Our visit to the Willows Inn on Lummi Island was definitely the highlight of our summer. We were fortunate to arrive on a sunny day in early September. Mount Baker was out in all its glory, the sea was offering up its bounty and chef Blaine Wetzel was making magic in the kitchen. We stayed not at the inn itself but at the Sinclair View Suite, in a gorgeous home available to book through the inn. It was across the road from a lovely beach, with views of nearby Orcas Island and picturesque fishing boats moored in the bay.
Dinner was long and lovely, with 16 different items, not really courses, but many small bites served separately. You may think you know and love Northwest cuisine, but have you ever had crispy halibut skin with razor clams? How about geoduck with frozen horseradish or a rolled crispy crepe with sockeye roe? All were beautifully presented, often on stones or pieces of slate. I had the juice pairing, which included an emerald sorrel juice, spicy apple and delicate elderflower. My husband got the wine pairing, featuring Northwest wines like Madeleine Angevine from Mount Baker Vineyards.
If you go be sure to hang out in the kitchen at the end of the meal. Blaine and his staff will be happy to show you around. And don't miss the tour of Nettles Farm after breakfast in the morning. The farm, just a few blocks from the inn, supplies eggs, vegetables, berries and more.
I don't even want to say how much all this costs (a minimum of $300 for two people just for the dinner), but think of it as a revelation of just how special our part of the world really is.