2 Top Picks for Food and Excursions in the Vancouver Area + 2 Closer to Home Restaurant Options
Ah, the mad spring and summer season rush for celebratory brunches and barbeques – Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduations and then Wedding Showers, Weddings and Baby Showers. Tis the season. You are wondering what to eat and do for such good cause as Mother’s Day in and around Vancouver and we’ve got some suggestions. Here they are.
Let Mom Chat:
1. Fargher Lakehouse (Yacolt)
Moms universally feel cheated in the chat department, yes? Why not put Mom in the car and give her your ear for 20 minutes on your way to a fine meal at the Fargher Lakehouse? It is a beautiful, lulling drive out to Yacolt. You’ll pass countless old barns, horses, cows, and farms in a bucolic and winding drive out of Vancouver and into rural Southwest Washington on your way to this friendly restaurant that serves grass fed, local beef (RIBEYE, bacon wrapped chorizo and beef meatloaf, burgers, steak bites with beer cheese fondue), fish and chips, salmon, pastas, salads, sandwiches and my favorite, the glorious melt in mouth pork shank. Our family recently visited the Lakehouse for Easter and had a first-rate ham dinner where for the first time in my life the ham tasted and had the texture of a nice cut of pork rather than a composite and tightly packed meat product. Try to nab a homemade pie (cherry cheese) or any of the desserts (hot skillet cookie with ice cream, bread pudding, flourless chocolate “cake”), really, for they are all delicious.
The Drive to Fargher Lakehouse:
Let Mom Smell the Lilacs
2. Hulda Klager Lilac Garden + Rosie’s Diner (Woodland)
Our top pick this year for Mother’s Day eats is Rosie’s Restaurant preceded or followed by a visit to the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland, WA. If you’ve not yet visited this National Historic Site, please do visit before they close this year on May 12 which coincidentally happens to be Mother’s Day. You will see a delightful small town and be inspired by the the life of a ferociously strong, determined and resourceful woman, self-taught lilac cultivator Hulda Klager.
Hulda Klager Lilac Garden for Lilac Days (through May 12)
Once upon a time Hulda Klager was a 16 year old German emigre and recent Wisconsin transplant bride in the small town of Woodland whose new husband moved into her family’s Victorian farmhouse. The house is restored to probably better than its original condition, although it’s difficult to know for certain because it seems Hulda was somewhat of an A+ at everything she undertook, so it may be likely the home always looked like a staged National Historic Site.
Already an accomplished seamstress, Hulda became fascinated with plants in 1903 when during an illness, her friends gave her Luther Burbank’s book, “New Creations in Plant Life” and it is reported that she was instantly smitten and went at her first plant project full steam which was crossing different apples to achieve a bigger fruit in order that her apple pies did not require so much tedious peeling. Moving onward to lilacs, within twenty odd years Hulda was hybridizing lilacs at breakneck speed and receiving appointments from nearby cities to appoint her flowers as their emblems. She began hosting Lilac Days and gained recognition from plant clubs and societies around the country. It should be noted that although Hulda ultimately developed hundreds of varieties of lilacs, her early rate of success was about one in 400. Clearly she was not one to give up and this character asset would serve her well in 1948 when the city of Woodland was hit with massive floods resulting in the near total submersion of the town as well as devastation to the Klager property and plants. Ultimately Hulda’s dedication and the support of her fans and friends held up and rebuilt the property and gardens back to its flourishing condition. As the docents and volunteers will tell you if you visit, though, the Klager family was also beset with unspeakable personal tragedy, with Hulda outliving her spouse and all four of her children and many of her relatives died at a very young age. It is heartening to know that this property and its flowers live on and each year in April and May bring joy and good smells to thousands of visitors. The home has informative docent tours, live piano wafting through the home from the entry parlor, and there is a nice shed and gift shop on the property that sells plant starters and other garden friendly odds and ends. Do put this wonderful local treasure on your bucket list of places to visit if not for this Mother’s Day, then definitely next year or in the years to come.
Our choice for eats on this field trip is Rosie’s Restaurant. This is another spot with a colorful history and a spunky female character at the helm. When we visited the restaurant last week, Rosie, a nice grandma, was there and posting photographs of herself and her family “mud bogging.” Which looked to be driving a truck through the mud. For fun. Besides mud bogging and serving family-style breakfasts, lunches and dinners, Rosie informed me that she also paints and that many of her paintings are on display not only in the restaurant but also in such countries as Germany and Russia right now. Rosie’s was recommended to us by the Hulda Klager Gardens employee that sold us our tickets to the Lilac Days. It is a popular local spot that seems to be a favorite among the older generation. The specials are printed out for the month on a nice sheet of paper, like at a cafeteria, so you can plan out your month of visits. There are lunch specials and dinner specials, and every kind of sandwich and omelette and traditional breakfast and midwestern type dinner entree you can think of here. We settled on a fried egg grilled cheese served on Texas toast which was dusted in seasoning salt. There are lots and lots of choices for sides including that good old scoop of cottage cheese with a sprinkle of paprika and crowned with a black olive. Mom can also get a nice fruit plate with cottage cheese, or a simple egg breakfast with potatoes and toast, or a full lunch entree such as Salisbury steak, fish and chips, or even steak. For dessert, we are not embarrassed to admit that although the pie was identified as being frozen and reheated, not only did we scarf a slice of rhubarb-strawberry, but nodded affirmatively in shy resignation when our waitress looked at us from the counter holding up a can of whipped cream, eyes and hands signaling “yes or no?” Whomever made the pie before it was frozen indeed did not do a poor job.
Honorable Mention: 2 Local Options for Good Food
Boozy Brunch Mom:
Our choice for a nice boozy brunch in a grand historical setting — on the Officer’s Row grounds of Fort Vancouver — is the beautiful Eatery at the Grant House. Besides a killer Bloody Mary and endless cocktails and mocktails, GH has a wonderful wine list (and storage space for you collectors) and a broad menu including the Infantry Hangar Steak & Eggs, Avocado Toast, French Toast, a Dutch Baby Pancake, Country Fried Steak with Biscuit and Gravy and a Duck Confit Waffle. All pictured below.
3. Eatery at the Grant House
Seafood Buffet and Bring the Children:
4. Line and Lure
If Mother has a time making up her mind, head to Line & Lure for their epic seafood and other food brunch buffet. This is a great option if you have children in tow for there is something to eat for everyone. For more information see previous post here.