BY BRITTA DEVEREAUX
Few things are more romantic than a dinner date with a water view. Whether it’s a first date or date night with your spouse or partner, a table by the sea can create the right mood like no other setting. Combine that with fresh, local seafood and the magic is complete. From South Sound to the Canadian border, here are five spots in Washington that take waterfront dining to the next level.
Dockside Bistro & Wine Bar, Olympia
On the waterfront in downtown Olympia, Dockside Bistro sits with marina views at the south end of the Salish Sea. Chef Laurie Nguyen’s vibrant cuisine has French, Asian and American influences, utilizing fresh Northwest ingredients.
Dockside Bistro has a quiet, romantic ambiance, perfect for date night or a small gathering of friends. For starters, set the stage with a seafood martini—a mix of lobster, crab, shrimp, scallop and caviar in a sweet vermouth Cream Sauce. From there, let your palate be your guide with one of the creative entrees, like seared scallops, elk or one of the fresh-sheet specials.
Lobster Shop, Tacoma
Not only a favorite for special occasions, like prom night, birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, Lobster Shop—located on Tacoma’s Ruston Way waterfront—is also a great place to dine for no particular reason other than the view and the excellent seafood.
Lobster Shop has a surf-and-turf menu that often features lobster. While lobster is not native to Northwest waters, consider something local like cedar-plank salmon or other regional favorites when in season, like black cod.
The pedestrian promenade along Ruston Way traces the waterfront for miles, a perfect place for an after-dinner stroll.
Ray’s Boathouse, Seattle
This classic Seafood restaurant has been a Seattle mainstay for decades. And two things have kept them on the city’s sometimes volatile dining scene: the views from its Shilshole location and the quality of the fresh seafood. Divided into two dining rooms—the casual upstairs café and the more elegant downstairs restaurant—this spot is a favorite for any occasion.
Ray’s reputation stands on many legacies. It started as a boat rental and bait shop in 1939, serving Ballard’s fishing population. Later, a coffee shop opened to serve the hungry patrons and then expanded to a fish and chips joint; next, it transformed into a café, and finally today’s restaurant that is a must-visit for Seattleites and visitors alike.
When the region’s only native oyster, the Olympia, began to be farmed, Ray’s was the first restaurant to carry it on their menu to the delight of early foodies. The restaurant also was ahead of the curve with other Northwest seafoods, such as singing scallops, spot prawns and Copper River salmon. And it was the first local restaurant licensed to purchase directly from fishing boats.
Executive chef Kevin Murray has established relationships with local farms, ranches and fisheries to ensure optimal freshness and give the food he serves a true sense of place. Fresh, in-season seafood—like sablefish, wild-caught salmon, clams, mussels and octopus—shine on the menu.
The Swinomish Tribe operates 13moons, the fine dining restaurant at Swinomish Casino & Lodge. The restaurant sports views of Padilla Bay, a National Estuarine Reserve in the Salish Sea. The Swinomish Tribe has adorned the restaurant with native tribal art by Swinomish artists, creating a setting that immerses guests in tribal imagery and traditions.
Chef Daniel Van Norman is particularly adept at selecting the highest quality fresh seafood from tribal fishermen for his guests, and his preparations allow the seafood to shine. One of his most popular dishes is hand-cut alder wood grilled salmon, a very traditional and delectable preparation across Coast Salish Tribes. The restaurant is located on the edge of the agricultural Skagit Valley, so produce at 13moons couldn’t be fresher.
The Mansion Restaurant, Orcas Island
It’s setting in the San Juan Islands, the stunning view, the history, the food and the mansion itself all make a dining excursion to The Mansion Restaurant at Rosario Resort & Spa a Northwest must. The arts-and-crafts-style Moran Mansion, completed in 1909, was once the home of shipbuilder Robert Moran and, today, is on the National Historic Register.
If you are visiting Orcas Island, you have probably already slowed your pace. Settle in and savor a cocktail while you contemplate the unbroken view of Cascade Bay. Order from the dinner menu that changes with the freshness and availability of ingredients and be sure to ask what the chef recommends that day. After dinner, take a stroll through the mansion, which comes complete with its own pipe organ, placing you in another era.