Allium Restaurant: lilies and onions

The Chef de Cuisine from the illustrious Herbfarm in Woodinville, Wash. is coming to town. And she’s bringing with her a wickedly talented pastry chef.

Hand-picked by Christina Orchid to receive the keys to the restaurant that housed Christina’s, chef Lisa Nakamura is bringing her own culinary mystique to create a new restaurant named Allium, after the lily family, which includes onions and garlic. Though the restaurant won’t be “fine dining,” Nakamura said Allium’s menu will draw upon classic French technique, with exotic flavor profiles from experience gained overseas. Allium’s mid-range prices reflect her hope that guests will feel welcomed and come back once a week, not just once a year.

“I hope this restaurant becomes part of the community,” Nakamura said.

The sample menu includes greens and dressings or carrot soup with pistachio crisps and ginger crème fraiche for starters, and entrees like pan-roasted black cod with olive risotto and pickled kumquats. Dessert offerings include a lemon-lime meringue tarte with candied citrus mascarpone or chocolate pudding with cinnamon and peanut butter cookies.

“The dining room will have a warm and casual ambiance. The menu will change frequently, to keep in stride with the growing season while concentrating on the bounty of simple, fresh Pacific Northwest flavors,” said Allium’s publicist, Janna Wemmer. Nakamura said the restaurant will be a family affair: her sister and niece are busy helping her repaint the walls a soft cream color and otherwise set things in order for the grand opening on Memorial Day weekend. Pastry chef Anna Harlow-Truscott comes along with Nakamura from the Herbfarm.

Nakamura’s resume includes eminent eateries: National Geographic called the Herbfarm “the No. 1 destination restaurant in the world.” The gourmet restaurant offers $250 thematic nine-course dinners – for example, the “Spring Forager’s Dinner” – highlighting mouth-watering, luxurious ingredients like water grown wasabi root and artisanal caviars.

Nakamura also served as Sous Chef at Thomas Keller’s famed three-star French Laundry in Napa Valley, Calif. and cooked in exotic locales like Seoul, Munich, Paris, and New Orleans.

Nakamura attended L’Academie de Cuisine on scholarships and graduated with the highest honors. One of “these two crazy French guys” accepted her for an internship she described as “a trial by fire.” Her first real life test? Chocolate souffles, and they came out beautifully.

Nakamura contacted Christina with her proposal after being tipped off by a culinary acquaintance that the Orchids were looking for a chef to run the restaurant. She said Christina received quite a few phone calls from interested chefs.

“It’s a huge honor to be able to take over this place,” Nakamura said. “I hope to make her proud.”

She said she learned gracious service during her years as a flight attendant, and finds her undergraduate degree in botany useful in the kitchen. Born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, Nakamura is thrilled to be living on Orcas Island.

“People in this town have been very welcoming, warm and gracious,” she said.

Her husband, Andrew Shiosaki, works as an industrial designer in Seattle and is supportive of her new venture. “He’s always said I need to have my own restaurant,” she said. After fifteen years of cooking under others, it’s about time.

The restaurant will be open six days a week during summers and four days a week in the winter.

For more information, call 376.4904 or visit www.alliumonorcas.com.