My sweetheart and I recently treated ourselves to a “school is back in session and the holidays aren’t here yet” getaway to San Juan Island for just the two of us. To relax, see inspiring art and eat. Let’s be real--to eat a lot. We so love the dining options on San Juan Island, where many restaurant have seasonal menus and feature island grown food. Fall is the perfect time to do that, when the stands at the Farmers Market bow under the abundant harvest and the talented island chefs really get going.
As a working artist I equally love checking out the local art scene. More working artists live in San Juan County than in any other county in Washington State. There is a lot to see. Every time.
We arrived on Friday evening and went straight to the Oystertale on the waterfront, an oyster and wine bar with an incredible wine, champagne and cocktail selection. They recently added sushi to their tasty line-up, so exciting. We sampled their entire raw oyster and sushi selection, delighted in the Salish Sea Martini, decorated with caviar and sea asparagus and vowed to come back for a proper wine-tasting. I don’t think I spoke during our entire time there, I just savored the fresh flavor with my eyes half closed. So good.
Afterwards we checked into our room at the Bird Rock Hotel, a historic boutique hotel, with the most amazing staff. We found a handwritten card and a chocolate bar in our Marrowstone Suite upon arrival, to welcome us back. How sweet is that? The Marrowstone Suite features a private outdoor hot tub, gas fireplace, King bed and sitting area, just lovely.
Our first stop on Saturday morning was the Farmer’s Market, which cleverly combines all of our interests: food and art and food. We browsed the colorful produce, picked up picnic makings – island made cheese, crusty, European bread, fresh berries – and checked out the array of island made crafts.
Then we were off to the San Juan Sculpture Park on the north end of the island. This beautiful place showcases over 150 sculptures on 20 acres with five trails winding through fields and woods, around a lake and along serene Westcott Bay. The weather was stunning and we took our time to visit our old favorites, to explore the abundant sculptures, new and old, and to have our Farmer’s Market picnic. Afterwards we strolled the docks of the historic resort Roche Harbor and the street lined with artists booths right at the marina.
Back in Friday Harbor we treated ourselves to the cozy farm-to-table-restaurant COHO. Their Four Course Prix Fixe Menu for $85 is such a great deal. COHO’s commitment to freshly prepared, local, seasonal food is unrivaled and the portions are generous. I practically inhaled my homemade Chorizo Gnocchi and helped my love with his Fried Chicken with Polenta, and also ate both of our homemade ice creams for dessert. Contributing to zero food waste has never been so delicious.
We ended our evening at San Juan Brewing, Friday Harbor’s very own and quite spacious micro-brewery. A live, local band was playing, while we people watched, tapped our feet to the music and sipped our Lane 4 Lager and Outer Island IPA respectively (love those names).
Sunday was our Friday Harbor gallery and museum day. There are three museums and nine galleries in walking distance to the ferry landing, not to mention the many shops featuring local arts and crafts and the gorgeous sculptures all around town. After breakfast we headed to the fantastic Island Museum of Art, featuring thought provoking exhibitions around what it means to live in our breathtaking Pacific Northwest.
For brunch we went to Cynthia's Bistro, a lovely little place serving made-from-scratch, island inspired fare in a cute, renovated house from 1920. We ordered the Ahi Tuna Burger and the Tofu Noodle Bowl along with the most skillfully made triple Mochas and sat at the beautiful outdoor patio.
We put our car in line for the afternoon ferry and explored the many galleries in downtown. I especially like Arctic Raven Gallery featuring Arctic and Northwest Coast Native work. They showcase beautiful masks, stone and bone carvings, jewelry as well as Spirit of the Wild apparel and accessories, a Canadian product line paying royalties on native designs.
Inspired and brimful with ideas for both cooking and art, we reluctantly returned to the mainland until next time.