If you’re looking for your new favorite restaurant, head to Salted Grape Bistro in La Conner. Formerly located in Bothell, where it was the Salted Grape Cafe, owners Chef Nathan Salter and Sommelier Leslie Grover relocated north after losing their lease during COVID. Lucky for La Connerites, because the Salted Grape is beyond excellent.
The new bistro is located in what was formerly Whitey’s BBQ, on the corner lot across from the Channel Lodge. In addition to a cozy corner booth, diners can choose from comfortable table seating indoors or on the charming outdoor patio.
Chef Salter brings more than two decades of culinary experience to Salted Grape. Before shifting to a career in food, Salter went to school for art and sculpture. You’ll find traces of his artistic talents in his dishes, which are all beautifully plated, with eye-catching shapes, colors, and designs.
Start with the Charcuterie Board ($24), for instance. This edible work of art begins with an edible cracker-bowl made in-house. Nestled in the bowl are an assortment of meats and cheeses, both locally sourced and procured from around the world. Offerings change weekly, but the board I sampled included rhubarb lavender jam from Girl Meets Dirt, pickled blueberries from Bow Hill Blueberries, and an insanely tasty boerenkaas from Oregon.
Bagel lovers will be in heaven with the Salmon Bagel ($15), made with salmon cured in-house and served on a toasted bagel with pea sprouts, onion, and tomato. Another lunch option is the Steak Hoagie ($17). Strips of flank steak are marinated in soy, giving it a deep umami flavor that pairs perfectly with the sweet sambal aioli and slightly spicy chili sauce. The bread is at once soft and crusty, resulting in one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever tasted.
For something lighter, turn to the salads. The Garden Salad ($7/$12) is a good choice, as it features the bistro’s namesake. Warning: salted grapes may become your new favorite salad topping. They’re sweet and chewy and feel a little like salad candy. Also candy-like are wedges of goat cheese almond nougat, made from goat cheese, almond slivers, and orange zest. Paired with farro and squash, this salad is ridiculously tasty and generously portioned.
The entree menu is small but mighty. The Wild Mushroom Ravioli ($23) is a standout among standouts. All of the bistro’s pasta comes from Bellingham Pasta Company. While the mushroom filling in these oversized raviolis is delicious, the unique zippy flavor comes from the sauce, flavored with castelvetrano olives and tomato relish.
Another solid option is the Fresh Halibut ($34), featuring a filet of buttery, locally sourced fish served atop a potato pastel, flavored with a mild lemon caper sauce. For those who’ve never had a potato pastel, it’s like a giant, fancy hash brown — soft on the inside and with a slightly crunchy exterior that complements the tender fish. For a meatless entree that’s almost too pretty to eat, try the Veggie Galette ($24).
The drink menu is overwhelming in the best way, thanks to Grover, who has a long history in the wine industry. Alongside beers, ciders, and wines sourced from the Pacific Northwest, you’ll find curated bottles of wine from France, Chile, and Italy. Prices span the gamut to meet any budget or occasion, ranging from $30 to $120. Another fun option is a wine flight, which lets you sample four carefully selected wines.
It’s mandatory that you finish off your meal with a slice of the Wescott Cheesecake ($9). The secret recipe comes from Salter’s great-great aunt. My slice came with a cherry topping and mouth-watering sour cherry sauce, but the bistro often does a lemon version, and may dabble in stone fruits while they’re in season.
The bistro is open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. They are closed on Monday and Tuesday. 110 N. 1st St. Unit A, La Conner, 360.399.1166, thesaltedgrape.com