Arnies Restaurants keep their inspiration close. Stationed on the Washington shore for more than three decades each, the Edmonds and Mukilteo institutions overlook the Puget Sound's rolling waters like two trustworthy lighthouses. From Edmonds, a wall of windows looks out onto the Olympic Mountains. From Mukilteo, diners can peer across to Whidbey, Hat, and Camano islands. At both, sunsets color evening dinners, the sounds of storms rolling in add atmosphere to midday lunches, and ferries pulling in and casting off from the harbor bring with them endless people-watching opportunities.
Along with these panoramic views comes a rich spread of seasonal Pacific dishes. Autumn prawns pack pastas and infuse the entree selection, popping up in both a fisherman's platter and a variation on the English fish and chips. Cashew-crusted lingcod and sea scallops in a champagne cream meanwhile reach further into the waters' bounty while also demonstrating the kitchen's skill. And for those who are content to stay on land, a slow-roasted prime rib or salad mixed from local produce balances Arnies' menu.
Following her culinary curiosity all the way to Varcaturo, Italy, Tiffany Hudson’s found herself learning dry farming and food preservation. More importantly, she discovered how a dinner can bring a community together. After coming back to the States, Tiffany teamed up with Chef Martin Woods whose resume includes serving as opening sous chef at Bastille as well as executive chef at Re:Public. Together, the two created Cassoulet Café, an eatery that serves seasonal French cuisine amid a communal table.
And the collaboration isn’t running short on admirers. Writer Sally Wolff for the Cascadia Weekly praised Cassoulet as “evok[ing] the atmosphere of a country kitchen in France” complete with “heavy plates of well-made food.” These ever-changing entrees have included bacon cinnamon rolls for brunch, ratatouille for lunch, and goat cheese pansotti pasta for dinner, accompanied by specialty cocktails and ciders. Chef Martin also serves up the restaurant’s signature French bean stew bursting with duck and house-cured pancetta.
Along with promoting conversation amongst diners, Cassoulet Café fosters green living. This includes using fresh ingredients from local farms as well as reducing their carbon footprint by 1,200 pounds of CO2 emission. That accomplishment earned the restaurant a 2012 Sustainable Practice Leader award from General Biodiesel, a company named after the first robot five-star general in U.S. history.
Situated cozily within their beachfront fortification, the culinary virtuosos at Iguana's Beach Grill shell out hearty platters of pub grub anointed with a Southwest American twist. The kitchen's bacon-and-cheddar burger (an $11 value) spans the cavernous gap between two bun halves with a succulent, beefy bridge. Meanwhile, the crab-and-gouda dip ($11) blends snow-crab meat with a mighty triumvirate of smoked gouda, aged parmesan, and cream cheese and arrives with an entourage of pita chips for dipping. Freshly plucked fruits of the sea play a starring role in main dishes, such as the portabella ravioli ($17), setting garlic prawns afloat on top of whole-wheat pasta, portabella mushrooms, ricotta, and roasted red-pepper pesto cream. Diners can relax on the beachfront restaurant's heated patio, ideally located for tossing table scraps to vagrant mermaids, or swing by on a Friday or Saturday night for live entertainment.
Deluxe Beach Restaurant whips up a menu brimming with international options running the gamut from small plates and pastas to surf 'n' turf. Plunge tongue-first into a single-serving vat of apple-smoked cheddar broccolini soup with tomato bruschetta ($9) before taming a troupe of tiger prawns with pancetta ($15). Grilled beef tenderloin with filo-wrapped mashed potatoes ($29) and an optional shiitake port demi peppercorn sauce ($5) argue compellingly for terrestrial proteins, but patrons may prefer to ransack fabled undersea orchards with the lobster, ricotta, and pear ravioli in champagne-shallot cream sauce ($33). This Groupon can also be applied toward a three-course prix fixe menu ($40), or Alex Trebek's favourite potent potables from the extensive wine list, including Cupcake's 2009 chardonnay and Avalon's 2008 cabernet sauvignon. Deluxe Beach Restaurant's modern décor allows diners to eat elegantly on the upstairs ocean-view level, or browse the beach surface from the main level's cocktail lounge and outdoor patio.