Category Archives: Fine Dining

Lummi Island – Willows Inn

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.

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Toasted Kale Leaves: truffle, rye

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Sidestripe Ceviche: rhubarb

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Blue Clams: black radish

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Savory Doughnot: black cod

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Smoked Mussel

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Native Oysters: wildcress

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Chillled Hakurei Turnip Soup: caviar

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Lightly-Cured Rockfish: bone broth

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Grilled Geoduck

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Spot Prawns: Shrimp head paste

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Smoked Sockeye

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Aged Venison Leg: tendon

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Herb Tostada

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Bread: crab brain

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Charred Black Cod Fins

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Toasted Birch Branches

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Quince and Candied Rosemary

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Nootka Rose Petals

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Island Berries and Elderflowers

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.

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San Francisco – Quince

K and I decided earlier this year to head to SF to visit friends and eat, too bad most of our friends went out of town for the long weekend. On the upside when my parents heard they invited themselves along as it’s their 45th wedding anniversary and would be paying for a fancy meal. I wasn’t going to complain.

The meal lasted over three hours and we could barely move once it was over. I somehow had room to eat most of their mignardises. Everything was exceptionally good although I felt the halibut wasn’t anything special by itself and one had to get lot of sauce for it to taste great. My favorites were the asparagus, especially when dipping the mozzarella filled bread in the excess sauce, and the garganelli.

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Canape: gougere, onion rings, pea pillow, parmesan marshmallow and two things I don’t remember anymore

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Trumpet mushroom, salt cod fritter

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Tsar Nicoulai Caviar: brioche, kohlrabi, smoked sturgeon

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Dungeness Crab: asparagus, green almond, green strawberry

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Springtime in Bolinas

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White Asparagus: morel, vin jaune

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Garganelli: maine lobster, english pea, scallion

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Halibut: fiddlehead fern, wild ramp, chanterelle mushroom

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Foie Gras

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Agnolottini: squab, fava bean

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Tortellini

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Milk Fed Lamb: potato, nepitella, black garlic

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Grilled lamb

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Verjus: rose geranium, lemongrass

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Strawberry: smoked coffee caramel, meringue

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Gift for their anniversary

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Mignardises: lemon bar, shortbread cookie, canele, ginger truffle, financier

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Seattle – Altura

My parents were in town for some good food and wine touring. I had been talking up Altura since K and I went almost a year ago and I’d say it lived up to their expectations. My dad said he liked it better than EMP although when pressed why, his answer flabbergasted my mom and me. The menu was familiar but different enough to not feel like a repeat. My dad and I got the additional pasta carbonara with truffles shaved on top which was very good but not my favorite dish of the night, the scallop and risotto were.

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King Salmon – beet and horseradish, golden trout roe, dill pollen

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Sea Urchin – parsley root canoli, spruce tips

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Steelhead Roe – fennel panna cotta, smoked with madrona

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Asparagus Variations – osetra caviar

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Foie Gras – Sicilian pistachio, whipped campari

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Pink Baked Scallop – meyer lemon, wild onion

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Beef Crudo – marrow roasted beets, pickled ramps, parmesan

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Carnaroli Risotto – fennel sausage, peas, castelmagno

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Darrell’s Bread – salumi, favetta

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Farro Tagliatelle – duck egg, pecorino, perigord black truffle

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Wood Sorrel Sorbetto – prosecco granita, rhubarb tapioca

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New York Strip – foraged mushrooms, wild greens

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Halibut Roasted in Wild Onion Ashes – radish

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Duck Brodo – infused with charred radicchio and pine

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Buratta – crispy nettles, ramp leaves

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Mascarpone Cheesecake – meyer lemon, sour plum, woodruff

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Affogato – mascarpone gelato, cannoli, grappa soaked cherry

 

 

Seattle – Eden Hill

After a short trip to Woodinville to do some wine tasting, we headed over to Eden Hill. With four of us we ordered all but one savory dish and since I’m a semi-regular chef Max sent out a few freebies so we ended up with 10 courses, didn’t take a picture of the salad dish.
My parents both like the cauliflower the best while I’m torn between the pate and octopus. K liked the quail the most and we all thought the oysters fell a bit flat. If everything on plate eaten in one bite it was interesting but the oyster itself had too much breading and not, if any, enough seasoning.

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Cauliflower “chilaquiles” – serrano and lovage hot sauce, red cabbage curtido, lime crema, manchego

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Quileute salmon mi cuit – kumquat, red sorrel, calamansi, spiced vanilla vinaigrette, roasted new potatoes

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Chicken liver pate – sauternes pickled foie gras, northwest syrup, toasted coffee rye, walnut

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Salmon mousse – radish, bread

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Kumamoto oysters

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Crispy pighead “candybar” – prosecco, d’anjou pear, fermented black bean, merlot pickled red cabbage, serrano

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Fried pacific oysters – sweet and sour apple, black garlic mayonnaise, wobble cart spinach, apple, almond

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Spanish octopus – dark chocolate and plum mole coloradito, sunchoke, ancho, seaweed tepanade

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Pan roasted quail – charred asparagus, black morel, tomato preserve, poultry glace, soft egg, agour

Portland – Beast

I had been wanting to try Beast for a while since I knew it would be a great meal, but it turned out to exceed our expectations. The pasta course was by far our favorite, the pasta texture was almost perfect (I thought a bit more al dente would have been better) and the pork ragu was sublime even if there wasn’t much of it. Seating at the restaurant is two large tables and we were across from a lovely couple from Hawaii who like us loves to travel to eat. They were even coming back on Sunday for Beast’s famous brunch. Our second favorite course was the asparagus and cheese, K isn’t a huge fan of burrta but loved it so much insisted I make this dish at home.

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Bay shrimp amuse

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Verjus cured halibut crudo – smoked olive oil aioli, gem lettuce & cherry belle radish, bottarga

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Spinach garganelli – milk braised pork ragu, collard rapini, mustard blossoms, parmesan

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American wagyu hanger steak – butter poached new potatoes, roasted viridian farms calcots, pickled maitakes, sherry demi glace

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Salad of grilled and raw shaved asparagus – burrata, shasta gold mandarins, min, pine nut-brown butter vinaigrette

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Machego media curado – marinated fennel, wild miner’s lettuce, quince paste, espelette baguette cruton

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Rhubarb-jasmine profiterole – jasmine ice cream & rhubarb sorbet, roasted rhubarb, matcha pistachios, poppy seed meringues

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Foie gras bon bon

Seattle – Eden Hill – NYE

I normally abhor going out for NYE dinner normally since like Valentine’s day it’s an overpriced meal 99% of the time that isn’t that inspiring. Eden Hill’s menu was different and when I read about it and saw it was only $100 for 7+ courses I called to make a reservation. I sat at the bar seat closest to the kitchen so I was able to see the night progress. I’m glad I got a seat right away as other guests waited close to an hour for their table, the ambitious menu took a bit longer to produce than anticipated according to Chef Max. Doesn’t help that the kitchen it the size of a large walk-in closet, I’m astounded every time I dine at Eden Hill how they manage to produce such wonderful dishes in such a small space. My favorite dish was the sweetbreads, it was almost like sweet and sour style and similar to how I sometimes prepare it at home with a marsala butter sauce. The cheddar doughnut was also amazing, I could’ve eaten a few more, the ice cream was more like a warm custard after frying and it had a silky texture. The squid dish was particularly inventive, the cracked was 99% composed of squid and certainly tasted like it.

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Squab liver cigar, black olive ash, fermented plum scent – Sea urchin pizza, carbonate yuzu, celery, tomato dust

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Squid, whiskey barrel fish sauce, coriander curd, opal basil mint

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Dungeness crab, lovage, carrot, tomato ponzu, espelette, red onion, arugula blossom

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Hen of the woods tarte flambee, sour cream, candied shallot, house cured and smoked salmon roe, pork shoulder, leek sabayon

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Arabian honey cured sweetbreads, deadon cabbage, licorice, apple, curry crumbs

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Roasted pigeon, pickled foie gras, black truffle, fine herb gnocchi, toasted barley, consomme of wild mushrooms and smoked bones

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Fried white cheddar cheese ice cream doughnut, toasted popcorn latte, goat milk caramel froth

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White chocolate ball drop, sudachi, freeze dried raspberries, sake, sesame sponge

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“bag” of candied pecan, caramel apple macaron

San Francisco – Mourad

Met up with a friend for a lovely Moroccan dinner. Dishes were more upscale than you’d find almost any other Moroccan restaurant but the flavors were spot on. I had the octopus and lamb but tried all dishes. The octopus was incredibly tender and the couscous was fluffier than other preparations I’ve had. The sugar puffs were also incredibly light but I was left wanting something more like a donut rather than a beignet.

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Eggplant: cucumber, oregano, pepper, flatbread, za’atar

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Octopus: brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mustard, preserved lemon

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Couscous: butternut, quince, pepitas, harissa, brown butter

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Lamb: lentil, rutabaga, maitake, eucalyptus, black lime

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Sugar Puffs: citrus marmalade, yuzu caramel, marash