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“Before the autumn rains a dinner with a beautiful sunset”

Willows Inn Restaurant
Certificate of Excellence
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Description: One seating at 6:30pm each night features a preset tasting menu that is entirely fished, foraged, and farmed from or around Lummi Island.
Woodside, California
Level Contributor
96 reviews
39 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“Before the autumn rains a dinner with a beautiful sunset”
Reviewed October 2, 2013

The opening of the small cedar box that had been used, with small pebbles at the bottom, to steam and smoke a plumb Pacific Mussel was just perfect! When you drive up and see the smoke house and the open fire one knows Willows Inn is serious about cooking. There were so many little tastings that we almost couldn't keep track. And there was enough of each tasting to really taste. The small phyllo pillow filled with salmon roe melted in your mouth - no wonder the bears seek the roe in the salmon as they go upstream to spawn this time of year. One thing we were really pleased was how quiet the restaurant was even with the number of tables. The servers kept coming out of nowhere and you knew they all had been trained properly and delighted with each presentation. We love good wine but we aren't wine experts and the sampling from the recommended flights to the bottle were all excellent. We stayed at the Inn and thankfully they took pets because we were driving down to California from our second home in Canada and we had a dog and cat. The Inn even found a "child minder" to sit with them while we dined. With a beautiful sunny evening the animals got an evening on the beach before dark set in. I can't imagine getting into the restaurant without a reservation. We were there late enough in the year but still planned 3 weeks in advance and it was a Thursday night, not a weekend. None of the courses disappointed from the halibut skin to the duck. I just wish we could easily go back for another round.

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank BinWoodside
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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153 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    136
    8
    7
    1
    1
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
13 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“An unforgettable experience”
Reviewed September 19, 2013

Our meal at Willows Inn was perfect. My husband opted for the wine pairing, while I chose the juice pairing. Both were excellent. The service was attentive and they explained each bite or course as they served. They use many fresh ingredients that are locally sourced, which is a nice touch. The smoked items on the menu are sublime. During our visit, we tried a smoked mussel and also smoked salmon, and we are still talking about it. Definitely add this to your itinerary if you are visiting the San Juan Islands.

  • Visited July 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank cmonestero
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fullerton, California
Level Contributor
153 reviews
103 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 95 helpful votes
“A revelation”
Reviewed September 13, 2013

This was such a fine and inventive meal. There is a single seating, timed for the gorgeous sunset. The dining room is tiny--maybe 30 people max, but there is a tension and excitement as all enjoy the meal in a staggered way. Even though it is billed as a five-course meal, there are about 5-6 more components called "snacks". Linger for 2-3 hours, but children under 12 are not allowed in the dining room. The ingredients are simple and adherent to the FLOSS philosophy: Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal and Sustainable. For me and my husband, the foraged greens were the most unique. We tried both the wine and the juice pairing. The detail to which each plate is prepared is stunning. The beauty of each innovative portion of the meal was almost beyond description. The featured smoked salmon is even caught in the traditional island manner (reef netted), as a nod to the local culture. It is difficult to compare to other fabulous meals, but on the level of our French Laundry and Alinea experiences. It is just different but just as special and spectacular. It is not a meal for the small-minded, and you will really appreciate all the hands that are involved in preparing your food when you see the kitchen staff arriving at 9 or 10 am for a 6:30 pm meal. Not a meal to be missed if you call yourself a foodie or wish to gather with other food nerds.

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank AuntieJoy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bellevue, Washington
Level Contributor
96 reviews
56 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
“Fine dining in casual atmosphere”
Reviewed September 5, 2013

If you want to dine here, it is wise to make reservations weeks or months in advance. But, you can dress casual.

Ultra-fresh, Local fare, prepared expertly. Almost very course was an innovation to some degree.

Twice as many courses as advertised (12), so plan on 2-3 hours for a relaxed diner. Not one course was not unique in some significant way and all dishes were excellent.


Visited September 2013
Helpful?
Thank Gary J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
87 reviews
50 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“Delicious island dinner”
Reviewed August 29, 2013

We started with cocktails in the deck overlooking the water then moved into a beautiful dining room.The food was perfectly prepared and very imaginatively presented.The bread with chicken drippings was different and yummy.We did the wine pairings and it was nice to only have 1 red as none of us are big red drinkers.The only disappointment was dessert ,the flavours just didn't wow me.The staff were friendly and competent,didn't see the chef or the owners which was slightly disappointing-the personal touch is always nice,especially when you travel so far to eat somewhere.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Barbara H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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