B and I recently celebrated our four-year wedding anniversary and, as has become tradition, we try to get away for a day or two to indulge in some good food and a bit of R&R. Last year, we visited Willows Inn for the first time and had such a blast that we decided to return again this year.
I am saving myself the effort of re-writing my glowing review and instead will direct you to my post from last year. You’ll notice that there were a number of dishes that were the same as last year’s menu but those were the snacks, not the main courses – most of the mains were new dishes (except for the mind-blowing smoked salmon and the blueberry dessert). Once again, my favourite snacks were the kale and black truffle, the drippings with local bread, and the crispy crepe with steelhead roe.
Although our experience last year was fantastic, I did notice two areas where they have made improvements. The first was the pre-dinner service. Last year we found it difficult to place our drink order and to get our drinks before we were taken to our table. This year, we had no issues at all and they are now offering pre-dinner snacks to all guests whilst you wait to be seated. Secondly, you are now able to eat breakfast in the Inn the morning after your dinner (see pics below). That wasn’t an option for us last year and I think it really added to our experience as there isn’t much else available on the island (plus, everything else is a let-down after Willows).
Again, I wasn’t super impressed with the wine tasting menu. Next time (oh yes!), we will just order a few bottles for the table as I didn’t think the wine elevated any of the dishes for us.
Pre-dinner snacks on the patio.
More pre-dinner snacks…sauerkraut brine oysters.
The dining room.
Smoked Samish Bay Mussel.
Squash blossoms & edible nasturtium with nasturtium paste.
Crispy crepe with steelhead roe.
Kale with black truffles.
Local albacore with smoked bones.
Shiitake roasted over fire.
Puffed halibut skin.
Lopez Island smelt.
Salt-baked beets with dill flowers.
Aged venison tartare and purslane.
Oh, smoked salmon…I need you in my life, always.
Just-dug potatoes with watercress and herring roe.
Pan dripping and bread made from local grains.
Local black cod steamed with lovage and cherry tomato.
Slow-roasted lamb with sour cherries.
Wild chamomile and wood sorrel in blackberries.
Blueberries with woodruff and malt.
Breakfast of house-made muffins, egg, and zucchini chilli jam.
I absolutely adore Willows Inn and highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for something a little different to other dining experiences. There is a reason why chef Blaine Wetzel won the James Beard Rising Star Chef Award this year. Get there if you can!