Food & Drink

Why It’s Time to Make a Trip to Willows Inn

A pilgrimage to Lummi Island reawakens a passion for local foods

By Allison Austin Scheff August 8, 2016

0816blainewetzel_0

This article originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of Seattle magazine.

When you feel compelled to leave the city and immerse yourself in nature, when you seek to sit in quiet amazement at the wondrous foraged and farm-raised foods our Pacific Coast region provides, and to be waited on with warmth by a knowing staff but without the formality of a fussy setting, it’s time to make a trip to the Willows Inn.

A six-minute ferry ride across a calm bay outside of Bellingham takes you to pastoral Lummi Island and the Willows Inn (2579 W Shore Drive; 360.758.2620; willows-inn.com; $230–$600), where comfortably updated guest rooms beckon upstairs; off-site, waterfront (or nearly so) accommodations offer more luxury. The reason to come all this way, of course, is for chef Blaine Wetzel’s nightly prix fixe menu ($175; wine pairing, $90). His time at the world-renowned Copenhagen restaurant Noma informs his point of view: only the best, and only what’s growing in this exact place, right at this moment. And so edibles such as wild lettuces and foraged berry flowers, and salmon or spot prawns caught that morning and singing with sweet flavor, perhaps alongside their own roe, arrive course after course, as if written as a poem.

Related: The Best Getaways for Food and Wine Lovers

All of the treasures of our lush forests, our ocean and our farms—the sweetest clams, perhaps wrapped in a foraged and dried seaweed wrapper; the lamb raised just down the way on a grassy hill, brushed with the sweet grasses it once grazed upon—this is supper and yet so much more. The owners of lavish yachts and young foodies who’ve traveled here from around the world sigh in unison as the sun sets over a steely ocean horizon and the magical menu unfolds.

Follow Us

Celebrating the Spot Prawn

Celebrating the Spot Prawn

The season is short. Don’t miss out.

The delicate, subtle flavor of the body, the complex savoriness the shell infuses into broths, and the firm meat make spot shrimp an unbelievable delicacy, though also a relatively unknown one...

Seattle's Most Exciting Restaurant Openings 

Seattle’s Most Exciting Restaurant Openings 

Check out these four new restaurants as the weather heats up

As Seattle warms up to summer weather, so too does the restaurant scene, with a bunch of exciting restaurant openings this month and next — some already in soft opening and waiting for you to come sample creative Vietnamese food and crunch through Lebanese tacos. Lupe’s Situ Tacos Opening mid-May A pandemic pop-up that spent…

‘10 Things I Hate About You' Turns 25 

‘10 Things I Hate About You’ Turns 25 

Tour 10 locations from the iconic '90s movie filmed in Seattle and Tacoma

Released 25 years ago in 1999, 10 Things I Hate About You perfectly encapsulates the '90s and stands out as an excellent adaptation of Shakespeare. It’s Heath Ledger’s American debut and a travel postcard from Seattle and Tacoma to the world. So, get those cameras ready and crank up Letters to Cleo — let’s hit the

Uncommon Thinkers: Sam Cho

Uncommon Thinkers: Sam Cho

Director, Strategic Initiatives, Office of the Mayor. Commissioner, Port of Seattle

Not many can say they were elected to public office before the age of 30. Fewer can still say that, by the time they did so, they'd founded and sold a business. #UncommonThinkersWelcome Photo by Andrew Ge