After a relaxing hour-long drive from my home in the north end of Whatcom County, winding along Highway 20, stopping to walk mid-way across the always breath-taking Deception Pass Bridge, I meandered into the historic naval town of Oak Harbor. With a somewhat plain exterior, it would be easy to underestimate Seabolt’s Smokehouse, although you’re seriously missing out if you do. Reminiscent of a residence, holding firm to its place amongst the hustle & bustle of the downtown business district, the palette pleasing treasures that await inside are not to be missed.
I arrived at high noon, and there was already a line of friendly locals winding out the door, but ten minutes of patience garnered me an umbrella’d table on the patio – definitely worth the wait. The most difficult part of the entire experience was, hands down, making a decision on which tantalizing delights to order. After perusing the menu for longer than I’d like to admit, I found myself eagerly awaiting my bowl of New England style clam chowder, Dungeness crab cake, and absolutely chomping at the bit to sample the fish & chips that have been voted Whidbey Island’s Best for the last 7 years!
When my appetizers arrived, I knew I was in trouble. I faced the small bowl of chowder placed before me (I opted out of the full size option, which comes in a fresh baked bread bowl, & really, what’s better than edible dishes?!?) so filled with large bites of clam & potato that it was easily enjoyed with a fork, and the oversized crab cake, perfectly crispy on the outside and bursting with chunks of perfectly seasoned fresh meat.
While we let our nibbles settle, I took some time to check out the rest of the dining area. With an open kitchen, plenty of windows, and diner seating, Seabolt’s is definitely a family friendly establishment. A portion of the menu is set aside for “landlubbers,” featuring gourmet burgers, salads, filet mignon, & chicken strips for those diners with a less aquatic palette. The restaurant also features a small deli display case, showcasing gourmet selections available to take home & enjoy on your own patio including fresh seafood, smoked salmon, landjagers, jerky, and their famous house recipe smoked salmon pate. If you prefer to catch your own fish/game, Seabolt’s also offers custom smoking services, using the best ingredients and smoking with Alder wood.
When the food arrived, the portions were on the large side. We had ordered popcorn shrimp, beer battered filets of halibut, cod & salmon, & seasoned fries spilling over their baskets (all cooked to perfection – crisp on the outside, flaky & moist on the inside). Not to mention the accompanying sides of homemade cole slaw (don’t tell mom, but it’s almost better than hers) & chili lime tartar sauce. Now, I’ve always been a tartar sauce purist – mayo, dill relish, lemon, & a little pickle juice – but this, was by far, the best tartar sauce I’ve ever tasted! So much so, that I may have requested enough to fill a jar to take home with our to-go box (sadly, they weren’t willing to part with a full jar’s worth). The name says it all; it’s everything you’d expect from a smooth, crisp tartar sauce, but with a slight kick of chili & lime. Excuse me while I salivate on my keyboard…
After nibbling on far more than is advisable, I knew that there was only one thing left to do. Order dessert. With choices that range from Lemonade Cake, Carrot Cake, and a Summer Berry Stack, to the aptly named “Big Chocolate Cake” I honestly didn’t know which to choose. Luckily, my hostess was kind enough to offer her advice, and told me that the “Big Chocolate Cake” was the only way to go. She was correct, as was the description. 6 layers of dark chocolate cake, each separated by smooth chocolate filling, topped with a deep dark ganache, & standing an astounding 5 inches high. I swear to you, it was a religious experience – one that I shared with a few of my fellow diners, as the single slice was large enough for a party of 5!
Offering dine in & take out 7 days a week, Seabolt’s Smokehouse offers a warm & friendly atmosphere with some of the best seafood this Northwest native has had in a long time! A full menu can be found online at www.seabolts.com, and be sure to check them out for yourself the next time you’re in the area, or better yet, take a day trip to enjoy some of the most breathtaking views in Washington, along with some of the most memorable eats!