To get to the best restaurant in Washington State, and one of the best restaurants in the country, you first need to drive two hours north of Seattle and take a 10-minute ferry ride to get to Lummi Island (population: about 600). On the far side of the island is Willows Inn, run by Chef Blaine Wetzel. Wetzel is barely 30 years old, but in 2014, the James Beard Foundation named him Rising Star Chef of the Year and in 2015, he was awarded Best Chef Northwest.
The Willows Inn restaurant only operates for 3-4 nights per week. At capacity, the restaurant seats 34 people. There is one seating per night at 6 PM. The meal lasts three hours. Each person’s meal cost $200 with a mandatory gratuity.
Accede to these conditions and you will possibly have the best meal of your entire life. The setting is homey and welcoming. The service is friendly and informative. The food is exquisite and unique. Many of the ingredients are caught from the surrounding water, or harvested from surrounding vegetation and gardens. It feels like you are eating straight from the earth — in a good way.
Several of our fellow diners were here from out of state. They made the pilgrimage and they were well-rewarded. So, my advice: if you’ve never been, add this to the bucket list!
I was able to take some photos of the meal below, using a Fuji X-T2. Here are the dishes that were photographed:
toasted kale leaves
clams and scallops
oysters and wilcress
black cod and currant leaves
dungeness crab soaked in pinenuts
reefnet caught smoked sockeye
lightly cured rockfish in a broth of grilled bones
steamed bok choy