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“Must stop here”

Nell Thorn Restaurant & Pub
Ranked #5 of 36 Restaurants in La Conner
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: American
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Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine, Bar scene
Dining options: Late Night, Dinner, Lunch, Reservations
Reviewed May 14, 2014

Excellent and very consistent food. We have eaten at Nell Thorn many times: Lunches, Dinners at the Restaurant or in the Pub and have always been very satisfied.
The cuisine is simple and always based on local products from sea and earth suppliers with whom the chef entertains close relation.

2  Thank Francis D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (501)
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264 - 268 of 501 reviews

Reviewed May 10, 2014

I have never visited the former Nell's, so I can only comment on the new vs the old. The location is prime, in my opinion. The food was tasty but nothing amazing. The food did not warrant the high prices and the small portions. The wine was reasonably priced, nothing else was. I, too believe that they could use more help. Fortunately for my friend and I, we were in no hurry so the slow service wasn't as annoying.

Because I don't think the value is there, I won't be returning - at least not on my dime.

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Thank motherTT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 2, 2014

In the past I've been enthusiastic about Nell Thorn, and despite the two stars I'm giving it now, I recommend you go there, but with some caveats.

First off, be aware that Nell Thorn has moved from its old location in a wing of the La Conner Country Inn. The new place is more central, much larger, and attractive - probably a good move for the restaurant.

If you've never been there, you'll be impressed. And perhaps this is unfair, but what's missing is the quirky charm of the old place. Honestly, the new location is terrific, but the previous main dining area/bar had a ramshackle, spontaneous feel that somehow fostered conversation among whoever happened to show up on a given night. (I've had a number of those conversations with strangers at Nell Thorn since the 1990s.) Part of the reason was the intimate interior, which, with its crooked floor and asymmetrical walls could have been designed by M C Escher.

In the new place, all that is gone. The small dining area near the bar has none of that warm intimacy that threw strangers together in friendly conversation. And that's a shame.

But that doesn't explain my two-star rating, which is all about two things: 1) my mediocre, overpriced meal, and 2) the inability of the management to hire enough staff. Re #2, my poor waitress was running ragged trying to serve those of us who were seated outside near the water. She really needed help, or a colleague to split the tables with. And when my dinner was over, I stepped into the bar in order to sample a wine. No way - the bartender was literally running back and forth from the bar to somewhere I couldn't fathom. At any rate, he was much too preoccupied to notice me standing there for three minutes, after which I gave up and left. Again, it's not his fault that he had far too many customers to handle on his own.

Finally, the food: they no longer carry the seafood spaghetti tossed in oil and garlic with bacon that I enjoyed three years ago. So I ordered what looked like something similar, seafood spaghetti in a tomato sauce. Big mistake. The tomato sauce overwhelms the delicate flavor of the shrimp, clams, etc, rendering the dish somewhat one-dimensional and uninteresting. It's a huge serving which I couldn't finish, all the more wasteful given how boring it was.

So I do recommend Nell Thorn, but I wish they would at least hire more staff and take a good look at what works and what doesn't with their seafood pasta.

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1  Thank Isoruku
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 29, 2014

Notwithstanding negative reviews to the contrary, this is one of the best restaurants around. They recently changed locations from a small, intimate, space up the hill to the new waterfront location and have just opened their deck for service. Growing pains only. I have eaten here regularly (at least once per month and lately once or tewice per week) for six years and it is consistently good both in terms of food and service. I am a regular and sometimes have trouble getting a table. So be it. Come a different time. It is really worth the effort.

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Thank RonB44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 26, 2014

arriving early, we could get neither food nor drink inside nor outside. finally, we figured out we could order inside and finally get the food outside on the beautiful sea-side patio. the food, however, was average and the service sporadic, at best, and not worth the wait. if in laconner, try seeds bistro.

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1  Thank Michael C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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