Chef Lisa Nakamura has impressive credentials, having served under Thomas Keller (The French Laundry) and Jerry Traunfeld (The Herbfarm). When the opportunity arose to take over Christina’s, the venerable and highly regarded restaurant on Orcas Island, with a stunning view overlooking East Sound, she jumped at the chance and opened Allium this year. You always wonder if a restaurant of this ambition can make a successful commercial run of it when it’s so far removed from major urban areas where the well-heeled live who would be the most likely customers. After all, taking the ferry or coming across on your own boat is not a simple night out.
We decided to have dinner here. It was a dreary day but the warmth of the restaurant’s ambience and the spectacular view of the water quickly erased glum thoughts of the weather.
The Gnocchi with Shiitake in Roasted Garlic, Cream and Butter sauce was incredibly delicious. Soft gnocchi pillows were bathed in a creamy sauce worth lapping up with plenty of bread if you don’t scoop it directly with a spoon into your mouth first.
Not nearly as impressive were the roasted vegetables that weren’t adequately seasoned and the mediocre tarragon onion chutney didn’t add much.
Were it not for the over-roasted fingerling potatoes, the pan-fried scallops would have been a terrific entrée. Scallops and chanterelle mushrooms go so well together.
Were these missteps ones of a restaurant just starting out? The pedigree and the potential are there. Only time will tell.
Update: Allium is no longer in operation.