For our final evening in Washington State we decided to visit the Rhododendron Cafe. There were three reasons for this selection. First, we had been there before, and the food was good that time. Secondly, it’s too small to have a Friday night buffet, which is the way many of our favorite seafood joints in the area are going. And finally, it’s probably the closest fine restaurant.
Located on scenic Chuckanut Drive in Bow, Washington, this is an intimate cafe with garden motif wallpaper and decorations. The overall effect was cozy and comfortable, and not pretentious. Casual attire is perfectly acceptable.
The menu was limited, and for October focused on "wild and exotic" flavors of the Nortwest. The specials outnumbered the regular menu entre’s, and feature game from the area such as duck and venison. Nearly half of the back of the menu was a listing of the local farms and suppliers, showing the owners’ dedication to using homegrown foods where possible
Prices were typical for a fine restaurant. Appetizers ran from $5 to $8, with dinner salads from $8 to $10. Entre’s started at $12 and went up to $23.
The meal started with a small appetizer – a bite-sized piece of bread with rosemary pesto, topped with a slice of shiitake mushroom. We had foregone salads, and soon our entre’s arrived. Mrs. Wright had Chicken Parmesan, Laura ordered Cajun Chicken, and I got the Osso Busco with venison. Both of the chicken dishes were excellent, with just the right amount of flavoring and spices. The Cajun dish could have been spiced from one to five stars, indicating level of heat. Laura uncharacteristically ordered hers with one star, but it still had enough spice to be flavorful. My osso busco was quite tender, and served with a marinara vegetable souce and roasted red potatoes. Laura and I asked for wine suggestions for our meal. In and of themselves, the wine selections seemed a bit sweeter than we prefer, but matched with our entre’s, they balanced the flavors quite well.
Service was efficient and unobtrusive. The waitress, who I think is a part owner, was quite helpful in making wine suggestions.
The Rhodendron Cafe is a hidden gem in an out of the way location. Since we are in the area so rarely, I don’t think we will ever be regulars, but we certainly won’t turn down an opportunity to return.