We recently had an opportunity to head out to the Hood Canal for an overnight stay at Alderbrook Resort & Spa. It’s a nice escape less than two hours from Seattle, either driving by car, or hopping on the Bremerton Ferry part of the way (which we recommend eastbound for the return view of the city). As grand as the lodge is, the view from behind is even better, especially when the sun—and therefore the mountains—are out. The spa offers all kinds of relaxation packages, but you can also simply relax on your room’s “window box” day bed, your balcony chair, or a waterfront chaise lounge.
Dinner was on-site at The Restaurant at Alderbrook, where we put ourselves in the hands of Chef Christopher Schwarz, who sent out small plates of many menu items. The shellfish sampler was a wonderful start: a gorgeous dish highlighted by a pink scallop.
After a couple of competent salads came the most memorable part of the meal: a pair of stellar soups. A coconut-based soup smacked of Thai green curry (though not as strong) featuring sweet potatoes along with peas, pea vine tendrils and snap peas that made the dish ring spring. And a tomato-basil soup was a throwback to childhood days of a grilled cheese sandwich and Campbell’s tomato soup. But this was the adult version, rich and sophisticated, topped with a cheese crouton and a sprinkling of herb oil. Delicious!
From the fresh sheet, we loved the smokiness of the chili marinated gulf prawns, though we picked around the accompanying baby chick peas (as we did with the shellfish sampler). An even better starter was the hot smoked Columbia River king salmon; served with snap peas, pea tendrils, golden beets, and a mild horseradish crème fraîche, the salmon (apparently just smoked) was almost candy-like—in a good way.
Disappointing were our entrées—Anderson Valley lamb T-bone chops (a little gristly) and grilled bigeye tuna (a bit bland)—which were abundant (the full plates had huge portions) and ambitious, but perhaps overly so. Chef Schwartz’s dishes tend toward complex—great when it works—but for these entrées, there were too many ingredients and tastes competing with each other. For example, the tuna came crowded with sweet potato hash, spring onions, brown butter and bacon-braised green beans, and roasted tomatillo salsa.
Alderbrook can be a great getaway for fjord and food fun. We’d encourage you to especially try the soups and seafood starters, and to time your dinner to coincide with sunset, as the water view is special. You can enjoy dessert as we did in the dining room, though note that if kids are about, you’ll likely find makings for s’mores at the firepit. From the tomato-basil soup to the s’mores, the kids in us came out as we retreated to our room, enjoying our relaxing stay.
Originally posted at Seattlest (where “we” = me) on June 16, 2008.