Living in Port Ludlow, we’re in the heart of one of the best farm and food scenes you’ll find anywhere.
You can get your morning off to a great start by dining on a farm-to-table breakfast at the Fireside Restaurant, just minutes, or even steps from your front door. Mouth-watering dishes on the menu feature the fabulous bounty of ingredients that are available locally, like Finnriver farm-fresh eggs, Mystery Bay goat cheese and roasted Finnriver berries. Afterward, head over to Mystery Bay Farm on Marrowstone Island, a short drive away, where you can actually see how that cheese is made. If it’s a Saturday, you’ll be able to venture over to Port Townsend to check out the offerings at the Port Townsend Farmers Market, frequently named as one of the nation’s best small town markets.
Olympic Peninsula cuisine combines sustainable locally-grown and foraged fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries, the abundant local sea fare, locally hunted game, and even handcrafted local wines instill a unique sense of place.
While some say farm-to-table is just a marketing buzzword, here it is truly a way of life. In fact, Port Ludlow is just 10 minutes from the agricultural region of Chimacum Valley, and, of course, it’s also home to one of the region’s very best restaurants, the Fireside.
Port Ludlow Restaurants
Fireside Restaurant. Tucked into the west end of the Resort at Port Ludlow, the Fireside takes farm-to-table dining to a whole new level, thanks to Executive Chef Dan Ratigan, who’s spent years cultivating relationships with the area’s farmers and fishers, using local produce meats, fish and artisan foods, as well as taking advantage of seasonal bounties, to create the fabulous dishes on the Fireside menu. Chef Dan and his team are serious about farm-to-table, and you’ll notice the difference in every dish. Savor produce that was picked from local farmers and put onto your plate the very same day, and take a bite of marbled Neah Bay salmon, something that only exists right here in the Pacific Northwest.
Ratigan told the Realfoodtraveler.com that 10 times more farmers were interviewed than the Fireside brought in to be its producers. They were only seeking those who bring “passion to their products,” and you can taste the results in each bite.
The dinner menu changes daily, featuring items like Jidori Chicken with Nash’s Farm Cheesy Polenta, Quillayute River Steelhead with SpringRain Farm Braising Greens, and Country Natural Beef Tenderloin Medallions. On the seasonally-changing lunch menu, you might find delights like Chef Dan’s Mac and Cheese with Niman Ranch ham and fresh, local steamer clams, along with a wide range tasty soups, sandwiches, and salads.
On a sunny day, you can enjoy sipping a cocktail or a glass of wine from the extensive, award-winning selection on the veranda, soaking up the views of tranquil Port Ludlow Bay, along with kayaks, yachts, and occasional seaplane that glide across the water. You might even catch a glimpse of a bald eagle soaring overhead while otters and harbor seals swim by.
Niblicks Café. This Port Ludlow Golf Course eatery offers breakfast, lunch and snacks, including a variety of sandwiches and salads.
Cucina Pizza. Port Ludlow is home to this Italian restaurant known for its pizza and pasta, as well as offering burgers, subs, soups, salads and homemade desserts. It also features a half-price Happy Hour, lunch specials, home and marina delivery.
Other Area Restaurants
While residents have a number of outstanding choices right at home, there are a wealth of exceptional dining options within a 30-minute drive of Port Ludlow too, including several highly rated “farm-to-table” restaurants.
Farms Reach Café, Chimacum. A locals’ favorite for breakfast and lunch, the Farms Reach Café showcases the bounty of area farms in every dish, including those edible flower garnishes. It attracts a mix of locals and tourists who come for the incredible area of baked goods, like tart rhubarb-filled pastries, local farm spring mix salad greens tossed with house-made balsamic vinaigrette and organic egg sandwiches with Tillamook cheddar cheese.
Scampi & Halibuts Seafood Grill, Port Hadlock. Scampi & Halibuts frequently makes the list of Jefferson County’s best eats, with its Wild Alaskan Halibut fish ‘n’ chips a definite favorite. While the menu is seafood-focused, there are other options, like iron steak, too.
Sweet Laurette Café & Bistro. This farm-to-table bistro and café with both indoor and outdoor seating is one of the Port Townsend’s very best. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with an emphasis on organic, local ingredients from area farms, fishers and foragers. The Whidbey Island Penn Cove mussels are a favorite, as some of the best you’ll taste anywhere in the world. You can also look forward to dishes like Cape Cleare Grilled Salmon, vegetarian, meat and seafood soups with local, fresh produce, and a wide range of salads featuring greens from local farms.
Fountain Café. A hidden gem near the historic Haller Fountain in Port Townsend the Fountain Café is another favorite with locals and visitors alike. The restaurant uses only the freshest ingredients and is also committed to supporting small and locally-owned businesses. Local seafood, organically grown greens, herbs and veggies feature prominently in its dishes. Organic, locally-baked baguettes are served with soups and salads, while entrees include items like Northwest smoked salmon, Cioppino made with Marrowstone Island mussels and clams, and natural grass-fed rack of lamb from Oregon’s Anderson’s Ranches.
Owl Spirit Café. The Owl Spirit Café is also a local favorite with made-from-scratch meals using locally sourced, organic ingredients. Enjoy the daily-changing homemade soups, local Pane d’Amore breads, local beef from Short’s Family Farm and heavenly desserts.
There are a number of local area farmers markets, including markets in Port Townsend, Chimacum and Port Gamble, where you can shop, eat and meet your local farmers.
Port Townsend. Port Townsend’s Farmers Market has received many accolades, including being named one of the best small town farmers markets in the U.S., and the very best in the Northwest. This lively community hub in the Uptown neighborhood offers top-notch food and produce from local farms and crafters along with works of art, chef demos, live music performances and more. There are over 70 vendors every week (Saturdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., April through December), including farms, cideries, bakers, artisan cheese makers, soaps, herbal salves, flowers, espresso and coffee, and lots more.
The market often hosts a number of unique vendors, like Lioness Organics, a new local business owned by a mother and daughter team who are “lovers of fine food and natural medicine, foraging partners.” Alicia is an Integrative Medicine practitioner, while mom Donna comes from the mushroom picking culture of Bohemia. They make classic drinks like hot chocolate, chai and matcha, an herbal roast, that are all enriched with medicinal mushroom extracts, paying careful attention to ingredients, and sub-species of ingredients that help support overall health. All are handmade in small batches using carefully sourced organic ingredients.
Chimacum. The Chimacum Farmers Market is open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., June through October. While it may not be the biggest, it does offer plenty of rural charms. Bring your four-legged friends, and go shopping for farm-fresh produce along with local eggs, beef, crafts, espresso and live music. The market recently added “Kid’s Day,” hosted on the first Sunday of every month, providing the perfect opportunity to bring the kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews and what have you to enjoy all sorts of crafts, music, stories and games. Events on the schedule include the chance to sit on a Red Dog tractor, storytime with the Jefferson County Library, kids’ open-mic, and crafts hosted by the YMCA.
Port Gamble. In this historic mill town, renowned for its turn-of-the-century buildings, gorgeous views and New England-style homes, you can join the farmers, crafters and artisans for the Sunday farmers market, open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you don’t meet the farmer you hope to while visiting one of the farmers’ markets, you may be able to go straight to the farm, as some open to the public for tours, and/or offer stands where in-season produce and other items can be purchased directly.
It’s a great joy for visitors and an incredible opportunity for those who live here. While not all are open for tours, every year in September Jefferson County hosts a farm tour that allows attendees to visit with many of our working farms and connect with local farms. In 2016 at the 14th Annual Jefferson County Farm Tour, 13 area farms participated, including favorites like Finnriver Farm & Cidery, Red Dog Farm, Mystery Bay Farm and SpringRain Farm. It’s a wonderful way to find out what it really takes to be a small farmer, why it’s often so hard for them to be in business, and why it’s so important to support them. You’ll have the chance to see exactly where your food comes from, how it’s grown, and get to know who grows it.
If you’ve been thinking about starting your own farm, farm visits and tours can be an excellent source of useful information, where you can meet and interact with others who are passionate about farming.
Some of the farms that can be visited outside of this special farm tour as well include:
Finnriver Farm. This 33-acre Certified Organic family farm and artisan cidery is one of the region’s most popular. Located a few miles south of Chimacum Corner, you can swing by to enjoy delicious, award-winning ciders from fruit grown on the farm, which has its own organic apple orchard with more than 5,500 trees, including 20 varieties of heirloom and traditional cider apple types. Finnriver also grows two acres of organic blueberries, primarily sold at the local farmers markets and stores like the Port Townsend Food Coop, Nordland General Store and Chimacum Corner Farmstand, but if you join its Berry Club, you’ll be on the list to attend the U-Pick events, where you can pick your own berries. The farm also grows a variety of vegetables, flowers, squash, and produces organic stone-milled flours.
Red Dog Farm. Red Dog Farm is located just steps from Chimacum Corner and runs a CSA program 10 months of the year. You can also stop by the self-service, honor system farm stand that offers fresh, in-season produce as well as seasonal plants and cut flowers.
Mystery Bay Farm. Mystery Bay Farm is a five-acre family farm located on Marrowstone Island. The WSDA-certified Grade A Dairy produces farmstead, goat milk cheeses and yogurt that are all available for general sale. Owner Rachael Van Laanen says the farm was started via ecology.
“Trying to create a truly sustainable farming system grows from observation of natural systems from which the word ‘sustainable: resilient, adaptable, evolving and thus stable’, is derived. We believe that farming can be done in an ecologically, economically and socially responsible manner.”
Educational farm tours, cheese making classes, and farm dinners are offered as well. By scheduling a tour in advance, you can meet the goats as well as tour the milk- and cheese-making facility. Van Laanen notes that while “anytime is great to schedule a tour, in the springtime, March and April, there are always baby goats.”
Sunfield Farm. This working 81-acre biodynamic farm and Waldorf School in Port Hadlock teaches holistic academic education enriched with the daily rhythms of farm life. The students, volunteers and interns all help with the farming side of the operation which includes seven acres of vegetables, fruit and cover crop. Cows, sheep, chickens, and dairy goats graze the pastures. The farm offers a CSA program.
SpringRain Farm. SpringRain is a 28-acre certified organic farm in Chimacum which produces a wide assortment of berry crops including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, boysenberries, and blackberries, along with eggs, chickens, turkeys, and lambs. A large orchard is home to honey bees, heirloom apples and pears, nuts and asparagus. Its farm stand is open year-round, seven days a week. The self-service, honor-style stand is stocked with eggs, meat, jams, fruit and vegetables, straight from the farm.
Solstice Farm. This 33-acre farm in the upper Beaver Valley raises pasture-fed lamb, pork, free-range eggs, and organic produce. It includes a large organic market garden and an apple orchard. With spring often comes animal babies, like lambs, chicks and piglets. Solstice also offers a B&B-style farm stay, and visitors are invited to participate in the feeding and care of their “babies,” and other activities. Weekend workshops are occasionally offered too, where you can learn how to make pickles, weave baskets, bind books or other skills.
Wilderbee Farm. This certified organic family farm in Port Townsend is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, between May and October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It offers u-pick flowers, herbs, lavender, pumpkins and blueberries. It also raises hens for eggs, honeybees and a rare breed of sheep known as British Soay, raised for their naturally soft wool. In season, the farm store is stocked with fresh eggs, unique garden woodcrafts, lavender essential oil and bath products, and other goods grown and produced right on the farm. In addition to purchasing items, visitors can meet and feed the sheep and take a walk on the scenic nature trails.
Mount Townsend Creamery. While it’s not a farm, you can watch local milk being transformed into artisan cheeses through the large glass windows at Mount Townsend Creamery in Port Townsend. It also offers a chance to taste the results and purchase cheeses in the cheese shop.