Willows Inn, Lummi Island, WA
After hearing the accolades building up about the Willow’s Inn, I was more than anxious to get here to try the food! We went on a perfect weekend, and had a wonderful time.
The dining room is quite small, and limited to one seating a night. I loved that the chefs were quite interactive with the diners, bringing out most of the dishes themselves and explaining each course. For our first appetizer, Chef Wetzel himself brought our mystery ‘box’ to the table for us. More on that, plus the rest of the food:
That mystery box? As soon as we opened it, a waft of smoke rose out, and inside were two perfect, tiny cubes of smoked wild king salmon, resting on top of still smoldering alderwood. Gorgeous presentation, and the salmon was to die for!
Our second appetizer was black code over saukerkraut, on a potato chip. Another tasty bite, with plenty of freshness and zing.
The third appetizer was so cute… a mini bushel of fresh baby veggies! The dressing was creamy, with plenty of chives. The veggies included baby radishes, turnips, and kale, and were covered in edible ‘dirt’ (toasted hazelnut) which was quite tasty!
Our fourth appetizer was a fried kale chip with black truffle toasted rye bread. Although it was a small bite, the truffle definitely shined through, and made for a delectable, crispy dish!
Our fifth appetizer (yes, these are still appetizers!) was herbed toast with a brown butter emulsion, and ‘powdered’ vinagrette. No idea how they made that vinagrette, but the dish was fresh, and delicious!
The final appetizer consisted of organic watercress with mushrooms and berries, with what I believe were fiddlehead ferns. Light, fresh, and really good.
Finally, we got to our five course meal. Along with our meal, we both opted to do the juice pairing in lieu of the wine pairing. I LOVE that they have this option! At $40 for 5 juices, yes it’s a bit expensive. But all of the juices are house made, super fresh, and quite unique!
The first juice pairing was cucumber, and as expected, quite cool and refreshing!
The first dish consisted of porcinis, red currants, with fresh cheese and woodruff. Again, everything incredibly fresh. Those currants were incredible! Tart, juicy, and sweet.
Our second juice pairing was carrot juice, and this was probably my favorite. It tasted so incredibly sweet and creamy. Just what kind of carrots are they growing on this island?!
Dish #2 consisted of a skate wing with cabbage and mussel sauce. Although this may have been my least favorite (if I had to name a least favorite) dish of the night, it was quite good.. I’d never had skate with this texture before. Tasty!
Our 3rd juice pairing was granny smith apple juice. A very close second favorite of mine to the carrot juice. Tart, sweet, and very apple-y. Wish I had some of this right now!
The accompanying dish was spring onions with rhubarb and thyme. Very light, very fresh, and that crunchy green rhubarb added quite a zing!
Our fourth juice was huckleberry. Very tart, and quite a nice replacement to red wine. This juice pairing went exceptionally well with the accompanying dish.
One of my favorite dishes of the night, the slow roasted Peking duck breast with red beets and berries. The duck was incredibly fresh and tender (coming straight from a nearby island). That little layer of fat? And the crispy skin? Perfection. Adam mentioned that the taste was reminiscent of pork rind, but not at all in a bad way! Oh, and the meat was tender and juicy, too…
Our final juice pairing was sorrel juice. Quite grassy, and my least favorite of the night. Still, I have to say, it did complement dessert well!
Dessert consisted of a fresh strawberry sorbet with chamomile milk foam, strawberries, meringue, and lavender glass. What a great combination of flavors and textures, and a great way to end an incredible meal!
The next morning? Scrambled eggs, potatoes with kale and cheese, and zucchini carrot muffin. Simple, and delicious. The cheesy potatoes were incredible.. only lightly seasoned, so the flavour of kale, cheese, and chives could really shine through. And the muffin? Soft, fresh, and delicious!
This is definitely one of the best meals I’ve had in the Pacific NW to date, if not the best. I highly recommend a weekend getaway to Lummi Island, and visit to the Willows Inn. I’ll be dreaming about what Chef Wetzel will have created the next time we visit!