the island. The first dinner course was a beautiful bowl of ancient grains, geoduck and watercress. The smoked sockeye “snack” was one of our favorites! Another course was dried beets glazed with lingonberries and bone marrow. Each course was served by one of the sous chefs, or Chef Blaine Wetzel. When Chef Blaine Wetzel came to our table, he had an infectious grin and an exuberance that made it obvious he was so proud of his food! We also had slow roasted leeks with elderberries and black cod, as well as wild blackberries with grasses. Our favorite dessert was the blueberries with woodruff and malt for dessert! We had no idea that we liked the herb, woodruff, so much! There were a few other snacks and courses that I forgot to photograph because I was so eager to eat them. Fortunately we received a menu at the end of the meal to remind us of all the courses! I almost forgot to mention the amazing Washington/Oregon wine pairing with all the courses! We had a couple of Walla Walla wines, including the stunning Rasa “Composer” Riesling. We also enjoyed two Oregon Pinot Noirs!
Mr. F and I were delighted to celebrate our anniversary at Willows Inn. We cannot wait for an excuse to go back! We may even ask to have our table watching the kitchen again. The staff had a synergistic choreography in the kitchen and they all looked genuinely happy working together. We also asked if our friend with a shellfish allergy would be able to enjoy their courses and the staff said they would be happy to accommodate!! I cannot wait to go back!