Four Swallows – worth the ferry ride
Acolytes attest it’s “worth the ferry ride” from Seattle for “some of the best” cuisine around at this Bainbridge Island Pacific NW–Italian where “seasonal ingredients prepared perfectly” assure “everything on the menu is a winner”; the “charming historic house” features a “bar with cozy booths” and “light-filled front rooms”, all attended by an “excellent”, “professional staff.”
Dishin’: Four Swallows, You Had Us at Duck
The fine folks at The Four Swallows invited us over (by over, we mean across Puget Sound) for some supper. Saturday was a superb day for a ferry ride, and after a short stroll through town, we reached the farmhouse that’s been home to the restaurant for 16 years.
Inside, it’s quaint and charming, with the staff adding to the warmth of the home. The menu changes daily, tilting a bit toward Italian, but reflecting a wide variety of dishes using specially sourced and seasonal ingredients. We decided to let Chef Geraldine Ferraro (no, not the one who said Barack Obama is “lucky” to not be white or female) do the choosing for us. She chose well.
Four Swallows, you had us at duck.
The smoked duck breast appetizer was our first dish. We love duck—the fat, the flavor, and the full-on red color. Several slices swimming in a rich cherry-red wine sauce would have been enough to make us happy, but this dish also featured Persephone Farm greens and buttered brioche along with it. Oh, and wait…hiding beneath…some Delice de Bourgogne cheese. We’re talking triple cream that’s rich, smooth, and slightly pungent. (We purr for pungent.) The dish was delicious—simple and sensational ingredients contributing varying textures and tastes.
The same greens reappeared (no complaint!) in a roasted beet salad with Point Reyes Original Blue cheese, candied pecans, and balsamic vinaigrette. We enjoyed a grilled Carlton Farms pork chop served with red onion marmalade that elevated its elegance, and an Alaskan halibut filet that was perfectly cooked (seared outside, succulent inside) and generous in portion—though some light saucing might have made it even better. The signature bread pudding dessert was heavenly and put the meal over the top. We were full for the 15-minute walk back to the ferry—full of happy memories, particularly the duck.
January 19th, 2009 – Jay Friedman, Gastronaut
Less than a block off Winslow Way in downtown Bainbridge Island, this casual, unpretentious restaurant is housed in a restored farmhouse built in 1889. Out front, under the shade trees, is a big deck for summer alfresco dining, and inside, rustic “primitive” antiques and old, high-backed wooden booths set the tone. The menu changes daily, but any month of the year, the antipasto plate, which showcases a wide range of seasonal specialties, makes a good starter. If you like seafood, keep an eye out for the seafood risotto. Pizzas and pastas make up a good portion of the menu, and there are always plenty of fresh seafood dishes.
BERNARD JACOBSON: Venerable Four Swallows is a Bainbridge Highlight
My first impression of this gracious place, more than three years ago, was of the charm and serenity of its setting in the 1889 William Grow House on Madison Avenue. In addition to the rooms in the front of the house, dinner is served also in a romantically lit bar with several dignified and comfortable booths. My second impression was that the menu was rather conventional. My third, however, was that everything my wife and I ordered was superbly cooked and quite delicious. Read the rest of this entry »
Enjoy contemporary Italian-inspired cuisine in a historic farmhouse on Bainbridge Island.
Seeking a different dining adventure? Take the 30-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island and discover The Four Swallows.
A few walkable blocks from the ferry landing, this lovely restaurant is located in an historic farmhouse where the staff is inviting and convivial. A seasonal menu changes daily, offering a small selection of dishes. Begin with a glass of bubbly paired with a sampling of smoked duck breast or delicate ricotta gnocchi tossed with cauliflower, pine nuts and golden raisins.
Another starter is Penn Cove mussels simmered with sweet Spanish sherry, a touch of cream, and a hit of smoked paprika. A main course might be fresh-off-the-boat scallops bathed in a light shallot and white wine sauce, or a grilled Carlton Farms pork chop paired with a sweet-savory red onion marmalade.
Sometimes simplicity wins the day and the pasta pomodoro—fresh linguine topped with tomato sauce and sprinkled with fines herbes—takes the prize. For a decadent dénouement, dip your spoon into the chocolate pâté topped with a dollop of crème fraîche.
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Bainbridge Island’s Four Swallows restaurant worth the trip!
When you leave the city behind and travel a considerable distance by car, then ferry to an island restaurant for dinner, you hope to end up at a place with just the sort of rustic charm Four Swallows has in abundance.
A plaque at the entrance proclaims the building’s provenance. The William Grow House dates to 1889. Will Grow was (what else?) a farmer whose fields once surrounded this spacious, antique-accented yellow clapboard house in Winslow on Bainbridge Island. He’d likely approve of what the current owners have done with the place. Read the rest of this entry »
The Blackberry Slump at the Four Swallows
For my money, there is no better dessert on Earth than the blackberry slump at the Four Swallows restaurant on Bainbridge Island, in Washington State. Slump doesn’t sound all that appetizing to you? Fine; refuse to order it, as I did, and watch as it arrives in front of your tablemate smelling like home-baked memories and looking like a cake crossed with a crumble, with blackberries glistening like jewels amid vanilla ice cream and a toasty brown crust. When I finally persuaded my husband to share it, I discovered that the slump tastes even better than it looks. — Amanda Allington, Honolulu, Hawaii
This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #126