Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Weekend Wanderings: Lummi Island & A Meal at Willows Inn

Lummi Island is part of the San Juan Islands two hours north of Seattle. The entire island is only 9.25 square miles with a population of 822. It’s quiet, pretty, and easy to get to, which makes it the perfect destination for a weekend getaway. Plus, The Willows Inn has one of the best meals in the state. 

The Willows Inn. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

GETTING THERE

It’s a two hour drive north of Seattle and then a 5-minute ferry ride. The ferry costs $13 per car and $7 per passenger. Cash and credit cards (except Amex) are accepted. More about Lummi Island Ferry and the schedule here: http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/562/Ferry-Schedule 

WHERE TO STAY

We stayed at Willows since dining there was our main reason for the trip. However, you can opt to get a place on Airbnb or VRBO or stay at another hotel on the island. 

Herbed Tostado. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

Razor Clams. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

Smoked Sockeye Salmon. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

THE WILLOWS INN MEAL 

The food was rustic, yet elegant. Interesting and new, yet simple. None of it was overly manipulated and the chefs showed a lot of restraint to let the natural flavors shine. Everything was delicious. I let out more than a few satisfying “mmm’s” during the meal.

We opted for a few glasses of wine and the $45 juice pairing. I hadn’t seen a juice pairing on a tasting menu before and it blew us away. We had seven fresh juices: chamomile, bay leaf, red currant, pear, blueberry, gooseberry, and wild rose juices. 

Our 20-course tasting menu: 

  • toasted kale leaves 
  • venison tartare with wild herbs & pumpernickel
  • savory doughnuts of smoked cod
  • smoked sockeye salmon
  • native oysters and watercress 
  • chilled turnip soup & caramelized squid
  • rockfish with last summer’s peppers
  • smoked mussels
  • pink singing scallops with roe
  • seared razor clam
  • grilled geoduck 
  • stems cooked in skunk cabbage
  • herbed tostada
  • bread from heirloom wheat and chicken drippings
  • king salmon with steamed leaves
  • spring pine ice cream
  • sweet woodruff and stinging nettles with malt  

At $225 per person plus wine and/or juice pairings, the meal could be upwards of $800 with tax and tip. The meal was delightful, the service was fantastic, and it’s definitely an experience worth saving for and one that I’d recommend. 

Pink Singing Scallops with Roe & Cream. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

WHAT ELSE TO DO

There were three lush green preserves to check on the island, no more than 10 minutes driving from Willows. They also have free bikes for guests to use. There’s an easy 7-mile loop to do around the island with beaches to see on the route. 

  1. Curry Preserve: a 20-minute loop in a meadow surrounded by trees. Dogs on leash are allowed. The Heritage Trust’s Curry Garden and orchard project is located near the entrance
  2. Otto Preserve: a 20-minute nature walk in the forest. Mostly flat and dogs on leash are allowed. 
  3. Baker Preserve: 3.2 miles roundtrip with a 1000 feet elevation gain. The overlook provides a view of San Juan Islands and the Olympics. Note: no dogs allowed. 

Curry Preserve. Photo by Jennifer Liu.

The Willows Inn      |    2579 W Shore Dr, Lummi Island     |     (360) 758-2620

About Jennifer Liu

Despite the rain, Jennifer loves Seattle and is a rare native. From the gorgeous summer weather to the drizzle the other 9 months, this may be her forever home. She graduated from the University of Washington and has a master's degree in counseling psychology. She loves to travel, volunteer, and host themed dinner parties. You can find her eating, hiking, hanging out with her awesome dog, or napping. Ice cream, burgers, and sushi are some of her favorite things.
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