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Allium, Orcas Island

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Allium's gotten a lot of buzz, since chef/owner Lisa Nakamura was sous chef at the French Laundry and chef de cuisine at the Herbfarm. It's a nice space, right on the water in Eastsound, and it has a great waterfront deck in back (there are blankets on the backs of the chairs if you get cold, and most of us ended up wearing the blankets last weekend). The food is perfectly executed and service is very good. Dress is casual--I was the only woman wearing even a skirt (jeans ruled). A larger selection of wines by the glass would have been nice--there were only 3 reds, 1 from WA, 1 from Oregon and 1 from Hungary.

But I did find the menu a bit disappointing. I expected something more interesting, given her resume and all the great reviews I've read. There is a fish of the day, but every day, it comes with the same thai red curry (I remember when that was an amazing dish at Ponti in Seattle...15 years ago). Mixed greens and pecans, chicken and dumplings (in July?), beef tenderloin with potato gratin...maybe tihs is what you have to serve when tourists are your customers. The salmon was perfectly cooked, and the clams in white wine were delicious, but I really did want something more interesting than these. I had hoped more local seafood (the salmon was Copper River, and there were no spot prawns, mussels, oysters or any local seafood besides clams).

I know that in the past the chef has done tasting menus if you call ahead and let her know how much you want to spend. I think next time I'll see if I can set this up--I bet she can do sensational stuff.

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Allium Restaurant
310 Main Street, Eastsound, WA 98245

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