Update: sadly, the Oyster Creek Inn has closed.
Birthdays in our house are never just one day – it’s more of a birthday week (one celebratory dinner is never enough). So I took J out for dinner at the Oyster Creek Inn, one of several restaurants perched precariously on the edge of Chuckanut Drive. It’s a funny place, very quiet and romantic but with a slight rustic edge, and an amazing view down a ravine to Oyster Creek, covered in ferns and loud with the sound of the rushing water. The chef there is Peter Belknap, of Gretchens Cooking School fame, but he had somehow managed to take a vacation this week, so we weren’t able to harass him from the dining room. The food was still excellent, though! We tried to take pictures but, believe me, you don’t want to see them (too dark).
We had intended to start with the Kung Pao clams, a dish we had tried over a year ago and loved. They didn’t have it, which crushed us briefly, but we rallied and ordered mussels with ginger and chile oil, along with a half bottle of Fess Parker viognier. The mussels were some of the best I’ve ever had, just in terms of freshness and texture, and they were sitting in a sauce chock full of ginger chunks. The chile wasn’t very obvious but there was still a nice zip to the dish. It went fantastically with the viognier, which under other circumstances might have been too sweet and syrupy for my taste – but it contrasted with the fresh ginger to great effect.
For our entrees, I ordered a pork tenderloin and J got the New Zealand rack of lamb. Both were excellent, but I particularly liked what they were served with: a melange of roasted vegetables, caramelized and savory, and a tangle of red cabbage. It was dark and hard to tell, but I think there were potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, carrots – maybe parsnips? We had a bottle of Stag’s Leap petite syrah, which was big, bold and fruity – a great pairing with the meat and vegetables.
For dessert I had a cup of coffee, but J (true to form) needed to try the creme brulee. He said it had a great crust, but the custard itself was a little curdled in texture. Not that he let that stop him from eating it.
It was a nice dinner – quiet, warming and cozy. The waitress seemed a little awkward, but she also seemed to be the only person working outside the kitchen. Our table was by one of the big windows looking down into the ravine, and even though there were other diners in the room it felt very private. It’s not necessarily a place for adventurous eating, but for a mellow, comfortable evening out – just what we wanted.