Inn at Langley

I’d heard about the Inn at Langley. I was vaguely familiar with the James Beard Award-nominated executive chef, Matt Costello, because I’m curious, and a food lover, and a voracious magazine reader. So, when I had the opportunity to stay overnight and dine there recently, I packed my bag and made my way to the quaint seaside community of Langley on south Whidbey Island.

The exceptional dining experience, which honestly was just about the best dinner party I’ve ever attended, is a sensory journey for the epicurious. Wrap that in an overnight stay, and it’s an indulgent delight of a destination experience.

The rooms at the inn (starting at $335) are all waterfront and face the Saratoga Passage and Camano Island. I stand on the deck breathing in the fall sunshine and salty air. My room includes a deep soaking tub, floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides, a luxurious bed, a fireplace, and just the right amount of space.

Outside the dining room, a small waterfall cascading gently into a reflecting pool, and magically composed gardens offer a soothing prelude to dinner. I entered the dining room and was immediately served a glass of sparkling wine amid aromas of warm pumpkin and spices as music carefully curated by Costello provided a fitting backdrop. A name card awaited me at a large wooden table in the dining room. The spacious dining room is highlighted with a grand see-through fireplace, an open kitchen, and one large community table surrounded by several tables for two. On my table are two large terrariums, created by Costello’s wife, Jodi Starcevich, that have tiny human figurines hiding in the miniature, leafy forest.

Each guest was served as if they were the only one in the dining room. Chef de Cuisine Emily Bell delivered at least one course to each guest, taking time to explain what they would be enjoying.

With every first bite of each course, I closed my eyes and truly tasted with my whole mouth. If beauty were a taste, this was it. The 12-course tasting menu ($160 per person, additional charge for wine pairing), had some exceptional surprises. Whipped eggs, caviar and chips, and salmon rillette were served on a Plexiglas surface, with an iPad underneath that rotated through pictures of local scenery. The whipped eggs, caviar and chips were a curious combination of satin and crunchy, with flavors of light cream, oil and salt. When the beef rib, mustard and citrus pickle were served, each server blew out what we assumed was just a candle, but was actually warmed cumin oil, and poured the oil over the dish. Buttery, rich meat melted on my tongue, just as the cumin oil had melted over the ribs.

After 15 years as head chef, Costello continues to be inspired by his surroundings and influenced by global cuisine and has a goal of “creating a little dinner party every night,” he tells me the next morning over the Inn’s generous complimentary breakfast. He’s grooming Bell, his chef de cuisine of eight years, to take on a bigger role. Both started as pastry chefs. “We both have an awe of enthusiasm for the same things,” he explains.

Says Bell: “I love working with Matt. He’s a great teacher. He’s extremely creative and so patient.” Together, they are hosting the best dinner party I’ve ever been to. It fed more than just my hunger. It fed my soul.

400 1st St., Langley
360.221.3033 |

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"If beauty were a taste, this was it."