Toward the end of last year, it occurred to me that 2020 was bound to be a year of hindsight and clarity. So as Coho Restaurant and the San Juan Island Inn Collection turn to embrace this new season, my co-chefs and I spent a few moments reflecting on last year and looking forward to the months to come.
We made some big changes at the restaurant last year. We decided to open our doors seven days a week during the summer months to accommodate folks on the island for extended visits – a first for us in eleven years. We also brought on – well actually brought back – a second chef. Chef Tim Payne was with us during the 2017-2018 seasons and returned at the beginning of the 2019 season. This allowed us to keep the restaurant open as we expanded our hours and as more catering opportunities presented themselves. Having the two of us, in addition to Chef Jessica Bryan, our chef in charge of food operations at the Tucker House Inn & Harrison House Suites, has also given us a unique chance to grow our collaborative culinary “brain trust.” The three of us continue to look for, and build, relationships with local farms and purveyors.
This year we have a fantastic lineup of wine dinners and we’re also adding a couple of beer dinners for all of our hopheads out there. We have expanded our Kitchen Bootcamp series for the spring and fall to include classes in more areas of interest.
Up at the inn, we are busily cleaning up the garden plots and planning out the planting schedule. Some of the heartier herbs that wintered well are already usable, and we’ve been incorporating them into our breakfast dishes. Now that Coho Restaurant is open for the 2020 season Chef Jessica is already looking forward to the fun and creative prospects that the plethora of local produce brings.
With the slight restructuring of the restaurant menu there are a few more opportunities to really highlight the “garden gems” of each phase of the growing season. While strawberries, tomatoes, and corn are still several months away, the new growth of mint leaves is a great place to start. The special ice cream flavor available right now on our dessert menu is the classic Mint Chip, made with mint grown two blocks from the restaurant. You really can’t get much fresher or more local than that!
Cheers and Happy Eating,
Chef Ryan Lockhart
Chef Tim Payne
Chef Jessica Bryan