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Sunsets over the Puget Sound in Washington was gorgeous during the summer. The skies are streaked with the incredible oranges, reds, and golds of a perfect captivating sunset and I spent a few evenings watching them this year. The best viewing spot I found so far was from the Chambers Bay Park. It is a huge park, dog friendly with potty bags and trashing cans frequently spaced, and a long curving path along this high ledge on the edge of what used to be a gravel quarry so there is nothing to block the view.
Most of the basin of the quarry has been turned into a golf course. The U.S. Open was there one year. But there’s a good part of it dedicated to park, including that top concourse, a large field down below it, and all along the ocean on the beach front. And like I said, the views are amazing because that emptied out quarry was planted with grass and never reforested. Which on the one hand is a little weird since just across the street from the park are neighborhoods shrouded by the intimidating presence of large evergreens which dwarf the apartment complexes and homes, joined in a twisting labyrinth of streets, beneath them.
I was thrilled to learn the golf course restaurant was perched up on the rim of what used to be the quarry, high up above the playing green and an easy walk through the upper park. I could not wait to eat there and watch one of those spectacular sunsets from the comfort of a hot indoor meal. )I also know that gold course restaurants can have some of the best eats.) Unfortunately, that was not to be as the grill is only open from 8:00 AM to Sunset at the time of writing this blog. This is probably because the park it is in, is only open from sunrise to sunset.
Since I couldn’t quite live the dream, I settled on lunch on a weekday. There wasn’t really anything on the menu which I thought was particularly appetizing. Honestly, it looked like there was a larger selection of alcoholic drinks than food. This is rarely a good sign in a restaurant. There are two wraps, three sandwiches, three burgers, four salads, six appetizers, a soup of the day, clam Chambers Bay Clam Chowder, and four “and more” options. Twenty-four options seem like a healthy menu but the only things on the menu which I really wanted to eat from the description was the Truffle Mac ‘N Cheese and the Top Shelf Grilled Cheese. That was not what I ordered.
What I went for was the Reuben. A sandwich which I know a like (when it’s done right) and had my fries which accompanied it upgraded to the restaurants’ “Lone Fir Fries” (which include shaved parmesan and roasted garlic). I also ordered a hot tea and a “Chambers Bay Clam Chowder”. I figured that the clam chowder was probably a signature dish since it was named after the location. The meal was a disaster. Don’t get me wrong, it looked gorgeous. But there were some serious issues with the eats.
My Rueben Was soaked with dressing on the bread side which was facing down, so I didn’t see it until I picked it up. The meat was piled high in the center of the sandwich, so it looked huge but was only about half as much food as I thought it was. The corned beef in my sandwich was also a little tough (and a little dry) so that I had to bit very hard to get bites off of the sandwich and even then uncomfortably large chunks of meat were coming out of the sandwich because I couldn’t bite through it. Many of the meat slices were just stuck together also, it was very disconcerting. I had to resort to using a fork and knife to eat the sandwich as it was just too sloppy and difficult to consume otherwise.
My Lone Fir Fries were a little burnt tasting and floppy. However, they were not soggy with oil the way a lot of floppy fries usually are. There was a lovely distant and ever so fait aftertaste of garlic on them. But they were almost the texture of mashed potatoes on the inside. The roasted garlic which was supposed to accompany them was almost entirely hidden by the mountain of fries I was served, and they were burnt brown crunchy all the way through. Like they crumbled in my mouth and had that bitter burnt garlic taste. I’d been excited to see them when they arrived at my table because the presentation was so beautiful, topped with a sprig of rosemary as they were. So it was particularly disappointing when to my dismay even the shaved parmesan was not quite right and ended up being dry and tough, like the restaurant had used pre-shaved parmesan from a bag/box/tub which had a tendency to dry out and is really only good for use in soups (or on top of soups where it can be safely hydrated and melted.).
The Chambers Bay Clam Chowder was alright. It tasted like a variation of clam chowder. It was topped with green onions, something which I don’t see often and greatly appreciate. I’m a green onion fan and used to have a few stalks growing in my kitchen all the time until my most recent move. The bacon was larger than I’m used to seeing in clam chowder and had just been cut into strips of just-cooked meat, instead of crisped and crumbled like so many restaurants do with their clam chowder. The broth had that nutty brown tinge to it which suggests it may have been cooked rom scratch and that the fat from the bacon was used as the base (or part of the base) for the roux. I did notice that the broth was a little thin for a cream-based soup, but it was good. Not the best clam chowder I’ve ever had. Not the worst. But definitely good. It also came with little crunchy crostini that had cheese baked crisply onto it. This I loved. The cheese tasted a little sweet for parmesan so I’m guessing asiago(?) but I could be completely wrong on that. The hardness was an excellent choice for such a brothy soup as regular bread or toast would not have been able to absorb the liquid and remain solid.
Aside from the food, service was good. My waiter was conscientious, unobtrusive, and made sure to ask if I needed more hot water for my tea before I even had to ask. Someone else came along and brought me more ice water for my glass also. However, it is key to remember that this is a golf course restaurant which means that there are occasionally large groups of players having a rowdy old time. There were two loud groups of men who ate there during the time that I was eating lunch. A couple who had met there for lunch actually got to-go boxes for their meal and appeared to have left because of one of the boisterous groups. There were a couple of individuals at the bar also who seemed to have been bothering a woman eating lunch alone there, she was also taking pictures of her food so she may have something to say about it in her review. I was left blessedly alone to consume my meal in peace if not quiet.
The restaurant is small. With an indoor dining area of about thirty by forty feet. There is an outdoor patio which looks to be about twice that size, but I didn’t go and check. I’d already spent a few hours wandering around in the cool Pacific North West morning air and had just wanted a warm and cozy lunch (okay it was my breakfast and I only remembered to eat because my son makes me set an alarm for lunch). The view was lovely, and I faced out the window, but it wasn’t as spectacular as walking along the paved pathway which I’d taken to get there or as beautiful as the sunsets which I’d come to adore.
I’ve eaten at a lot of places around the U.S. and on the West Coast particularly. And I’ll go so far as to say that some restaurants impress the heck out of me for getting their food so right for so cheap. But then there are some restaurants which completely underwhelm me. Chambers Bay Golf Course was in the second category. Maybe it was the day and time? Maybe not. What I can say is that I didn’t eat half my food and when I gave my son my leftovers as an after school snack, he didn’t really want to eat them either.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t eat there or that others are certain to dislike their food if they do. What I am saying is that I didn’t like what I had to eat that day. Maybe their breakfast menu or different options on the lunch menu are a better fit to my tastes. The groups of men eating there seemed to like their food very much. And I liked the idea behind the Lone Fir Fries, so called because there is one tree on the entire golf course, a lone fir. And I think it could have been executed better. I’m thinking of trying to make them at home, just in a way that is more palatable for me.
The experience wasn’t terrible, just not a great as it could have been.
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