Pickles Deli is in a strip shopping center and open every day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., except Sunday. You can order in or call ahead and get your order to go. The space has a high ceiling and a variety of pickle decorations as well as souvenirs for sale. Lots of tables of different sizes in addition to a few outside are available. In the entry room the walls are hung with bead-art pictures for sale and music is in the background. The counter was busy filling to-go orders when we arrived and so it took a minute to get our order taken but it gave me time to look around and admire the beautiful cash register as well as the many containers of pickles. They had a 3D hanging sign of a girl riding a pickle that was like the flat one on the wall outside the building. The people were friendly and the order came out pretty quick. After you pay at the counter they bring the food out to your table. The sandwiches were well stuffed with nice flavor so add this to your list when you visit Whidbey Island. My main criticism of the place involves the assembly of the sandwich. It was not evenly done, which is tough if you want to split one but it also changes the balance of the flavors. Continue reading
Savory was opened in 2021 by Ron Rois and Stefen Bosworth. They serve a menu inspired by their family, friends and travel from Tuesday to Saturday 4 – 9pm. The restaurant takes no reservations but you can drop by or call ahead and they will give you a waiting list time estimate. From that they call you and you have 15 minutes to show up or your table is passed on. We simply ate earlier in the day and got in the line by the door that formed at 4:00pm. It’s a small place with some patio tables available but they were able to expand seating when they acquired a space at the front of the building. The desire was to make the diner feel like they’ve entered someone’s home and it does just that with the big stuffed chairs and surrounding art pieces. Service was friendly and you could see partially into the kitchen from our table. It was good but not great.
We started the meal with Greens, a mix of greens topped with crumbled goat cheese, roasted sunflower seed and diced tomato and tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. You can substitute Rogue Creamery Caveman Blue cheese for an additional $4 and we took that option. The fresh greens were nicely dressed and the cheese was flavorful. A classic done well.
Bread was a Baguette with garlic and parmesan spread that is ordered separately. The baguette was from Seabiscuit Bakery and served warm with a good crisp to the crust. The spread was nicely softened with a bit of salt on the top.
Short Ribs were braised boneless beef short ribs intensely flavored with the house blend of Chinese five spice blend (including anise, Szechuan peppercorn and cinnamon), tamarind, fresh garlic, ginger and date molasses along with a broth of aromatic vegetables. They are served over sour cream mashed potatoes which includes butter, heavy cream, sour cream and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. The tender meat chunks were served with a reduction of the braising juices. The recipe for these was inspired by a sticky ribs dish from Korea. I found the meat to have more the texture of pot roast than a short rib cut but either way it was tasty.
For dessert we tried the Hello Dollies whose recipe was inspired by Ron’s mom who sent a tin of them every holiday season. Known by many names like ‘magic cookie bars’ or ‘coconut dream bars’ they are a classic of the 1960’s American south. They are made with layers of graham cracker, chocolate, butterscotch and shredded coconut that are melded together with butter and then cut into squares. They came 4 bars to an order and were dense, buttery and sweet. Call these very nice.
The Chocolate Stout Cake was a rich chocolate cake made with chocolate stout and drizzled with bittersweet chocolate and cognac glaze. The drizzle on the cake was very light and between the 2 desserts, the bars were much better. This one being based on cocoa which did not satisfy my chocolate craving but it did have a nice light texture.
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
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
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 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 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