Overlooking the stunning Cascade Bay on Orcas Island, Washington, The Mansion Restaurant at the Rosario Resort & Spa serves up a dining experience equal to that of its extraordinary view. The menu is imaginative, fresh and well executed.
As I drove toward the Rosario Resort I was struck by the stately structure situated at the peninsula of Rosario Point. Everything about the property is as grand as it’s initial owner, Robert Moran, who was a ship building tycoon and a former mayor of Seattle. Mr. Moran completed the mansion in 1906 and his motivation for building it was that his doctors told him he had but a year to live. Thankfully for Mr. Moran, his doctors were wrong and he enjoyed many relaxing years at the property.
According to locals, and then my own research, the Rosario Resort and its restaurant have had their ups and downs over the years. Regardless of the past, the future seems quite bright with Chef Raymond Southern at the helm. I have dined at fine restaurants around the world and the Mansion Restaurant is on par with any of them. The food was a culinary journey with extraordinary surprises, not unlike the journey to the San Juans themselves.
My sister Susanne accompanied me on this dining experience and we started off with a couple of the signature cocktails. Both were light, refreshing and perfect summertime cocktails.
- Paloma Rosa – Tequila, mezcal, chochi americano, thyme-agave syrup, grapefruit juice and alder-smoked salt finished with a candied peel.
- Guava Rose – Vodka, guava, lavender-rose liqueur, lemon and sparkling rosé.
While sipping our cocktails we started off with the seafood chowder…it had large chunks of various seafood, herbs, potatoes in a creamy base. It was so delicious I could have had a bowl and been satisfied for dinner. This dish would also make for a comfortable winter meal.
We then had a couple of the sharing plates:
- English Pea Fennel and Morel Tart – which had watermelon radish morels, goat’s milk, gruyere cheese, tomato labneh with a phyllo dough. This didn’t sound all that interesting to me, but my sister thought it did—I was so happy we tried it. A creative dish with a mix of ingredients that worked quite well together.
- Roasted Baby Beets with Asparagus – Romesco, marcona almonds and beet green oil. This dish was so colorful and vibrant. Unfortunately, a couple of the beets were not fully cooked, but those that were, along with the other items on the plate were outstanding.
For entrées we tried:
- Moroccan Spiced Eggplant -falafel, cous cous, arbequina olives, almonds, golden raisins, mint and cilantro labneh.
- Alaskan Longline Halibut – living cress, arugula and citrus salad, buttery morel mushrooms, watermelon radish, garlic scapes pesto with a fennel purée.
The eggplant dish was so unique and full of flavor, while the halibut was like butter…perfectly cook with vibrant colors and explosive essence.
We were so full, but our delightful and outstanding server talked us into one of their lightest desserts, the Panna Cotta with fresh local blueberries. It was simply outstanding and such a great finish to a fantastic meal. Or so we thought. Our server was a bit giddy about some ice cream the chef had been experimenting with and thought he’d bring out just a taste for us to try. Now, I’ve tried a lot of ice cream in my day, but never had I tasted “sweet corn” flavored. I didn’t think this sounded very good, but I have to say, it worked quite well. It has a bit of a rough texture, like corn meal, but such a sweet, refreshing and unique taste.
If you find yourself in the San Juan Islands on Orcas Island, don’t miss a chance to dine at the Mansion Restaurant, while gazing at the outstanding views of Cascade Bay. If you’ve ever eaten at the Mansion Restaurant at Rosario Resort, please leave a comment below and share your experience.