Discovery Road leisurely serpentines alongside the shores of its namesake bay, from the heart of Chimacum to downtown Port Townsend, Washington. These tourism hubs — the former a rural rendition, the latter a portside history lesson — make up just two destinations in the Olympic Culinary Loop of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, a self-guided map to tasting and touring the diverse coastal cuisine and drink.
Conveniently located between the two towns on this highway abutting the picturesque Discovery Bay, the Chevy Chase Beach Cabins (and its lodging predecessor) have been providing beds for heads and stuffed bellies since 1897. Originally opening on the hillside bluff above the bay as Saint’s Rest, the Italian-style main house, cabins and property have been passed through the generations.
Chevy Chase received its new name in 1923 after it was purchased and refreshed by Mary Chase, naming the inn after the Cheviot Hills in England where her family originated. The name stuck, even after Chase sold the property post World War II, with the next family-ownership running the show until current owners Jennifer Dickey and Jeff Betinol purchased the property in 2012.
Today, the Chevy Chase Beach Cabins carry on the historic charm, with seven vacation cottages set on the immaculately manicured by property. (The landscaping comes courtesy of Betinol, who, on a recent visit, joyfully admits he loves the opportunity to drive his riding lawn mower.) The cozy, simply decorated (yet aptly appointed) and dog-friendly cottages have everything you need for a stay – like WiFi, beach towels, fully equipped kitchens, grills on the deck — and nothing you shouldn’t, such as cable TV.
Six of the cabins are neighboring each other on the main property, while the more-private seventh cabin is across the street, all with dramatic views of the bay and the Olympic Mountains. Summer months allow for heated swimming pool access, tennis and basketball courts, a rope swing, croquet, bocce ball, horseshoe and more.
The bay can be easily accessed from a quick trail down to the south-facing, private, sandy beach — which stretches for over two miles and is typically a prosperous location for clam digging, campfires and sand dollar collection.
Outside of its charm, natural beauty and welcoming hospitality of the couple behind the cabins, Chevy Chase is also a premium location for savoring the sips and bites of Chimacum and the greater Port Townsend area.
Within 15 minutes of this home base, abundant food and drink activities can meet any and all hungry, thirsty needs. In Chimacum, Finnriver Farm & Cidery’s cider garden stakes its claim as the main attraction — the 50-acre orchard property is found on a historic former dairy farm, just south of the town’s central intersection. The fields and buildings have been renovated to keep the farm feel alive, providing a gathering space through several communal buildings and tasting rooms, connecting cider drinkers and beyond to the land they are standing and sipping on. Be sure to snag a sip of anything that is seasonal or a one-off, like the rotating Crew Selection or a rare, higher octane apple wine.
Across the intersection, Farm’s Reach Cafe is perfect for a quick bite for breakfast or lunch. The counter-service eatery makes most everything it sells from scratch and by hand, with two bakers in house (one specializing in gluten-free goods) with all ingredients being organic, sustainable and usually hyper-local. Try the cinnamon French toast when available, the hearty turkey sandwich or biscuits in any form.
From Farm’s Reach, the opposing side of the intersection hosts the Chimacum Corner Farmstand, where you can load up on fresh, regional produce, locally made goods, from alcoholic beverages to meats and coffee. Each local product is tagged as such, sharing what it is and where it came from.
INTO PORT TOWNSEND
Heading the opposite direction from Chevy Chase, Port Townsend awaits. Before committing to the seven-minute drive on Discovery Road, take a quick sidetrack to Alpenfire Cider. The orchard and cidery is the largest organic cider apple orchard in the country, a modest endeavor owners Nancy and Steve Bishop planted with their own four hands. The small-batch, handmade cidery speaks to the small-batch, handmade ciders the couple makes, like the THC #6 (a draft-only, dry cider named for its traditional heirloom cider apple blend) and the Discovery Trail, a still, heirloom “cider on the go” packaged in a 1.5-liter bag that gives back to the Olympic Discovery Trail.
Port Townsend Vineyards sits on a stunning property at the edge of Port Townsend proper, with ample outdoor seating options, an event space and an inviting tasting room inside a barn. Though majority of the fruit for the wines is brought in from Eastern Washington and Oregon’s Willamette Valley, the winery has an organic vineyard on nearby Portuguese Hill, which was planted in 2015 and should be producing quality coastal grape varieties soon. In the meantime, try the brooding and savory 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir from Keeler Estate Vineyard in the Willamette Valley or the 2017 Reserve Pinot Gris, a slightly orange Gris with plenty of stone fruit and mineral.
For those seeking beer, Port Townsend Brewing is a 21-and-over (and dog-friendly) establishment in a portside office park, producing beers long-loved by locals and tourists alike. The brewery is a modern resurrection of the town’s first brewery that opened in 1906 and shuttered from Prohibition, opening with new life in 1997 as a seven-barrel system that has now since doubled to meet demand. The taproom is reminiscent of a wooden ship, so belly up and order the last of the Winter Ale (a malty, heavily hopped English-style ale) or go standard with the Bitter End IPA or the flagship porter.
For those seeking a less mainstream beer experience, Propolis Brewing makes seasonal, botanical and herbal ales and pours them from their taproom just up the street. Local ingredients play a large role in the production of the beers, from the barrel-aged selections to the farmhouse offerings. Everything is made inside the sunny yellow taproom and each beer is a limited offering so don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on these higher end ales. When available, give the Pêche a go, typically a wine barrel-aged saison fermented with Brettanomyces and peaches, or the Sigrid, a Belgian-style quadrupel brewed with juniper and spices.
EATS TO SOAK UP THE SIPS
With all these sips, eating is mandatory and its best to start with coffee. Better Living through Coffee is found in historic downtown Port Townsend, hovering over the port across the street from the Victorian-style buildings that dot the main drag. The menu touts fair-trade, organic and locally roasted drip coffee and espresso — with organic herbal teas, smoothies and specialty drinks also available, like those featuring the house-made chai and house-made salted caramel sauce. Sip a Caffè Chetzemocha with cocoa, spices and chipotle peppers while gazing out the wall of picture windows that open up to the waterfront and Olympic Mountain views.
Pane d’Amore can sate any sweet or savory pastry tooth at its Uptown artisan bakery, a miniature storefront sporting a case packed with freshly baked daily offering like flaky danishes, crusty cinnamon twists, hearty muffins and various loafs of bread.
For a more substantial — if dining on bread products alone is not an option — eaters can head to Reveille at the Commons in the nearly renovated culinary space of the historic Fort Worden, the military base-turned-park just two miles north of downtown. The park’s main restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with seasonal menus focused on local ingredients. Don’t miss Bubbles and Brunch each Sunday in which a farm-to-table brunch menu is matched with bottomless mimomas and Bellinis; or the five-course tasting menu wine dinners each third Thursday of the month.
If Port Townsend only has you for one night, save your dinner reservations for Finistère. Run by the husband-and-wife, manager-chef duo of Scott Ross and Deborah Taylor, Finistère is a love letter to Port Townsend. The couple came from the New York restaurant scene to Port Townsend via Seattle, where Taylor served as the executive chef of Staple & Fancy and Ross worked at Goldfinch Tavern before picking a location and committing to the town they fell hard for a few years prior.
The casual and warm restaurant is designed with the area in mind — blue shiplap panels the walls that are modestly adorned with local art and photography, allowing the food to take centerstage. Spring for the chef’s tasting menu, a multicourse selection of Taylor’s choosing for $50 per person (and the aptly paired wine addition for $30 per person).
A recent visit highlighted the chef and restaurant’s breadth: the first course featured six small plates ranging from delightfully gooey ham croquettes and a chilled asparagus vichyssoise to fresh-shucked oysters and a crostini stacked several inches high with house-made chicken liver mousse. Pasta, an entrée and dessert are always included, and in this case were the handmade, tricolored creste di gallo with capicola, spicy marinara and mascarpone; the just-seared scallops with romesco, cauliflower and Meyer lemon; and a blissfully dense flourless chocolate torte.
This is just a sampler platter, served up from the convenient location of the Chevy Chase Beach Cabins. Port Townsend, Chimacum and the Olympic Culinary Loop have plenty more to offer, depending on any and all tastes.