The $165 Tasting Menu at Willows Inn, in PicturesBy Leslie Kelly | July 29, 2014 By Leslie Kelly | July 29, 2014
Food lovers from around the world make the pilgrimage to remote Lummi Island, over two hours north of Seattle, to eat at Willows Inn. Nestled into a pastoral paradise with jaw-dropping views of Orcas Island and Vancouver Island, the on-site restaurant is where chef Blaine Wetzel creates a menu that's earned him numerous accolades and awards, including a Best New Chef nod from Food & Wine in 2012 and a Rising Star Chef of the Year award from the James Beard Foundation this spring.
Before arriving at Willows Inn, Wetzel did a stint as Rene Redzepi’s chef de partie at Noma in Copenhagen. And it would be fair to note the influence of that storied place on his artistic preparations. Yet there are no tweezers involved in the plating of his absolutely exquisite lineup of snacks and dishes, which appear over the course of four hours on the dining room's beautifully set wooden tables. There are just nine two-tops and two four-tops, yet the small space feels expansive with a spectacular view of the water. This is an epic experience, one of those rare meals that truly exceeds sky-high expectations. Here's a photographic recap of each and every bite in the $165 nine-course tasting menu, complete with lots of extra "snacks." Note that wine pairings are an additional $85 per person, and guests who reserve overnight accommodations receive priority reservations. (For more tips on how to score a seat, read here.)