THE WIL­LOWS INN, LUMMI IS­LAND

Prestige (Malaysia) - - Indulgence -

While the Wash­ing­ton State coast­line has ruggedly beau­ti­ful al­lure in spades, Lummi Is­land, 100 miles north of Seat­tle and 30 miles south of Canada, has some­thing else: The Wil­lows Inn, hands down among Amer­ica’s best restau­rants helmed by one of the coun­try’s bright­est culi­nary tal­ents.

Prior to mov­ing here eight years ago and win­ning Best New Chef by Food & Wine mag­a­zine and three James Beard awards, Head Chef Blaine Wet­zel worked un­der René Redzepi at Noma. You can trace his New Nordic ex­pe­ri­ence in the prix fixe 20-course tast­ing menu: Ev­ery in­gre­di­ent has been sourced from the is­land and its waters to cre­ate a din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that tells the story of what’s hap­pen­ing here, to­day.

Pink singing scal­lops and black radish are fol­lowed by just-poached spot prawns crowned with their own roe; meat cour­ses might in­clude elk tartare with wild herbs and rye bread, and whole bar­be­cued lamb with rose­mary and an­chovies. You’ll also get veg­eta­bles, adapted to this north­ern cli­mate, from the res­tau­rant’s one-acre farm. Even the bar at The Wil­lows — the only one on the is­land — re­flects the sea­sons, of­fer­ing cock­tails an­chored by in­fu­sions that shift as flow­ers and herbs ap­pear. Din­ner at the 34-seat res­tau­rant starts at 6pm and ends around 9pm, and is priced from US$243.

You don’t have to spend the night, but a stay at one of its seven pared­back rooms on stand-alone farm­land, beach or cliff homes, or suites af­fords you more hours to im­merse in Lummi’s un­tamed wild­ness and a day fish­ing, crab­bing or spot­ting the San Juan ar­chi­pel­ago’s na­tive or­cas. If not, it’s a seven-minute ferry ride be­tween Lummi Is­land and the main­land.

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