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EPICUREAN ADVENTURES | Half the fun is boating there
Thoughts on making a meal an adventure from new maritime-centric food and drink columnist Ann Manning.
Some people think boats are only for fishing, and some only want to wakeboard or waterski. I just want to be one with the boating experience.
For me it isn’t what activity you will be participating in or where you are going, it’s about being on the boat to get there.
The county we live in looks so different from the water. So many of us drive south to north or north to south so often we feel like we could do it blindfolded. It’s amazing how it will open your eyes to go from Port Orchard to Kingston in under a half hour and under the Agate Pass bridge.
As much as I enjoy simply being on the boat, there is one thing that pushes the whole experience over the brink for me. I’m a foodie and a wine enthusiast. Combining these three pursuits puts me in a state near rapture. I mean it: pulling the boat up, getting a table on the deck, a nice bottle of wine, a great dinner looking out on the water and I’m blissful. In that state, you could get me to listen to the baton-twirling competition on the radio, and I wouldn’t mind.
In this county we are incredibly lucky. We have well over 200 miles of coastline — more than any other county in the continental United States. There are so many places to explore by boat, but the great news is that most of those places have amazing eateries, often right on the water, to turn your boat ride into a delightful epicurean adventure.
When talking about restaurants with boat access, the first thing that comes to mind for most boaters is The Boat Shed (see, I told you it was obvious) in Bremerton under the Manette Bridge. The menu is varied and proven, the wine list is ample, the deck is huge, and the views of Port Orchard and Bremerton are great. One word of advice: their dock is good, but there is a (well-marked) submerged pier nearby, and the current can be swift at times during tide cycles, so gauge your approach carefully.
Just north of the Agate Pass Bridge on the shore of Suquamish is a beautifully approachable new dock that leads to three tasty, albeit diverse, destinations.
For those wanting upscale cuisine with a handpicked wine list (both noticeably Pacific Northwest focused), you can visit the Agate Pass Cafe. Bella Luna will tempt you with pizza, calzones, sandwiches and salads. In between those two establishments (all within sight of the dock) is the vastly underrated Troller Tavern, where you’ll probably end up sitting near someone drinking a Rainier or a PBR, but you probably won’t expect the great selections that are on the menu.
Heading back south, to the left of the Port Orchard Marina (looking from the water) is a private L-shaped dock that’s available to those who’d like to dine at Gino’s. Although I’ve heard some express that they find it a little pricey, I think the difference in value is made up on a gorgeous night while you sit outside and make the most of the ambiance.
I thought the wine list was great and, at times, they offer no corkage fees on wines purchased from Puget Sound Wine Cellar (conveniently located across the parking lot of the main marina) — plus the halibut was wonderful!
Turning back around to the North again, there’s a notable new mention in Poulsbo — The Loft — which is almost impossible to miss upstairs and to the right as you walk out of the marina. But mentioning Poulsbo to a hungry boater is like mentioning that Microsoft makes software to a computer engineer. The lesser known gem of the North End is Kingston where, again, there are many choices for the nutritionally deficient boater, but the nod goes to Main St. Ale House. Don’t be in a hurry (and if you are, tell them, they’ll speed things up), but an amazing menu, scrumptious crab cakes, and well-chosen Northwest beer selection are worth the wait.
And for those times when nothing but sweets will satisfy, look no further than Bainbridge Island. When you get off the visitor’s dock in Winslow, head to Winslow Way in front of you and turn left. Mora Iced Creamery will be on your left. It is without a doubt the best ice cream I’ve ever had. You have not lived until you have been blessed with their Chocolate Peanut Butter Moreo. Second place goes to Doc’s Marina Grill down the shoreline. Their Legendary Big Fat Chocolate Cake was best described by a good friend as “appearing at the table in a glow of light cast down from the angels.” Both places are more than a couple blocks away, but trust me, you’ll need the exercise.
Making a meal an adventure makes it taste better and there is no better way to do that than by arriving on a boat. If you don’t have a boat...make friends with someone who does.