The Orchard Kitchen was the most farm-to-table place I’ve eaten. The summer dining tasting menu was served behind a barn, housing the kitchen, in between the planted fields that have served as farms since 1914. Chef Vincent Nattress and his wife Tyla own Ebb Tide produce, the farm that surrounded us and produces much of what is served there. They offer one seating at communal tables Thursday through Saturday with an ever-changing menu, depending on what is fresh and available. In the winter they move indoors and also offer cooking classes. Chef Vincent is from Whidbey Island and he and his wife returned there buying this 5-acre farm after operating another restaurant elsewhere and wanting to get back more to basics. Chef starts off the evening with an explanation of what’s to come and acknowledges that the menu is just as new to him as the diners. They offer wine pairings to go with the menu but also have wines by the bottle and glass but no liquor. As the evening went on and people relaxed our table came alive with conversation and bonding over fun food. It helps that they have great weather that can support outdoor dining but regardless it was a wonderful experience filled with fine food and new friends. Go if you can, it’s magical.
The meal started with a welcome cocktail while being shown to your seat and given a chance to view the gardens. It also allowed time for servers to get wine orders taken care of. Then Chef Vincent spoke and said the meal would be served in “waves” of dishes.
Bites to Begin included a Samosa of their potatoes and Bell’s Farm Beef with their mint chutney, a tomato water shooter with cucumber, purple peppers and shiso oil and Wild King Salmon tartare on a Gaufrette chip with creme fraiche and chives. These bites were on one plate. The samosa was on top of the mint chutney and a tasty couple of bites. The shooter was like liquid tomato with celery. The lovely salmon tartare was on a thin crisp potato chip and seasoned with chives which made a terrific bite.
The First Wave
Blistered shishito peppers and spruce tip salt were 2 to a plate. They were not spicy but had a wonderful grilled pepper flavor. Mostly these are not hot peppers, but occasionally one sneaks in but I didn’t get one this time.
Flat bread was on Great White bean purée topped with crispy artichokes. Then all was topped with herb salad and shiso aioli. The flatbread was made with ancient corn and the greens and herbs were all from their garden. Fun textures in this one with mild flavors. I particularly liked the crispy artichokes.
Their poblanos were with charred tomato salsa, fromage blanc and cilantro. This was similar to a deconstructed chili relleno. The poblanos were roasted and then dipped in an egg batter before frying. The fromage blanc was from goat’s milk. More great texture variations here along with a lovely melding of flavors.
Raw scallops were in a rhubarb juice with preserved lemon oil and topped with chicharrones. These scallops were from Alaska and smooth as silk in the mouth. Their mild flavor was well complimented by the tart juice with a punch of crunch from the chicharron.
Local albacore tuna was alongside garden tomatoes, garlic confit, olives, thyme and capers. The perfect tuna was great with the other flavors. I particularly liked the confit garlic and the gloriously ripe tomato.
Cured and smoked wild King salmon was on garden risotto. The salmon was cured and then cooked in a sous vide before grilling. The garden risotto was flavored with kale which gave it a beautiful color to contrast with the salmon. A few scallions finished the tasty bowl. This was amazing, particularly since I’m not usually a salmon lover, but this was a totally delicious combination.
Slow-cooked lamb from Very Local Leg was with lobster mushrooms, lamb jus and their chimichurri. The lamb was from a 2-year Hogget from Greenbank, WA. It was tender and a nice medium rare with a great jus. The sautéed mushrooms were also terrific.
The cheese was Glendale Shepard White cap, steamed brioche, garden pears and almond brittle crumble. The cheese was produced on the island in the style of Camembert. The steamed brioche was similar to a Vietnamese bao bun only lighter. A perfect bread to meld with the sweet pears. Then add the crunch of the almond brittle and you have a winner.
A Napoleon was made from their Shiro plum, Ginger-Mascarpone Chantilly, their Kuban plum preserve and wine gelée. Sheets of phyllo pastry held the thin sliced Shiro plums and the whippy ginger mascarpone Chantilly cream. A line of wine gelée led to a slice of Kuban plum slice. Both plums were sweet and what a fun take on a traditional dessert. This was hard to eat but worth the effort.
Lastly was a bowl with a shortbread cake and a couple slices of strawberry. Perfect buttery cake was more crisp like a cookie and delicious with the wonderfully ripe strawberries. Terrific end to a fine feast.