My wife and I traveled from Oregon to Lummi Island because a sommelier we know recommended the restaurant. So we traveled 600 round trip miles for dinner. We were not disappointed.
We stayed one night in an upstairs room. The accommodations were ok though a bit small. The setting is beautiful. Great view of the San Juans, small waves heard hitting the shore 50' away, bald eagles flying by. While sitting in the lobby, reading and nursing a beer, a young lady brought us a bowl filled with rounded stones, with 2 oysters on top. Unbidden!
Dinner was one of the 3 top meals we have ever had, on a par but very different from the French Laundry. Lots of very small plates with 1-3 bites of food each. It reminded me of Kaiseki in Japan. Each course was exquisitely presented: in a wooden box which when opened released fragrant wood smoke, on a barnacle encrusted rock, etc. And each "course", of which there were more than 15 (mostly amuse-bouche) was utterly unique from the others. The seafood and vegetables could not have been fresher unless you were on the boat or grazing at the farm.
We had dishes we had never experienced before, like venison tartare and we are not tartare fans. But it was delicious. Ever had a serving of Halibut skin before? Ditto on delicious. With over 15 arrows, not every one was a bulls eye, but there was a very dense cluster there.
Service was very good. Relaxed, unpretentious, yet attentive.
The only mild disappointment was the wine tasting menu as some dishes did not match the wine served with it (viognier with mushrooms?). Perhaps a better approach would be to spread among each of the diners a matched single bottle of wine with each course, but perhaps this isn't workable.
I doubt that I could enthusiastically recommend the inn as a destination without the meal. And it's not a place for those seeking steak and lobster tails. But If you want to taste new things, experience food as a feast for your taste buds and eyes, this is for you.
- Also Known As:
- Willows Hotel
- Willows Hotel Lummi Island
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Willows Inn on Lummi Island has become the Northwest's premiere destination for authentic farm to table dining. Come in and experience the culinary magic of our chef, Blaine Wetzel, and find out what eating from your landscape is all about. Savor wines from our extensive selection. Enjoy our elegantly comfortable accommodations. Drink in the views, watch whales, or relax with a cocktail by a blazing fire. Unplug, recharge and experience the Willows Inn--an authentic and affordable San Juan Islands adventure! Offering romantic beachside lodge rooms, cottage, and guest house accommodations and marine experiences. Organic food from Nettles Farm. A car ferry departs at least hourly for the five minute crossing to this scenic island retreat. Less than two hours from Seattle or Vancouver, BC. ... more less