Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Washington, 8/25/17

Willows Inn
Willows Inn

The Willows Inn is several hours of driving north of Seattle and a short ferry ride to the small Lummi Island.  The setting is lovely, overlooking the water and surrounded by greenery.  The Inn has a few rooms available for rent on the property as well as some places on the island but not on the property.  Plenty of parking is by the buildings or across the street near the entrance to their private beach front.  There is a nice porch on two sides of the main building, all with great views, a nice living room like room and a good sized dining room with individual tables.  After checking in, where there are a number of house made snacks to try, you are invited to enjoy the bar until dinner is served promptly at 6:00.   Dinner is an extended tasting menu that started on the shaded porch and then you are escorted into your table in the dining room.  Wine pairings are offered and it looked like generous pours however we chose to order our own wines off the almost all locally sourced wine list.  

check in buidling
check in buidling
snacks at the reception desk
snacks at the reception desk
closer
closer
beverages
beverages
flowers and wood grill
flowers and wood grill
large inside table
large inside table
main dining room
main dining room
about The Willows Inn
about The Willows Inn
Frankie sniffed the plant on the patio table
Frankie sniffed the plant on the patio table

 

We started with a couple of their featured cocktails while waiting for the dinner to start.  They were colorful and not too strong.

Cocktails
Cocktails
Frankie and cocktails
Frankie and cocktails (Black Forest: rye whiskey, black currant and bonal; East-West Sour: mezcal, shiso and egg white)
porch
porch
porch
porch

 

With the porch side food items they served a local sparkling cider that matched well with all the tastes and was quite refreshing.

cider
cider
'Log Cabin' cider
‘Log Cabin’ cider
patio
patio
patio
patio

 

The Willows Inn has its own garden on the island and the tasting started with items from it.  A variety of cucumbers were amazingly different textures for a similar taste of cucumber.  A bit of salt could have enhanced these but this was about as fresh as it could get.

Variety of cucumbers from the garden
Variety of cucumbers from the garden
closer
closer

 

The heirloom melons were tastes of 3 varieties.   The green one was not too sweet but the middle one was sweet, soft and perfumed like a musk melon and the outer orange one was very sweet and good.  All had a perfect ripe texture to the bite. Delicious and simple.

Heirloom melon
Heirloom melons
from the top
from the top

 

Island plums were a number of varieties of wild plums.   The sweetness and softness varied but they were all excellent with strong flavors of sweet, ripe plums.

Island plums
Island plums
closer
closer

 

The spot prawns and rhubarb ceviche was served in nasturtium leaves with lots of herbs.  The prawns were locally sourced and had a terrific flavor and texture.  The leaves actually added a lot to the dish rather than just being a pouch to hold the ceviche.

Spot prawn and rhubarb ceviche
Spot prawn and rhubarb ceviche
another angle
another angle

 

Toasted kale leaves were dotted with local truffles and rye crumbles.  The kale was wonderfully crisp and the truffles had a great truffle flavor.  This was a standout.  The texture and flavors were outstanding!

Toasted kale leaves
Toasted kale leaves

 

A cute wood box was next with a smoking mussel inside.  The mussel had been smoked and caramelized and placed back in the shell on top of a paste of something.  The smoke coming out of the box served to intensify the depth of this one’s flavor.  Really good.

presentation
presentation
smoked oyster
smoked mussel
mussel
mussel

 

Reefnet-caught sockeye salmon was glazed with something delicious.  It was brought with wet towels for your hands as it was to be pulled apart and eaten with your fingers.  It was an amazing color with a taste to match.  I’m not normally a salmon lover but I scarfed up every bit of this that my husband didn’t grab first.

reefnet-caught sockeye salmon
reefnet-caught sockeye salmon
Frankie wanted a bite
Frankie wanted a bite
Frankie liked the towels to wipe your hands
Frankie liked the towels to wipe your hands

 

The last outdoor course was a savory donut – now you’re singing my song.  These however were filled with smoked black cod.  The amazing doughy donut filled with this rich fish was simply divine.  It had a sprinkle of something on top that really took it to the next level.  Another offering that I could have eaten a plate of alone.

savory donut
savory donut
inside
inside

 

Inside the wooden tables are set with varying flowers and flatware.  According to one of the servers all the servers always are on the lookout for interesting utensils and are known to pick any pretty flowers they see and bring into the mix.  It works somehow and just comes off welcoming rather than jumbled – maybe that’s because all the staff were incredibly friendly, welcoming and helpful.  Native oysters were served in a broth of wildcress.  The green was quite strong but the briny perfect flavor of the oysters came through for another nice offering.

interior
interior
interior
interior
inside table set up
inside table set up
Native oysters and wildcress
Native oysters and wildcress
closer
closer
Frankie and the table flowers
Frankie and the table flowers
IMG_8530
nice floor

 

Chilled hakurei turnip soup was served with sturgeon caviar and turnip tops in a caramelized squid broth.  The turnip was so tender and the caviar had a fun pop to it. It all mixed together wonderfully or was delightful as separate components.

Chilled hakurei turnip soup
Chilled hakurei turnip soup
closer
closer
Frankie enjoys a real candle
Frankie enjoys a real candle
wine
wine

 

Lightly cured rockfish was sliced and served in a broth of kelp oil and rockfish bones.  A bit of jellied material helped but while good this one didn’t measure up to the previous courses.

Lightly-cured rockfish in a broth of bones
Lightly-cured rockfish in a broth of bones
closer
closer

 

Geoduck clam had been grilled whole and then carved  and served with a sauce from its liver and topped with crispy bread crumbs.  The creamy sauce was good and the crumbs added a wonderful textural contrast to the chewy clam.  It was an excellent dish – the wow factor was back in full gear here.

Grilled geoduck clam
Grilled geoduck clam
closer
closer
Frankie watched the cooking out the window
Frankie watched the cooking out the window

 

The herb tostada was a really crispy mustard green topped with something that held a pile of herbs on top.  Amazing tastes and textures again along with being stunning to look at.

Herb tostada
Herb tostada
closer
closer
underneath
underneath
from the side
from the side
working the outdoor grill
working the outdoor grill

 

Wild venison leg from the Cascades had been aged since May and then was skewered with chanterelle mushrooms and venison leg tendon.  The leg meat was full of flavor and so tender in perfect contrast to the chewy gummy tendon.  The mushrooms had been slightly salted to cap off the perfection of this dish.  All parts were really good and worked together perfectly.  Really fun to eat.

Aged venison leg
Aged venison leg
closer
closer
Frankie thought the salt bowl was her size
Frankie thought the salt bowl was her size

 

A piece of roasted costata zucchini was brought next along with a bowl of nasturtium sauce.  The zucchini had been roasted with chamomile and was scooped tableside to be plated with the sauce.  This was not a favorite.  Nothing wrong with it just the flavor didn’t appeal to me.  It was done beautifully, though.

serving the roasted zucchini with nasturtium in front
serving the roasted zucchini with nasturtium in front
Roasted costata zucchini and nastrutium
Roasted costata zucchini and nastrutium
closer
closer
Frankie checked it out
Frankie checked it out

 

Sour dough bread made from heirloom wheat was next served with Dungeness crab.  The crab was served in the shell with crab custard in a totally buttery broth. No spread needed for the bread, it was there to mop up every bit of the crab custard and broth.  Absolutely delicious crab and sauce.  Yum x3!

Bread from heirloom wheat
Bread from heirloom wheat
Crab brain
Crab brain
closer
closer
from the other side
from the other side
the sunset and ships
the sunset and ships
Frankie goes crazy for flowers
Frankie goes crazy for flowers

 

Albacore tuna with poblano peppers and eggplant was another winner.  In addition to the tuna loin there was a slice of the tuna belly.  A tiny dot of sauce was fermented wildflowers.  The tuna loin was truly great with a totally different texture than the belly.  The peppers were a fun addition as was the eggplant.  I was not sold on the sauce but none was needed with this fine dish.

Albacore with poblano peppers
Albacore with poblano peppers
closer
closer
Frankie loves candles
Frankie loves candles

 

A tea of toasted birch branches tasted just like you were licking a tree.  Totally fresh taste but don’t know if I’m into licking trees, maybe rather just smell them.

pouring the next course
pouring the next course
Toasted birch branches
Toasted birch branches
Frankie appreciated the wonderful flowers everywhere
Frankie appreciated the wonderful flowers everywhere

 

Stewed peaches were served with a rose granita.  The sweet peach and rosy ice were best when eaten together.  Nice.

Stewed peaches and rose granita
Stewed peaches and rose granita
closer
closer
Frankie checked out some of the jars
Frankie checked out some of the jars

 

Anise hyssop ice cream was served with fennel foam and topped with lavender.  It was delicious – the perfectly creamy ice cream combined with the thick rich foam into a heavenly sweetness.

Anise hyssop with lavender
Anise hyssop with lavender
closer
closer
after dinner drink menu
after dinner drink menu
after dinner drinks 1
after dinner drinks 1
after dinner drinks 2
after dinner drinks 2
Frankie was reading to go fishing
Frankie was reading to go fishing
inside
inside

 

Flax seed caramel and black walnut fudge were the final treat and what a great way to end.  Each different but both perfectly sweet, chewy and wonderful.  Yumx2!

IMG_8528
Frankie and an after dinner drink
Flax seed and black walnuts
Flax seed and black walnuts
another angle
another angle
closer
closer
IMG_9017
menu
IMG_9018
pairing list
Chef Blaine Wetzel and Frankie
Chef Blaine Wetzel and Frankie

One thought on “Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Washington, 8/25/17

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