Ferry field trip to the peninsula

We all too often forget about Port Townsend when we think about venturing off Whidbey Island, but that really shouldn’t happen. With the easy ability to walk onto the Coupeville ferry, as long as the sailing times work for what you want to do, Port Townsend is easily accessible from the island.

For our holiday gift to each other, we planned a day in the seaside town. Our agenda: lunch, window shopping, massages and a salt water soak. We hadn’t decided on dinner plans and decided to play it by ear. Here’s how our day unfolded.

Getting There

From Whidbey Island, the Keystone Ferry runs service between Coupeville and Port Townsend daily making a trip to the Olympic Peninsula an easy one. Be sure to always check the ferry schedule. The ferry runs in the fall and winter are fewer than in the summer. For example, the last boat back to Coupeville right now is 8:30 p.m., so if you are going for dinner in the winter, it will have to be an early one. Also the Keystone Ferry is prone to delays. While the normal boat maintenance delays are inevitable, this ferry route also tends to experience delays due to weather such as heavy storms, wind over 25 mph and fog. In addition to this, ferries will also get cancelled because of low coastal tides. So always check the schedule, even a few hours before you plan to depart.

These ferries are smaller than the ones on the Bainbridge, Mukilteo or Edmunds routes, so if you are planning to drive onto the ferry, I highly recommend making a reservation, especially in the summer months. If you are just visiting Port Townsend proper, you won’t need a car, so I recommend just parking and walking onto the ferry.

The ride across for a walk on costs less than $4 and is around 30 minutes, so grab a coffee and cozy up to a table with a puzzle or just gaze out across the Sound to the Olympic Mountains.

Lunch

On past trips to Port Townsend we’ve found ourselves at Alchemy for lunch. Good food and a great patio make it hard to consider something else, but patio weather it is not, so we went with Trip Advisor‘s top rated Fountain Cafe and it did not disappoint.

Since we’d been out of town on holiday travel, our fridge was pretty bare, so we were famished by the time we arrived. We started with the Roasted Garlic and Melted Brie which was served with garlic crostini. I probably have an unhealthy love of all things garlic, so this baked garlic Brie goodness was comfort food at its best for me. If you don’t love garlic as much as I do, this isn’t the dish for you, but if it is, I do recommend the Basel Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Semillion blend which complemented our starter dish well.

For our main course, Josh opted for the featured Reuben while I chose the Roasted Walnut Gorgonzola Pasta. Both were highly recommended by our server.

The Reuben was spot on, perfect at to warm up with on a cold winter day. The pasta was a hit with me, but you do need to have a true, deep love for Gorgonzola as it somewhat overpowers the overall dish. Our server warned us about this and I had trouble deciding between this dish and the Aio e Oio pasta but I felt like I’d already consumed enough garlic, which the Aio e Oio seemed to feature.

Ok…I really had not consumed enough garlic, because I have a ridiculous love affair with garlic, but I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t cause others to steer clear from us, especially the poor girl who was giving me a massage soon.

Relax, Rest, Soak Folks if you’ve been to Port Townsend and you haven’t at least soaked in a private tub at Soak on the Sound, you are depriving yourself. We booked a 75 minute couples massage and a one hour private sweetheart soak and everything about the experience was almost magical.

We were ragged from traveling to western Kentucky via St. Louis to visit family for Christmas and were in need of some time to unwind and regroup. Soak helped us to do just that. Our masseuses were so intuitive and knowledgeable that we went from tight stress balls to liquid jelly (and my masseuse didn’t seem to be annoyed by the garlic lunch that had to be oozing from my pores).

Shortly after our massage we ordered a bottle of dry cider to enjoy with our soak and soon we were sliding into the warm salt water. While the building space is small we never heard other guests outside the massage or soaking rooms as the staff work hard to make sure all guests are accommodated and following the “whisper only” policy. For a moment we felt we were emerged in our own residence with this gorgeous tub. If only this was the tub in our own home….I probably would never leave. If we weren’t relaxed by this point it was our own fault.

Finistère During our soak we had discussed walking down to the Keystone Butcher to pick up something to cook for dinner, but we were too tired to collaborate on anything, much less a culinary craving. We still had 4 hours before the last ferry, so we headed up the hill to Finistère. Funded by a Go Fund Me project, owners Scott Ross and Debora Taylor opened Finistère and it is just what the Olympic Peninsula needed. While this seaside town has some great restaurants, this fine dining spot is a gem.

Since our soak had temporarily depleted most of our decision-making brain cells, we opted for the chefs menu and wine pairing. The pours were more than ample as were each dish.

I really wish I could describe our meal to you in elegant prose accompanied by glamorous images of each dish….but the three hours relaxing at Soak makes it impossible to fully articulate here.

What I can tell you is the starter involved a series of small plates paired with a delicious dry cider. What stood out was the creamy leek soup and a shaved pickled beet dish pictured here. This was followed by a pillowy gnocchi dish and the main dish was a grass-fed New York Strip….cooked to perfection. My husband noted that they never asked us what temperature we preferred our steak, but it came out a perfect medium rare.

There was also desert. Something chocolate. It was delicate and delicious but my words fail me because of massage, soak and, by this time, wine. A good problem to have in my opinion.

We will definitely go back.

Oh…and they aren’t open for lunch but they do have BRUNCH! My favorite meal of the week.

Return to Whidbey
We had to stop by the grocery store near the restaurant to grab milk and some essentials, including more wine…because, remember, our cupboard was bare. Then we raced down the hill to catch the last (8:30 pm) ferry and made it back home by 9:15 where I immediately washed my face, brushed my teeth and happily crawled into bed.

A perfect day, indeed.

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