Willows Inn: August 2014

Food - recipes, reviews, and discussion
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Andrew Kotowski
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5685
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 1:42 pm
Location: Sammamish, WA
Has thanked: 38 times
Been thanked: 63 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#1 Post by Andrew Kotowski »

After seeing Scott's thread on Willows Inn, I thought I'd post some pics I took last night from dinner. Couple of quick thoughts:
* Cocktails were good, not spectacular. You do get a "free" appetizer course with them. We had several.
* All-in, with ~20% tip was $700. Included 3 cocktails, 2 dinners w/wine (and a beer) pairing. No option that I saw for additional supplements
* Casual attire was interesting. One couple had running shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops, another was decked out. I opted for nice jeans, a button down and loafers, which was probably the right altitude.
* Photos below taken with a Nokia 1020, no flash in a room that got progressively darker. A couple of the photos are a little blurry, but consider that they're taken at short range, with me attempting not to be obnoxious about taking photos in a dining room champagne.gif

View from the porch, while drinking cocktails.
WP_20140827_17_30_11_Pro.jpg
Appetizer course, served with cocktails - Taylor's oysters, lamb prosciutto and rhubarb with sugar.
WP_20140827_17_34_23_Pro.jpg
Mussel, smoked with alder wood, served in a box. Server pops the top on the box, smoke comes out.
WP_20140827_18_44_40_Pro.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Instagram at @akgrill

User avatar
Andrew Kotowski
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5685
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 1:42 pm
Location: Sammamish, WA
Has thanked: 38 times
Been thanked: 63 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#2 Post by Andrew Kotowski »

Will only let me post 3 photos at a time :D

Crispy kale with black truffles. Truffle dots were intense.
WP_20140827_18_48_30_Pro.jpg
Crispy crepe with steelhead roe, chives. One of my favorite plates.
WP_20140827_18_50_52_Pro.jpg
Halibut skin cone, filled with halibut
WP_20140827_18_53_28_Pro.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Instagram at @akgrill

User avatar
Andrew Kotowski
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5685
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 1:42 pm
Location: Sammamish, WA
Has thanked: 38 times
Been thanked: 63 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#3 Post by Andrew Kotowski »

Wild plum skins, with grape/thyme sauce
WP_20140827_18_57_58_Pro.jpg
Grilled shiitake mushroom
WP_20140827_19_07_54_Pro.jpg
Rye bread with shaved, cured egg yolk and aged leg of venison tartar - awesome.
WP_20140827_19_14_34_Pro.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Instagram at @akgrill

User avatar
Andrew Kotowski
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5685
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 1:42 pm
Location: Sammamish, WA
Has thanked: 38 times
Been thanked: 63 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#4 Post by Andrew Kotowski »

Beets, with lavender, thyme and coriander, served with yogurt. Flavors were wild, and I'm not generally a beet fan.
WP_20140827_19_28_31_Pro.jpg
Strangest course of the night - gooseneck barnacles. Pretty sure this was added to the meal because the chef said "barnacle? I can make those edible."
WP_20140827_19_37_56_Pro.jpg
Local spot prawn, poached with its roe, drowning in butter. Looking for a way to go? Drowning in butter would be in my top 5, behind drowning in pork fat and possibly drowning in pinot noir.
WP_20140827_19_40_39_Pro.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Instagram at @akgrill

User avatar
Andrew Kotowski
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5685
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 1:42 pm
Location: Sammamish, WA
Has thanked: 38 times
Been thanked: 63 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#5 Post by Andrew Kotowski »

Smoked sockeye. Jiro would be proud.
WP_20140827_19_49_26_Pro.jpg
Sliced geoduck with "pork crunchies"
WP_20140827_20_01_34_Pro.jpg
Fresh baked bread - served with butter and pan drippings. I could slurp the pan drippings until I had a coronary. Just saying.
WP_20140827_20_15_40_Pro.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Instagram at @akgrill

User avatar
Andrew Kotowski
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5685
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 1:42 pm
Location: Sammamish, WA
Has thanked: 38 times
Been thanked: 63 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#6 Post by Andrew Kotowski »

Grilled Romano beans with crushed herbs. Photo not as good; I blame the veggie plate.
WP_20140827_20_21_30_Pro.jpg
Steamed black cod with lovage and cherry tomato
WP_20140827_20_36_42_Pro.jpg
Grass-fed lamb, topped with... grass
WP_20140827_20_55_54_Pro.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Instagram at @akgrill

User avatar
Andrew Kotowski
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5685
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 1:42 pm
Location: Sammamish, WA
Has thanked: 38 times
Been thanked: 63 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#7 Post by Andrew Kotowski »

Ran out of gas here. Berries with some kind of a granita :D
WP_20140827_21_14_50_Pro.jpg
Wood sorrels, chamomile ice cream
WP_20140827_21_28_05_Pro.jpg
Only thing I skipped a pic of was a ramekin of black huckleberries because it was... a ramekin filled with black huckleberries.

Wine/Beer Pairing:
* Eaglemount Semi-Sweet Homestead Cider (Port Townsend, WA)
* 2012 Maison Bleue "Metis Blanc" (Yakima Valley, WA)
* Logsdon Seizoen Bretta Farmhouse Ale (Hood River, OR)
* 2012 Lemelson Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay (Willamette Valley, OR)
* 2009 Dusky Goose Pinot Noir (Dundee, OR)
* 2012 Brooks "Tethys" Riesling (Eola-Amity, OR)

Overall service lasted exactly three hours. No way I'd try to visit and take a ferry back. We stayed at the Low Tide room, about a half mile down the road and walked to/from dinner. If you do that, make sure you have a flashlight app on your phone and it's charged... it is pitch black outside :D
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Instagram at @akgrill

User avatar
Mark Y
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 8138
Joined: May 1st, 2009, 11:19 am
Location: Bellevue, WA
Has thanked: 62 times
Been thanked: 36 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#8 Post by Mark Y »

holy smokes.. amazing meal.. that's a lot of courses.. i'd be stuffed half way through! :)
Y.e.

User avatar
NickC
Posts: 1122
Joined: February 19th, 2011, 1:17 pm
Location: columbus, ohio

Willows Inn: August 2014

#9 Post by NickC »

i'd eat that
ch ee k (like on your face)

User avatar
John Osburn
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 928
Joined: June 30th, 2009, 12:56 pm
Location: Portland OR
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 4 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#10 Post by John Osburn »

Great post!

User avatar
Scott G r u n e r
Posts: 4101
Joined: June 6th, 2009, 9:03 pm
Location: Seattleish
Has thanked: 11 times
Been thanked: 24 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#11 Post by Scott G r u n e r »

Thanks Andrew- You had a very similar meal to mine (the menu hasn't changed a ton in the last few weeks.)

One of the most memorable meals I have had in a long time. I can still taste the kale chips, the venison, the chicken drippings... The cod with lovage (I thought it was lummage) was a bit of a miss for me as it was just a bit bitter, but there were things that I doubt I will ever have better examples of. (The smoked fishes were unreal.)

And dammit- you were lucky to get Perceves! (Gooseneck barnacles) I haven't had those since going to Lisbon. Were they local? Where were they sourced?
//Cynic

User avatar
Glenn L e v i n e
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 20722
Joined: January 27th, 2009, 6:16 pm
Location: Coos Bay, OR
Has thanked: 41 times
Been thanked: 34 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#12 Post by Glenn L e v i n e »

Thank you sir, I'm shaving shortly in preparation for dining there tonight.

I dropped wine off there yesterday, whatever corkage is we will pay it though we love that Logsdon Ale!
"Never lose sight of the fact that it is just fermented grape juice" - a winemaker and negotiant in Napa Valley, CA

User avatar
Andrew Kotowski
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5685
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 1:42 pm
Location: Sammamish, WA
Has thanked: 38 times
Been thanked: 63 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#13 Post by Andrew Kotowski »

Lovage is a PacNW herb. Beats the heck out of dandelion greens, which has been trendy for a while.

Funny thing about the Logsdon - the server made a huge deal about it being a hard to get, highly allocated beer. Stopped at Whole Foods in Redmond on the way home... and found it on sale. Picked one up, of course :D

Don't recall where the barnacles were from. I enjoyed them more for the unique experience than any redeeming flavor/taste value. Overall the visual experience was on par with the taste, which really sent it onto overdrive. The halibut skins looked insane, sitting on a bed of rocks.
Last edited by Andrew Kotowski on August 28th, 2014, 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Instagram at @akgrill

User avatar
John Osburn
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 928
Joined: June 30th, 2009, 12:56 pm
Location: Portland OR
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 4 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#14 Post by John Osburn »

Andrew Kotowski wrote: Funny thing about the Logsdon - the server made a huge deal about it being a hard to get, highly allocated beer. Stopped at While Foods in Redmond on the way home... and found it on sale. Picked one up, of course :D
Hey it's probably hard to get outside the PNW!

User avatar
Ed Murray
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 2928
Joined: February 5th, 2009, 5:47 pm
Location: Sammamish WA

Willows Inn: August 2014

#15 Post by Ed Murray »

Doesn't look like my type of food but this is a great wine:

2012 Brooks "Tethys" Riesling (Eola-Amity, OR)



Also - if that Gruner guy liked the food, it must be pretty good. [welldone.gif]
It's not the event, it's the reaction to the event!

User avatar
Glenn L e v i n e
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 20722
Joined: January 27th, 2009, 6:16 pm
Location: Coos Bay, OR
Has thanked: 41 times
Been thanked: 34 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#16 Post by Glenn L e v i n e »

Whoa, we were both largely blown away. Glad we brought wine, corkage $35/btl.
"Never lose sight of the fact that it is just fermented grape juice" - a winemaker and negotiant in Napa Valley, CA

User avatar
Glenn L e v i n e
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 20722
Joined: January 27th, 2009, 6:16 pm
Location: Coos Bay, OR
Has thanked: 41 times
Been thanked: 34 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#17 Post by Glenn L e v i n e »

Heart of Chicken Darkness really could have used a glass of aged LLC or Baron!

Kale w/ truffles, creme + roe, beets, salmon candy and that prawn haunt me this morning.
"Never lose sight of the fact that it is just fermented grape juice" - a winemaker and negotiant in Napa Valley, CA

User avatar
P. Willenberg
Posts: 2211
Joined: March 8th, 2012, 7:46 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Been thanked: 1 time

Willows Inn: August 2014

#18 Post by P. Willenberg »

Andrew Kotowski wrote:
Wine/Beer Pairing:
* Eaglemount Semi-Sweet Homestead Cider (Port Townsend, WA)
* 2012 Maison Bleue "Metis Blanc" (Yakima Valley, WA)
* Logsdon Seizoen Bretta Farmhouse Ale (Hood River, OR)
* 2012 Lemelson Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay (Willamette Valley, OR)
* 2009 Dusky Goose Pinot Noir (Dundee, OR)
* 2012 Brooks "Tethys" Riesling (Eola-Amity, OR)
I'm curious how these pairings worked. Did they bring out a new pairing every 3rd course? Did you have multiple glasses on the table at once?
Paul (@pwillen1 on CT, Twitter, Instagram)
ITB
WSET Level 3 in Sake

User avatar
Andrew Kotowski
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5685
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 1:42 pm
Location: Sammamish, WA
Has thanked: 38 times
Been thanked: 63 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#19 Post by Andrew Kotowski »

Intent was one glass at a time, with new glasses/pairing brought out in advance of dishes they paired with. Bottomless glass service, but aside from the beer, nothing that I was looking to plow through.
Instagram at @akgrill

User avatar
Scott G r u n e r
Posts: 4101
Joined: June 6th, 2009, 9:03 pm
Location: Seattleish
Has thanked: 11 times
Been thanked: 24 times

Willows Inn: August 2014

#20 Post by Scott G r u n e r »

Andrew Kotowski wrote:Intent was one glass at a time, with new glasses/pairing brought out in advance of dishes they paired with. Bottomless glass service, but aside from the beer, nothing that I was looking to plow through.
I enjoyed the cider too- first hard cider I have actually understood and liked.
But in general- I agree that the wine service was not super thoughtful or inspired. I would have been just as happy or happier even doing as Glenn did, or just ordering a bottle off the list.

I heard that juice service was really interesting, but juice is for breakfast, not dinner. [cheers.gif]
//Cynic

Frank Deis
Posts: 4857
Joined: June 3rd, 2009, 7:29 pm
Location: NJ

Willows Inn: August 2014

#21 Post by Frank Deis »

Andrew Kotowski wrote:Strangest course of the night - gooseneck barnacles. Pretty sure this was added to the meal because the chef said "barnacle? I can make those edible."
I know you're kidding -- but "Percebes" were a treat that we enjoyed in Barcelona. It's great that the chef included them in the delicious meal you had. I've heard wonderful things about The Willows, including this thread.
ITB = "I Teach Biochemistry"

User avatar
Andrew Kotowski
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5685
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 1:42 pm
Location: Sammamish, WA
Has thanked: 38 times
Been thanked: 63 times

Re: Willows Inn: August 2014

#22 Post by Andrew Kotowski »

Instagram at @akgrill

User avatar
RyanC
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 4087
Joined: June 2nd, 2009, 4:20 pm
Location: Houston, TX
Has thanked: 4 times
Been thanked: 29 times

Re: Willows Inn: August 2014

#23 Post by RyanC »

Andrew Kotowski wrote: April 27th, 2021, 7:24 pm Beyond disappointed to read this.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/27/dini ... abuse.html
Extremely disappointing indeed. Willows Inn has long been on my shortest list (perhaps a list of 1) of next-stop destination dining in the US. No longer. So sad, as I'd heard so many raves.
C@ughey

User avatar
Andrew Kotowski
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5685
Joined: February 7th, 2012, 1:42 pm
Location: Sammamish, WA
Has thanked: 38 times
Been thanked: 63 times

Re: Willows Inn: August 2014

#24 Post by Andrew Kotowski »

RyanC wrote: April 27th, 2021, 7:35 pm
Andrew Kotowski wrote: April 27th, 2021, 7:24 pm Beyond disappointed to read this.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/27/dini ... abuse.html
Extremely disappointing indeed. Willows Inn has long been on my shortest list (perhaps a list of 1) of next-stop destination dining in the US. No longer. So sad, as I'd heard so many raves.
You see the pics above - it was epic. I was planning an offsite for my team there next month and just told my EA to look at Roche or Friday Harbor instead :(
Instagram at @akgrill

User avatar
Glenn L e v i n e
Monopole Crü
Monopole Crü
Posts: 20722
Joined: January 27th, 2009, 6:16 pm
Location: Coos Bay, OR
Has thanked: 41 times
Been thanked: 34 times

Re: Willows Inn: August 2014

#25 Post by Glenn L e v i n e »

Tragic if as described. This piece seems very well annotated. Whoa.
"Never lose sight of the fact that it is just fermented grape juice" - a winemaker and negotiant in Napa Valley, CA

User avatar
Mark Y
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 8138
Joined: May 1st, 2009, 11:19 am
Location: Bellevue, WA
Has thanked: 62 times
Been thanked: 36 times

Re: Willows Inn: August 2014

#26 Post by Mark Y »

Andrew Kotowski wrote: April 27th, 2021, 8:34 pm
RyanC wrote: April 27th, 2021, 7:35 pm
Andrew Kotowski wrote: April 27th, 2021, 7:24 pm Beyond disappointed to read this.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/27/dini ... abuse.html
Extremely disappointing indeed. Willows Inn has long been on my shortest list (perhaps a list of 1) of next-stop destination dining in the US. No longer. So sad, as I'd heard so many raves.
You see the pics above - it was epic. I was planning an offsite for my team there next month and just told my EA to look at Roche or Friday Harbor instead :(
Damn off-site in lummi? I need to join your team!
Y.e.

Steve Long
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 49
Joined: January 18th, 2021, 8:14 am
Has thanked: 33 times
Been thanked: 10 times

Re: Willows Inn: August 2014

#27 Post by Steve Long »

I was supposed to eat there tonight. Would be the first dinner since that article came out. Very disappointed by the lack of accountability and response.

We tried to call a few times, left a voicemail, and then finally just emailed saying that and I would like to cancel, just got a form email back saying it’s been canceled and refunded.

James Sanders
Posts: 664
Joined: June 1st, 2009, 12:35 pm
Has thanked: 2 times
Been thanked: 3 times

Re: Willows Inn: August 2014

#28 Post by James Sanders »

Good response from the Willows Inn:



The Willows Inn
2579 West Shore Drive
Lummi Island, WA 98262

Phone: (360) 758-2620
Toll Free: (888) 294-2620
Email: info@willows-inn.com

We are so saddened by the stories from our former staff that were published by the NYT last week. It has been extremely difficult to hear these accusations and read these comments from people that we worked with so closely for years. In the past several days we have put all our time and energy into supporting our current team and our families.

We recognize that the culture of our workplace in the past has caused people undue stress both emotionally and physically.

The restaurant industry for too long has created a culture that applies an extreme amount of pressure on everyone involved to create perfection from a chaotic environment. The hours are too long, the margins are too thin and the accepted norms of behavior are too extreme.

While we want to defend ourselves from what we feel like is a biased mischaracterization of our team and our sourcing practices, it is much more important for us to take accountability for the past and create a better future.

One point that must be clarified further is that no one on our team has ever reported sexual harassment or misconduct in the workplace to our management team. The stories from this article about those behaviors are absolutely devastating and can never be tolerated.

In recent years we have made intentional efforts to improve our hiring practices, provide HR support for our team and maintain a supportive and creative environment. We have adapted our schedules to give employees shorter work days, more time off and better wages.

In addition, we will be bringing an HR representative in house to help support our team and provide them an outlet for any issues. We also plan to provide further education and training for our management team in the areas of leadership, inclusion and diversity. Moving forward we will also create a paid internship program with free housing to help create better opportunities for a wider range of backgrounds in our kitchen. This work must continue and must be the priority for all of us.

The Willows Inn and the industry as a whole needs to rally in support of the amazing individuals that create memorable experiences every night for guests around the world. No one from any level of experience or department should be treated with anything but the utmost respect for their dedication to hospitality.

It is our mission to move forward with the intentional gratitude and graciousness that will make our families, colleagues and community proud.

User avatar
ClarkstonMark
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 2000
Joined: December 19th, 2009, 12:13 pm
Location: Detroit
Has thanked: 12 times
Been thanked: 8 times

Re: Willows Inn: August 2014

#29 Post by ClarkstonMark »

doubt that moves the needle .... they will be gone with current owner/chef within a year
the third paragraph (justification/excuses?) followed by the fourth paragraph is troubling to me
Mark Cronmiller
White Lake, MI

Carter Y.
Posts: 143
Joined: September 2nd, 2014, 10:39 am
Location: Seattle, WA
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 3 times

Re: Willows Inn: August 2014

#30 Post by Carter Y. »

I actually thought it was a pretty poor response from Willows, and I'm even less willing to visit them now after reading this.
From my personal reading, the letter paints Willows Inn as the victim of the NYT reporting and as a victim of the industry that inevitably creates a hostile environment.
It says the sexual harassment was never reported to the management team, as if that is equivalent to them never having happened, and the management team does not need to take any responsibility. While I personally have no proof whether the sexual harassments happened or not, the way Willows worded the response makes it sound like they don't hold any responsibility to the accusations without either refuting them, taking ownership, or concrete steps to improve the work environment.
Y = Yeh

Post Reply

Return to “Epicurean Exploits - Food and Recipes”