Ikaika Bistro, Langley, WA., 8/18/23

building – 14096 WA-525, Langley, WA 98260 (soon to move)

Ikaika Bistro was in the American Foreign Legion building when we visited but you’re in luck because they’ll be in a new location by the time you read this.  Stephanie and Chris Balora own the place that serves Polynesian cuisine among other dishes.  Opening in Sept. of 2022, Chris named the place Ikaika which means “strong” or “warrior” in his native Hawaiian language.  It’s a 2-person operation with Stephanie taking your order and busing tables while Chris does the cooking.  They’ve had good success which is why in Sept 2023 they are going to move their restaurant to a food truck in downtown Langley where they’ll have indoor and outdoor seating and be near a coffee shop, which is good as they serve breakfast and lunch. So I won’t describe the AFL building, just include a couple photos, but the move will create a major improvement in the ambiance.  The couple are the nicest people and easily make conversation with guests filling them in our their journey to get to this spot.  The food was novel, generous and tasty and I hope you’ll give it a try if you are in the area. Continue reading

Orchard Kitchen, Langley, WA., 8/17/23

seating area – 5574 Bayview Rd, Langley, WA 98260

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. Continue reading

Langley Kitchen, Langley, WA., 8/17/23

building – 138 Second Street, Langley, WA 98260

Owner Jim Goodall opened Langley Kitchen in November 2020 after running a restaurant in Seattle.  He thought Langley needed more baked goods, especially cookies and set up shop there during the pandemic.  He was ready for portable food with the inside having no tables just the kitchen and items for sale.  You line up and order at the counter, then they call your name out a back window where there is a lovely patio to eat on.  The metal tables are surrounded by red Japanese maple trees with overhead heaters for when needed.  They offer a variety of salads, baked goods and sandwiches for both breakfast and lunch.  Their logo features an owl with a quiver holding a spoon and fork, rather than arrows.  We tried 2 of their sandwiches a bar cookie and it was all delicious.  This place should be on your list if you’re on Whidbey Island. Continue reading

Ultra House, Langley, WA., 8/16/23



exterior – 221 Second Street # 9A, Langley, WA 98260

Ultra House opened in 2018 when the owners, Denis and Cheryl Zimmerman were ready for a lifestyle change and Denis wanted to honor his Japanese roots.  Already living on Whidbey Island they thought the town was ready for a ramen shop.  It’s a tiny shop in Langley Village, where you can’t park in front of it.  There are a few counter spots and several large interior tables as well as some tables on the patio.   The larger tables can be shared.  Shelves line the walls, housing items for sale and some art is scattered about. They have a good selection of beer, sake and wine and a small menu that features variations on ramen and rice bowls.  It is very casual but if you need a ramen fix this is the place to go. Continue reading

Saltwater Fish House and Oyster Bar, Langley, WA., 8/16/23

exterior – 113 1st St, Langley, WA 98260

Saltwater Fish House and Oyster Bar was opened in July 2017 by Jenn and Sieb Jurriaans, who also operate the nearby Prima Bistro restaurant.  They try and source their seafood from Coupeville’s Penn Cove Shellfish except for the lobster which comes from Maine. It’s a fairly small place and they take no reservations so people start lining up before the doors open.  Inside are small wood tables (counter seating at the bar and in the middle of the room), music and photos of fish and other nautical items.   Some fish nets hanging from the ceiling are decorated with glass fish.  The full bar also offers a number of beers on tap.  Service was friendly, efficient and helpful.  It’s about the only seafood restaurant in town but my reaction to the food was mixed.  Dinner offered more choices especially if you don’t want fried seafood. Continue reading

Canlis, Seattle, 11/9/19


Canlis is a large place on a hill overlooking Seattle.  The interior and view from the windows is spectacular.  The interior is filled with stone and wood with windows along many sides to enjoy the view.  The tables are on different levels so all can look out.  The well spaced good sized tables are covered with white clothes and matching napkins.  Lighting is lowered and live piano music is in the background.  The piano is in the bar which is the first part of the building and short barriers provide privacy as well as good sound dampening, but the lovely sounds surrounds all.  The menu is a fixed price for 4 course with a 20% service charge added to all bills.  Each of the 4 courses has 5 choices.  Service was excellent, attentive without being intrusive and the meal pacing was good – not too fast or too slow.  Portion control was also good. Continue reading

Matt’s in the Market (update), Seattle, 11/9/19


It’s been 2 years since we visited Matt’s in the Market across form Pike Place Market.  The nice sized bare wood tables are set with paper napkins and fairly well spaced considering that the place is not that large.  At lunch they did have a couple specials to supplement the a la carte menu as well as wine specials (but they couldn’t locate any of the bottles).  Music is in the background, 2 sides of the place are windows and an open kitchen is in one corner of the space.  They have been there 24 years and prior to they were in a smaller space.  The food is wonderful and the service friendly and efficient.

sign on the stairs

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Willows Inn (update), Lummi Island, 11/8/19

dining room

It’s been about 2 years since we visited Willows Inn and this time it was late fall as opposed to summer.  The physical place hasn’t changed but the fall means shorter days and disrupts the view from the dining room.  It also means you can’t have the starter courses outside on the porch and instead everyone piled into the area by a large fireplace with seating being very varied.   Some were on benches, some sat at the bar on stools and there were a couple of sets of chairs by small tables, which I preferred.  The lighting was much darker as the room only was lit by candles and the fire – and that also made it quite warm.  Otherwise the system is pretty much the same.  You start with a series of snacks and then move into seafood and then protein to dessert.  It seemed like a lighter menu this time.   The dining room had just 12 tables with a painted wood  ceiling, narrow planked wood floor, music in the background with a sliding door to the kitchen at one end of the room.  In an adjacent room was a larger table for 6. Continue reading

Kate’s Greek & American, Everett, WA./ 11/8/19


Kate’s Greek & American restaurant is a medium sized colorful place on a busy street near lots of shops.  Booths are on two long sides of the space with tables in the middle.  The chairs are mostly different as are the table cloths.  Windows to the street are on one end and the kitchen and prep area are opposite that.  Above there were 2 large boards with the specials on them.  Lots of art is on the walls and much of it was for sale.  They serve only breakfast and lunch, both all day.  The server was really friendly and offered good advice when ordering. Continue reading

Matt’s in the Market, Seattle, 8/26/17

IMG_8721Matt’s in the Market is on the second floor of a building overlooking the popular Pike Place Market.  There are plenty of signs directing you to get there.  We have been there for lunch a number of times and always enjoyed it so it was time to try it for dinner and that was a great decision.  The place is extremely busy thus reservations are a must and noise level is moderate.  There are a few stools facing the bar and tables fill the rest of the room.  Windows get a lot of sun during the day but look directly down on the busy Market, which is a show in itself.  An open kitchen is in an ‘L’ shape and the tables next to it are another fun show with the kitchen movements and the variety of ingredients in jars atop the divider.  The staff were all friendly and go out of their way to make your visit wonderful.  For example, one of our martinis arrived with an olive rather than a lemon.  Rather than replace the garnish a whole new one was made and brought to us without asking.   Continue reading

The Steelhead Diner, Seattle, 8/26/17


The Steelhead Diner is a large place right next to Pike Place Market.   Two walls of windows look out over the crowds of people.  Seating is in booths, bar counter and kitchen counter stools and tables.  Decorations between the booths is with acrylic encased fly fishing lures and photos of lures also decorate the walls.  On the weekend the midday menu is for brunch.  Service is efficient and friendly and the noise level is livable.  It is a great location with a lively crowd but the unexciting food lacks soul.   Continue reading

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.   Continue reading

Il Corvo, Seattle, 8/25/17


Il Corvo is a small place  where there is almost always a line to get in.  I actually heard someone behind me exclaim happily that this was the first time the line hadn’t been around the corner for her.  The line was a mix of locals and tourists but definitely not for those on a lunch break as we waited 45 minutes to order and the line did get longer.  The restaurant is only open for lunch on weekdays and does accept credit cards.  The line takes you to the order counter, which according to their posted etiquette rules is where you head first (as opposed to claiming a table).  Seating is assigned by the counter person after she takes your order.  Parties of 3 or more will probably get their own table but twos will be placed with others and there is a larger table for singles.   Continue reading