The Willows Inn Restaurant – Lummi Island

Friday, September 6th, 2013 :: 4:00 pm

After fellow foodie friends posted about their experience to this amazing restaurant just an hour and half away from Vancouver (plus a short ferry ride), I knew I had to dine there some time. In fact, it was featured in 2011 by New York Times as “10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride” and again in 2013 as “The Top 10 Food Lover’s Hotels in The United States“. I’m pretty certain it would be rated on the Michelin guide, except they don’t do Michelin ratings in Washington state. The chef is Blaine Wetzel, who has worked at Noma, #1 on the World’s Top 50 restaurant.

When the opportunity arose a couple months ago to make a reservation at the restaurant for this past long weekend, our friends invited 6 of us to join as well – you can say it’s been a good 2 months worth of anticipation! The tasting menu consisted of 4 main dishes and roughly 10 “snacks”, and a few “dessert” dishes. The price is $150 per person, $60 extra for wine pairing, and $40 extra for juice pairing (or you can do half-half). I personally had the juice pairing which were very different than what you would make yourself at home with the same ingredients (Sorrel, Cucumber, Carrot, Currant, Elderflower). I would probably have opted for the half-half if I didn’t have to drive afterwards.

Most of the ingredients are sourced locally right on the island, with a lot of the vegetables being planted right behind the Inn. It’s always interesting to see very simple ingredients being used as enhancements for these dishes, but without them, it would taste completely different. They also had their own smoke house, which they used to smoke and prepare a lot of the meat and seafood.

The service was excellent and fast, although if you are thinking of splitting the bill in different ways, you may encounter some delays in the end. The meal itself would not be complete without foodies taking a lot of photos of the dishes itself – which were often decorated very beautifully + precisely. Sorry, photos do not convey the smell and taste of the food!

Definitely reserve many months in advance, and enjoy the rest of the island before your meal, especially if the weather turns out great!

Bright sunset

Willows Inn

Shutter speed: 1/1600s / Aperture: f/4.0 / Focal: 24mm / ISO: 160


Willows Inn

Shutter speed: 1/60s / Aperture: f/4.0 / Focal: 24mm / ISO: 160
Serving a starter wine

Willows Inn Starter Wine

Shutter speed: 1/15s / Aperture: f/4.0 / Focal: 73mm / ISO: 1600
Cute centerpiece

Willows Inn

Shutter speed: 1/160s / Aperture: f/1.6 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600

Tablesetting

Shutter speed: 1/25s / Aperture: f/4.0 / Focal: 24mm / ISO: 1600
Menu and initial few words from the chef

Willows Inn Menu

Shutter speed: 1/250s / Aperture: f/2.5 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Samish Bay Smoked Mussel – the smoky smell was like nothing I’ve tasted before

Samish Bay Smoked Mussel

Shutter speed: 1/30s / Aperture: f/2.0 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Halibut skin

Halibut skin

Shutter speed: 1/40s / Aperture: f/1.6 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Crispy Crepe with Salmon Roe – “OMFG” goodness

Crispy Crepe with Salmon Roe

Shutter speed: 1/160s / Aperture: f/1.8 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Kale with Black Truffle and Rye – best kale chips ever?

Kale with Black Truffle and Rye

Shutter speed: 1/40s / Aperture: f/1.8 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Goat Tartare with Rye Bread and Herbs

Goat Tartare with Rye Bread and Herbs

Shutter speed: 1/80s / Aperture: f/1.8 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Delicious and very pretty colour coordination

Goat Tartare with Rye Bread and Herbs

Shutter speed: 1/50s / Aperture: f/1.8 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Albacore Tuna Scraped by a Scallop Shell

Albacore Tuna Scraped by a Scallop Shell

Shutter speed: 1/125s / Aperture: f/1.8 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Grilled Shiitake – “OMFG” juicy!

Grilled Shiitake

Shutter speed: 1/80s / Aperture: f/1.8 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Cucumber juice pairing – very smooth and subtle

Cucumber juice

Shutter speed: 1/125s / Aperture: f/1.8 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Ancient grains with local chanterelles and elderberries

Ancient grains with local chanterelles and elderberries

Shutter speed: 1/100s / Aperture: f/1.8 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600

Looks can be deceiving.. this was quite amazing.

Smoked Sockeye – smoked 5 hours over green alderwood

Smoked Sockeye

Shutter speed: 1/200s / Aperture: f/1.8 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Wild seaweeds braised with dungeness crab and brown butter

Wild seaweeds braised with dungeness crab

Shutter speed: 1/100s / Aperture: f/1.8 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600

Made me want to eat the bread over and over again…

Hearth Bread with roasted chicken pan drippings

Hearth Bread

Shutter speed: 1/160s / Aperture: f/1.8 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Summer salad of baisil and nasturtiums

Summer salad of baisil and nasturtiums

Shutter speed: 1/80s / Aperture: f/1.8 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Red currant juice pairing

Red currant juice

Shutter speed: 1/160s / Aperture: f/2.0 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Dried beets glazed with black currants and salted bone marrow

Dried beets glazed with black currants

Shutter speed: 1/60s / Aperture: f/2.2 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Blackberries with Wild Grasses

Blackberries with Wild Grasses

Shutter speed: 1/60s / Aperture: f/1.6 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Huckleberries with woodruff and malted barley

Huckleberries with woodruff and malted barley

Shutter speed: 1/100s / Aperture: f/1.6 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600

Another one of those “looks can be deceiving”. Just the right amount of chewiness and sweetness!

Flax bites with caramel

Flax bites with caramel

Shutter speed: 1/50s / Aperture: f/2.2 / Focal: 35mm / ISO: 1600
Amazing sunset over the islands midway through dinner

Lummi Island Sunset

Shutter speed: 1/2500s / Aperture: f/6.3 / Focal: 105mm / ISO: 1600

Lummi Island Sunset

Shutter speed: 1/1600s / Aperture: f/7.1 / Focal: 24mm / ISO: 1600

2 Responses to “The Willows Inn Restaurant – Lummi Island”

  1. whitney Says:

    looks amazing! Do people ever stay overnight there?

  2. a70 Says:

    Yes! Actually I think a lot of people end up doing that. Dine with the wine pairing and then end up staying the night, they also serve breakfast as well.

Leave a Reply

Current day month ye@r *