Willows Inn

April was a tough month for us starting off with a bunch of high moments and then a crushing downer that our regular readers will be familiar with from posts over the past few weeks. So we resolved to change our mojo, clear our heads and then try and figure out what to do next. We bought a new car and then KMJ surprised me one afternoon with a hold on my calendar for the following weekend simply saying “Willows Inn”.

I had heard of Willows Inn, in fact one of the collection of smaller anniversary gifts I had given KMJ last August was an IOU for dinner there and Mark and I had been talking about a surprising the girls with dinner one weekend this summer. If you haven’t heard of the Willows Inn yet, you will soon. The NY Times included it on a list of Ten Restaurants worth a plane ride about a year ago which put the Inn up there with establishments in Europe and even Australia and no doubt also put it on the bucket list for hordes of foodies.

The Willows Inn is a small B&B located on Lummi Island and you get there via a really small 20 car ferry that you catch just north of Bellingham. Lummi is one of the smaller San Juan islands and upon arrival at the Inn you have a great view of Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island with Clark, Matia, Patos and Sucia islands off in the distance and farther off the coast of British Columbia and the city of Richmond. As the story goes they put an ad out on Craigs List a few years ago looking for a chef to take over their kitchen and create a menu focused on local products. A local chef named Blaine Wetzel had just moved back to the area after spending some several years working in kitchens in the US and Europe, notably at Noma in Copenhagen which has been on the top of the 50 best Restaurants in the World list for the past couple years and he happened to see the ad and came on up to Lummi Island and the rest is history still in the making.

After a leisurely day of driving through the Skagit Valley, a couple of quick attempts to see the Tulips, lunch at Tweets and some obligatory baked goods from Bow Edison we finally found our way to the ferry and took the quick 10 minute ride across to Lummi Island. Like I said, the ferry is really small, in fact you can’t get out the car which for whatever reason is usually not great for me but it was a calm day and we crossed without any incident. After that a quick 10 minute drive and we arrived at the Inn which Is situated overlooking the beach and Puget Sound on the west side of the island.


We were staying the night which seemed like a good idea given the large meal and wine that we were anticipating having later that night. In fact most of the year it’s about the only way to get a dinner reservation, the restaurant only seats about 25 people and the majority of reservations are held for guests at the Inn. After a couple hours of walking on the beach and relaxing we changed and headed downstairs for a pre-dinner cocktail. There’s only one seating for dinner each night promptly at 6:30 so we didn’t want to be late.

We sat out on the deck enjoying the evening pre-sunset and had a couple of their signature cocktails to start things off. I had a Corpse Reviver which was gin, lillet, and a few other things; very refreshing actually with some nice citrus and KMJ had a Spotted Owl which included some reductions of pine needle and nettles and though it sounded a bit earthy was also on the citrusy side and pretty good.


At 6:30 pretty much on the nose we were invited to come take a seat in the small dining room and begin our journey. The menu was simply wrapped in rustic leather and offered up five courses which we knew would be intermingled with a series of “snacks” though we had no idea exactly how many we were in store for.


The Somiler came around and offered up a dry hard cider to start off the night and then the server, actually one of the Chefs who all do double duty both preparing and serving each course came around with our first snack of the night.


This simple wooden box was left for us to open and with a puff of alder smoke revealed a slow smoked sun-choke root that had been slowly cooked in the smoker along with some moss for about two days prior. It was of course smokey and chewy and quite good showing what you can do with bits that most people would probably just add to a compost pile.


Our next two snacks were a crispy fried crepe filled with cream fraiche, scallion and trout roe, crispy an creamy with a fresh snap of the roe and then a house made potato ship with smoked halibut (caught just up the road) and house made sauerkraut which was a great balance of texture and flavor with the smokey fish, salty chip and just the right amount of pickle on the kraut.


Our next snack was this beautifully plated oyster dish comprised of fresh local oyster lightly pickled in sauerkraut brine served with shallot and scallion on a bed of frozen rocks encased in ice. The presentation was really clever and accentuated the flavors, a fantastic oyster though not KMJ’s favorite thing she did try it J. This was followed with a crispy kale with black truffle and rye crumbs, an odd combination I thought but it really worked well. Just the right amount of truffle and that played nicely off the kale and crispy rye.


More snacks kept arriving and all throughout the Chef that delivered the plates to the table told us about the origin and preparation of each dish, these two were a locally harvested scallop with fresh cream and tarragon followed by a lightly grilled bite of the scallop roe. The scallop was a great match with the cream and the herbs just helped bring it all together. The roe was warm and semi-soft with a nice salty richness to it.


Finally the first course of grains with a puree of watercress and thinly sliced geoduck arrived just as the sun made what turned out to be it’s final appearance of the day so we lost out on the sunset but quickly forgot as we dove into the first course. It was great, I keep saying that and I mean it. This was really good food all around and the flavor and texture combinations of the chewy clam with the softer grain and fresh greens was so fresh and just delicious.


More snacks arrived next, a locally foraged and lightly grilled mushroom with a great smokey slightly dry texture on the outside and juicy, meaty inside just a perfectly cooked mushroom. Again, not KMJ’s favorite but she ate and I think enjoyed it. Just outside the dining room there’s a large wood fired grill and vertical smokehouse and we watched all night as the cooks ran back and forth preparing grilled dishes and pulling racks out of the smoker. This next snack was a locally caught Coho Salmon they had smoked over the alder and served slightly warm with the instruction to eat with our fingers. We dove right into a perfectly smoked piece of salmon and it rapidly vanished from the table leaving us hungry for more.


The second course of locally caught (of course) squid with Kohlrabi arrived next and was as you might guess delicious. Just a little char on the squid and the nice crunch of the kohlrabi. This was followed with a house baked bread (sourdough starter with some rye) and homemade butter, both of these were excellent and we ended up getting a refill on the bread.


In what was becoming a trend more snacks were delivered, first a braised octopus with a scallion puree with some herbs and black pepper. The octopus was perfectly cooked, soft and moist, slightly sticky with none of the rubbery texture you so commonly find and that scallion puree was just the perfect accent. Our other snack was a ceviche, mine was made from venison heart and KMJ who had requested a pescetarian menu got a kohlrabi ceviche. Organ meats can be hit or miss and this one was a hit for me though had I not been told it was venison heart I would have guessed it was seafood, the flavors were predominantly of citrus and spice with the slightly chewy texture of the heart making a good substitute for the usual fish in this dish.

The third course was a wilted nettle salad with edible flowers and fresh cheese and of all of the courses and snacks I thought this was the weakest. That said it was quite good but we both thought it needed some more texture, maybe a bread crumb or something else to give it a bit more crunch since the nettles and chees were just chewy and soft.


Back to the snacks, our next offerings were a crispy, puffy halibut skin with razor clams, excellent! Next up was a grilled oyster served with a sage-brown butter sauce with a bit of tequila and this was my favorite dish of the night. The oyster was just perfectly cooked, the sauce was outstanding and I could have eaten a dozen of these easily. Fortunatly for me KMJ opted to skip this oyster so I got an extra one. It was around this time when they brought out more of the delicious bread along with a small bowl of chicken drippings to use a dipping sauce. Sometimes the simple things are just the best and this was certainly one of those times.


Our fourth course arrived and mine was a grilled lamb and for KMJ fresh razor clams (the first of the season we were told) and both came with grilled scallion and homemade ricotta. Really well cooked, delicious and simple, enjoyed both courses and looked onward to towards desert.


Our desert started off with a snack which was a thin candy like shell filled with the same Spotted Owl cocktail that KMJ had started off the night with, it was as she found out a bit delicate and the first one exploded in her hand, but the brought another right away and it was a nice but potent palate cleanser to transition onto the sweeter side of things. The final course from the menu was a sorbet of rosehips with sweet herbs and like the other courses was quite good with several different textures and flavors blending together to create a nice conclusion to the meal or so we thought.


The final snacks were a firm goat cheese made just for the Inn by a creamery on San Juan island and a flax seed caramel made on site. The cheese was *really* great, wish I could have bought some to bring home and the caramel was just the right balance of sweet and chewy without being overly sticky and sugary. For anyone keeping score the dinner ended up being five main courses and seventeen snacks spread out over almost four hours.

We ordered a couple post dinner drinks to help digest and retired upstairs to our room where we promptly passed out for the night. One of the many great things about the Willows Inn is having the rooms literally right above the kitchen, no need to stagger that far to fall asleep to the sound of the crickets and distant waves on the beach.

We woke up the next morning right around our usual 7:00 AM thanks to the dedicated training of our cats who ensure we never oversleep their usual feeding time and lounged around before heading down to breakfast. I had pretty much forgotten that in addition to being a great dinner spot this was also at it’s heart a bed and breakfast so back to the dining room we went.


Breakfast started with a homemade muesli over the top of some yogurt and topped with strawberries, excellent. The main course was a fresh poached egg over a slice of alder smoked pork loin with a side of potatoes and a raisin scone. KMJ gave me her egg which was really good with a dark orange yolk and the pork was delicious. Now totally stuffed we packed up and took a quick drive around the island before heading back on the slightly choppier ferry ride back to the mainland and the drive home feeling like our mojo had indeed changed for the better.

Skillet Diner

Last week for Keith-O’s birthday, we finally checked out Skillet Street Food’s new permanent spot, Skillet Diner.  I knew my sister had chosen the right spot when I glanced over at the bar and saw the special cocktail of the night:  Old Grumpy Man  🙂

They serve breakfast all day and faniced up comfort food for lunch and dinner.  They also serve draft wine which was a new experience for the rent’s.  It’s a pretty good deal because you get essentially get a free glass when you buy a bottle..

I had the Mac & “Cheese”  which was delish – had a butternut squash sauce instead of a cheese sauce.

Dessert was the real star of the evening though – fried waffle with bacon carmel sauce.   MMM….

Happy Birthday Keith-O!

KMJ’s Birthday dinner w/ Ruhlman

When I saw one of BK’s favorite’s, Michael Ruhlman, was coming to town to promote his new book I knew we should snap up tickets quick.  Since the event was organized as an intimate dinner the day before my birthday, BK bought the tix so we could celebrate a day early – even better, the Sailer’s got tickets too!

We started out with a fancy drink in the bar before heading into the private dining rom at Dahlia Lounge.  Tom Douglas came in to intro the evening and the menu, then Ruhlman said a few things before starting to meander through the dining room.  While I appreciate the fact that he was making an effort to greet everyone personally I was hoping for a little more open conversation and q&a.

Dinner was centered around the theme of braising, on of the chapter’s in Ruhlman’s book.  Fun style of cooking, but for me and Shelby that meant two meat dishes headed over to the boys (they did not complain).

First course was Tomme de Segala, braised gala apple, apple jelly, arugula, toast:

Next, Tomato braised sturgeon, green olive, fennel:

Breast of goose with braised leg, chestnut bread pudding, brussel sprouts, pickled huckleberry:

Red wine braised short rib, smoked potato agnolotti, black kale, chanterelles:

Sticky Toffee Date Cake, hot buttered rum sauce, braised cranberries, butter pecan ice cream:

Despite my best flirty attempts with Ruhlman, he apparently only had eyes for BK:

Hunger + Milk Bar = Delicious

Avid readers of the blog know that BK & I fell in love with the cookies at Momfuku Milk Bar while we were in New York last summer – so, when I saw the Milk Bar pastry chef had a new cookbook coming out AND she would be in Seattle at Book Larder to promote it, I quickly snapped up tickets.  Mom & Mar came along too, so we met up for happy hour first at a new spot nearby that Mar recommended, Hunger.

We shared some small plates and enjoyed most everything that arrived.  My only disappointment was the fried gnocchi which sound amazing but needed more flavor.  The prawn bruschetta was a good bite and I enjoyed my stacked up tower of veggies:

At Book Larder, we were treated to a cup of cereal milk upon arrival as well as a plate of Milk Bar favorites.  We chatted around and looked through the new store (go visit!), then listened to the chef tell some stories of how Milk Bar came to be.  We got our cookbook signed, stuffed our purses full of more cookies to take home, and headed out full of sugary bliss.

Ice Creams for Dinner!

To celebrate our first anniversary BK gave me a few different fun adventures for us to enjoy in the coming months, starting with tonight’s outing to Palace Ballroom for Tom Douglas’ Ice Cream Social.  7 of Seattle’s ice cream purveyors were on hand to dole out samples of their goods and we noshed away:

  • from Parfait we tried Blackberry, Butter Toffee Crunch, Ballard Honey and Double chocolate.  The Honey was especially interesting and I really liked the blackberry too.  My favorite overall ice creamery for the evening.
  • Next was Peach ice cream with pecan crumble, and peanut butter ice cream with pretzel and caramel swirl from Dahlia workshop.  Both of these were good, except the pretzels got a little soggy and chewy in the peanut butter ice cream.
  • Procopio gelato had hazelnut, stracciatella and fig.  The classic flavors were good – neither of us liked the fig though.
  • Old School Custard featured an Affogato with either chocolate or vanilla custard.  I’m just not a custard person.
  • D’Ambrosio had a chocolate biscotti gelato and a ricotta gelato with candied fruits.  Really yummy, nice textures, interesting flavors.
  • Fainting Goat Gelato served up pink Grapefruit, almond, salted caramel and cherries jubilee.  My second favorite spot of the night overall.  The pink grapefruit was really good – its texture was not the usual sorbet texture due to the soy they add as BK found out.  The almond actually tasted more like hazelnut and the Salted caramel more like butterscotch, but still delicious.
  • Peaks Custard had chocolate turtle and beautiful Bay leaf.  I said earlier I’m not a custard person but I actually enjoyed both of these.  the bay leaf really surprised me and turtle anything is usually good 😉

Dairy’ed out we wandered over to the Triple Threat (aka Bed Bath & Beyond) then into the bar at Dahlia Lounge to get some real food in our tummies too.  I had the perfect appetizer to finish off my dinner in reverse:  three fried chicken fingers, a piece of grilled watermelon with some corm, and a small buttermilk biscuit with jalapeno homey butter.  Summer on a plate!  BK had a bowl of clams.

Dish it Up

Last night we went to cooking class at Dish It Up in Ballard, a present from my parents.  My mom and I had previously been to a jam-making class at their magnolia store so it was nice to check out the Ballard location as well.  Mom had signed us up for “Alfresco Summer dining” taught by John Neumark from Bill the Butcher.  Dish it Up has a huge granite counter to sit everyone at (up to 20!) and then the class is more demonstration style versus hands-on.  But you get to eat the fruits of the chef’s labor so it’s not a bad deal 😉

First up was grilled asparagus with reggiano and poached duck egg.  Since there was 18 of though, the egg was chopped hard-boiled in stead of poached.  I usually only like my eggs scrambled so I was a little leery but it wasn’t too bad.  I would have been happy without though too.

Next was supposed to be butter lettuce salad with dijon vinagrette and poached spot prawn.  Tip learned here was to marinate teh shallots in lemon juice or some other acid first before adding them to the dressing to cut their sharpness a bit.  We got the salad but no prawn, not sure what happened there.  There was one point when the chef was about to start plating and BK & I noticed go ” oh shoot”, which I think might be the moment he realized he forgot the prawns, but who knows?  I love butter lettuce.

Maincourse was his mama’s fried chicken and succotash.  I’m not sure I really knew what succotash was, but it was yummy:  corn, green beans, fava beans, roasted red peppers, a bunch of herbs.

and for dessert, cherry chocolate chip ice-cream.  The texture was a little icy and could have used more cherry if you’re a cherry lover.  I liked the chocolate chunks.

Fun night!

Canlis

I’ve lived in Seattle pretty much my whole life and even if you haven’t you probably know about Canlis.  It’s an institution, the oldest fine dining restaurant in the Seattle area that I’m aware of and people spanning a wide range of ages all seem to have been there at some point.  Whether it was back in the 60’s when steak and lobster was $8 (or less) or more recently for the amazing looking whole duck for two ($96) the people I’ve talked too about Canlis all seem to just love the ambiance, service and somewhat over the top nature of the whole Canlis experience that’s somewhat out of character for the normally casual Seattle dining scene.

KMJ and I decided to take her parents out to dinner for their 40th anniversary and what better place than Seattle’s iconic beacon to old school high end dining?  We arrived a few minutes early and the valet whisked the car away while we sat down to a stunning view of Lake Union and Gasworks park.  Now if only it wasn’t for that dress code, I mean honestly “Gentlemen will feel most comfortable in a jacket”. Really?  I’d feel most comfortable barefoot in shorts and t-shirt but whatever.  I guess dressing up is half the fun right and I think that means I’ve actually put on a jacket 4 times in the past year now, thats some kind of a record anyhow  </rant> and back to the topic at hand.

The menu at Canlis has a little bit of everything, some interesting appetizers, mains that include things like salmon, steaks and a pasta and some accompaniments like the truffle fries and twice baked potato.  We opted to order the Canlis Salad and Peter Canlis prawns to share for the table along with a reasonably priced bottle of Malbec to go along with the dinner.  Note that the Canlis wine list has about 3000 options on it from $40 on up to $4000 so there’s plenty to choose from but come early if you want to read the whole thing.

Cantaloupe Soup

    Canlis Salad

Normally I would have gone through the wine collection we have at home and just brought a couple bottles along, I mean why should I pay them $100 for a 2007 D2 when I have it sitting here and paid $35 for it.  Canlis was a step ahead of me, they will cork your wine for $35 a bottle but it can’t be anything on their wine list, and short of buying a bottle to two buck chuck I didn’t have anything at home that wasn’t on their massive phone book of a wine list.

Honestly my preference would have been to go for the tasting menu and really see what the chef is all about after all how better to get a sense of what they can really do right?  The regular dinner menu was what I expected, a little something for everyone; a collection of classic dishes elevated to a higher level through preparation and presentation.

I was a little bummed that there wasn’t something on there with the exception of the whole duck for two that really screamed out as being different.  In a sense Canlis is like a really refined version of a 13 Coins if you go by the menu, but 13 Coins never served up a cold melon soup like we got to start the meal.

The Amuse course was a chilled Cantaloupe Soup that was just creamy, with a strong melon flavor with some salt that just really worked.  I was surprised that it worked, but it was a good start.  While we waited for the salad course to make it’s way out we sat back and listened to the piano player knock out some jazzy renditions of Cold Play, Lady Gaga, Mumford and Sons, Nirvana, Foo Fighters and many more.  It was an interesting choice of music and in a way reminded me of our dinner at Babbo where they had pretty loud Nirvana playing through most of the dinner.

Then we waited, for what seemed like a long time.  I know theres pacing involved with a great meal but this felt much more like neglect though the bread guy kept coming around with some really tasty rolls from the Mcrina bakery.  At long last just when could wait no longer, and I had just overheard the table behind us dress down the Maitre’ d since they’d been waiting two hours for appetizers it finally arrived.

The Canlis salad might be the most perfect dinner salad ever put on a plate.  It’s like a great Cesar combined with a BLT with the salty crunch of bacon, some amazing croutons, a creamy dressing and just when you least expect it there’s some fresh mint mixed in.  I’d go back just for the salad and we’re not even getting warmed up yet.  Maybe it was the hunger talking at this point but this was a fantastic plate of food, and I’m not even kidding, I’d put the jacket and tie on just to show up for happy hour and order the salad.  In fact I’d suggest doing just that, and maybe have some truffle fries on the side, the salad is just a work of art and really hope I can find the recipe someplace.

Up next were the classic Peter Canlis prawns which have been on the menu since opening day and I can understand why.  The prawns were perfectly cooked with just the right amount of snap and the butter sauce was just rich and perfect, really, really good stuff and the only sad part of the experience was that the plate emptied so quickly.

Peter Canlis Prawns

Truffle Fries

The Truffle Fries were perfect.  Crisp on the outside, soft in the center with a great salty kick and the overwhelming aroma of black truffle. Not something I can eat all the time but once in a while they’re just the thing.

We also ordered the twice baked potato which was probably the best of the side dishes by a landslide and the forest mushrooms to go along with our main courses.

I’ll have to give some credit here, you can get a steak or piece of salmon countless places and for that matter you can just make it yourself without to much difficulty but seldom do you find such artful plating of otherwise basic dishes and not only that the garnishes really did add something to the dish other than a splash of contrasting color.

The salmon was really good which is saying something in a city thats full of good salmon dishes.  The seasoning didn’t overpower the fish and for being somewhat in the middle of no mans land as far as fresh wild salmon is concerned with the season not quite started it was a good piece of fish.

My steak was good, I’ll be really honest and say it was nowhere near the best steak I’ve had in the USA or even Seattle for that matter but it was cooked pretty well rare the way I like it.  My issue with it was that it was just tough, and I would expect an aged steak to have a lot less connective tissue and be more buttery. Now that I really think about it I don’t think the steak, a NY strip was really that well marbled and as a result was lacking in flavor though it was well seasoned and cooked.  In case your wondering, my favorite steak in Seattle is at the Met or maybe Elgaucho though I thought they used to much salt on the meat.

Twice Baked Potato

Salmon
Steak

Finally we moved on to some dessert and after much consideration decided to split the Chocolate covered Chocolate which seemed like a good way to cap things off.   It was a molten chocolate cake with a warm liquid chocolate center that came with a chocolate covered salted caramel ice cream.  Winning.  We were also surprised with a nice happy anniversary plate which was unexpected and delicious though KMJ avoided it since it was all chocolate and banana based.

Orange panna cotta

Happy 40th!
 
Chocolate covered Chocolate

Finally just as we paid the bill lamenting that unlike the rest of our recent dinners there was no Groupon involved they dropped off a final course of orange panna-cotta with rosemary and sea salt, not the most likely combination I would have thought of but delicious none the less.  All in all it was a really fun night out and worthy of such a momentous occasion.  I personally wasn’t blown away by the food in the same way that I was by Blue Hill or WD-50 but I think those places are all about the food while Canlis to me is really about the whole experience and I’m fine with that.  There were some moments of brilliance with the salad and the prawns, some downers with a slightly disappointing steak but in the end it was a great experience and that’s really what it’s all about.

Dahlia Workshop

BK and I tried out the new biscuit bar this morning and it was pretty yummy. I had ham and cheese while BK tried the fennel sausage and red pepper. Go give it a try!

(Side note: I do not currently recommend the new dumpling place down the street from same owner – pricey and not enough choice…)

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Week of Eats

Coming home from Hawaii we had an empty fridge and no chance to food shop until the weekend.  Therefore, we hit up a couple old favorites and a couple newer spots to sustain us.

Wednesday night was Pagliacci because we were getting home late and BK is always craving pizza.  He had his usual South Philly while I tried the seasonal  Mama Lil’s Pepper pizza rather than my usual, Pesto Primo.  The Mama Lil’s pie was good, probably because it had ricotta on it just like the pesto primo.

Thursday night was Fu Man Dumpling house, our go-to spot anytime we start feeling under the weather – the Hot & Sour soup will knock it right out of you!  We shared that along with boiled dumplings and potstickers.  I also really like the green onion pancake but it takes like 25 minutes to cook so I only get that when I’m calling in a to go order.

Friday night we intended to start the food shop with a visit to Trader Joe’s, but we stopped by a couple houses to drop off gifts and didn’t get to food until 8:00pm.  Since we were heading to Ballard we went to the Barking Dog Alehouse which I always like when I go there, but often forget about since it’s tucked away on a residential street in NE Ballard.  We sat that the bar where BK enjoyed a cup of French Onion soup and Halibut & Chips, while I got one of the specials, Halibut with Pineapple salsa over a risotto cake.  All yummy!

Since we missed shopping at TJ’s last night we headed that way for our big Saturday night date, stopping along the way at Anita’s Crepes for dinner (using a coupon from our Chinook Book).  I had only been here at farmer’s markets and for lunch so I was interested to check out dinner.  We shared the Charcuterie plate and a Fromage plate of three potato blinis with Feta Mousse on top.  Then BK had French Onion soup again (and declared this version his new local favorite) and the Pork Shank crepe, while I had a the Jambon & Comte.  For dessert we shared their special which had pears, brie and honey – amazing.  The honey added a great taste and it was also sprinkled with pistachios – mmm…

so, a good few days of eating upon our return.  But now we have food again in the fridge thanks to TJ’s and will stop by Costco as well tomorrow, so no more dining out ’til next weekend’s Groupon dinner 😉

Olivar

Special thanks go out to the Tully’s crew for our pre-Valentine’s Day dinner!  We had only been to Olivar once before but it quickly became a favorite so were excited to receive a wedding present gift certificate to go try it again.  What I really enjoy about Olivar is that they are essentially doing a tapas style menu, but it’s well-portioned and well-priced along with being delicious.  On this night we enjoyed:

Plato de Quesos, (Pimentón infused Manchego, Ibores goat cheese & Peñacorada, toasted almonds, cipollini jam):

Plato de Embutidos, (House-cured meat platter with chorizo, butifarra, bresaola, serrano ham pickles & mustard):

Salted Cod Brandade:

Monkfish special:

and Grilled Calamari with Squid Ink Risotto & Sweet Potato Chips:

Despite a dicey texture for me, the Salt Cod Brandade was my favorite dish of the evening, along with the monkfish. Cheese and meat are always popular at our table as well (and I let BK eat all of the blood sausage).  The only disappointment was the grilled calamari risotto – I think we have both decided that squid ink just doesn’t add much to a dish besides the dramatic black color.  Taste wise, it made the risotto pretty bland.   But overall, another delicious meal at Olivar – we’ll be back!