I can’t believe I’ve never been to the night market despite living so close to Canada. Went up with a few friends, strength is numbers is essential in order to try many more dishes than one could do solo. After doing a lap to check out all the stalls we started our feast of mainly pork belly and various types of fried chicken. One friend and I couldn’t pass up deep fried crab in some tortillas. My favorite was the Cambodian chicken wings, nice batter with salt, pepper and lemon flavors.
We finally got to dine at Westward thanks to Renzell. Cashed in some of my points for this lovely four course meal. We started with an oyster shucking class and learned a bit how the various places around Washington are affected by the water they’re grown in. We’re so far North don’t need to worry much about the “R” rule when eating oysters, we get to enjoy them year-round. Everything was incredibly fresh and the wine flowed freely, perhaps a bit too freely.
For K’s birthday we made the short drive back to Lummi Island just over two years since our first visit. While Chef Wetzel was not in the kitchen this weekend, his team kept standards high and I’d say this meal was better than our first visit. Only five of the 19 courses were repeats and I’m glad two of them were the sablefish doughnuts and smoked salmon. A few of the dishes were different takes on the same ingredients, the spot prawns were grilled rather than cooked in rock salt and the shrimp paste with the heads were amazing. The crab brain instead of chicken drippings for the bread course was also a luxurious upgrade. The aged venison was better in flavor and the smaller portion was also good, the little bit of tendon served with it was succulent. Of the new dishes the geoduck, tostada and charred fins were amazing, I’m really glad to see the team pushing their boundaries.
This time we had breakfast at the Inn before catching the ferry back to the mainland. While it was very good and more than we could eat, I felt it was a bit overpriced compared to dinner, which is cheap in comparison to similar restaurants in NYC/SF/Chicago.
For our last day here actually spent time in the city and started it off at Mr Holmes Bakehouse. I had gone back in December but went too early to get their signature pastry, the cormuffin which came out after the ctonut. Similar concept where croissant dough is baked in a muffin tin and filled with something, this was lemon curd. I’m glad the wait wasn’t too long as it wasn’t anything to write home about, the filling was too sweet and the croissant itself tasted like a morning roll at a local Seattle bakery. However, the Japanese smoked salmon croissant was very good in a weird way, it was basically smoke salmon sushi but with croissant instead of rice, ginger slices and all. We both thought Tartine was much better overall.
K wanted to get some chocolate for her friend who was watering out plants. Dandelion is pretty famous but we had never had it, we waited too long. We were tempted by all the display desserts but after Mr Holmes and it just being 10am we got a few chocolate based drinks, an insanely rich mocha for K and a chocolate chai for me, and the brownie flight for the flight home.
Our final stop was San Tung, a restaurant that friends introduced me to back in 2004. The main thing to get here is their dry fried chicken wings which are coated in a spicy sweet sauce. Today the meat was especially crispy, maybe it was the quietest I had ever seen the dining room so the kitchen could focus on making them perfect rather than cranking them out as fast as possible. Rounded out the meal with their giant pot stickers.
For our last meal in SF, I wanted to try the one Corey Lee restaurant I had yet to experience. Moneieur Benjamin is the most straight forward of the three serving up traditional French bistro food. After some big meals outside SF with friends we decided to go fairly light. The escargots were my favorite since it went beyond the usual butter and garlic preparation. The bone marrow was chef Lee’s homage to Blue Ribbon in NY which was the first restaurant he worked in, unfortunately while the bacon jam was good it didn’t hold up to the oxtail marmalade served at Blue Ribbon. Our main was very tender and had good flavor but was overly sweet, even after dumping lots of salt and pepper on it I wanted to ask for some hot sauce to balance out the dish.
For dessert walked a few blocks to Smitten Ice Cream for some extremely rich dessert.
After a long day of wine touring and driving we wanted something a bit on the lighter side but still interesting. SPQR is probably best known for their pasta but it was my least favorite dish, olives dominated a bit too much but if taken out of the equation the pasta and seafood tasted fantastic. The crab was perfectly crispy and paired well with the salad. The bun was my favorite, it was basically a char siu bao with the filling on top rather than inside. Of the four types of preparations on the pork, we all agreed the porchetta was incredible, nice amounts of fat and succulent meat.
Instead of heading to Napa for wine tasting as we normally do went to Sonoma instead. Of the four wineries we visited our favorite was the most rustic, no fancy tasting room and no other guests. Just two people with a small bar counter to the side in the lone barn housing the production equipment and barrels of wine.
Of course for this drinking marathon needed a good base to start they day and Tartine rose to the occasion but we did have to wait a bit for the chocolate croissants to come out of the oven.
After our first two stops went to the quaint town of Healdsburg for some tapas. As usual I ordered with my eyes and when the calamari came we were only able to eat half, but I overhead the table next to us discussing how good it looked so I just picked up the plate and gave it to them. They all agreed with me that it was the best thing they had there although the foie gras bocadillos were also amazing.