A few weeks ago, Dan’s brother graduated from Pharmacy school. That’s a long, drawn out and torturous affair that takes three years. So when it was all over, we headed to Artist Point to celebrate. I’ve written about my love of Artist Point in the past—it’s been one of my favorite places for a nice meal.
Until this day.
Because at some point in the recent past, Artist Point has undergone something of a menu overhaul. And it’s … really fucking weird.
Let’s start with the menu itself, which is … I just don’t even know. For starters, it’s affixed to wood that was (supposedly) salvaged from winery crates from the Pacific Northwest, which, even if it’s true, is like … who cares? Then there’s the problem of reading the menu, which is … difficult. I mean, the way its structured makes no logical sense, really. On the left side of the menu, you have the “protein” … sort of. And on the right of the same line, you’ll find a description of the dish and its price. You might think you could pick something from column A and something from column B to make a meal, but that is NOT how it works. These are fixed meals. And I’m using a lot of ellipsis. Because reading the menu was really confusing for me.
Once you figure out how to read the menu, what you’re reading makes very little sense. Artist Point, which is supposedly inspired by the foods found in the dining rooms of the National Park lodges, now has a surprisingly … Asian flair. There’s Pho on the menu. And Thai-chili oysters. I know that the Pacific Northwest has an enormous population of Chinese, South Asians and Filipinos (they make up 8% of the population of Washington State), but the cuisine is not exactly native to the National Forest lodges. (And just to prove my point, here are the menus from the dining rooms at Glacier National Park Lodge, Crater Lake Lodge, Roosevelt Lodge and Lake Yellowstone Hotel.)
There’s also a selection of new side dishes, which are really, really pointless. The main meals all come with more than enough food. I’m not entirely sure why they’re even on the menu. And if we’re being totally honest, they’re incredibly fussy (hay-smoked carrots topped with ground coffee and cultured elderflower butter, for starters) and really not tasty enough to warrant the fuss.
There are a few vestiges from the old menu. The delicious smoked Portobello bisque, for example, is still there. Although it’s served in a smaller bowl than it used to be and there are fewer of those delicious crispy mushrooms on top. Boo.
I ordered two items off the old menu: the soup and the pappardelle with wild boar Bolognese. They’re both still absolutely delish. I also tried the previously-mentioned hay-smoked carrots as well as the crispy tubers (fried in duck fat), which were not quite what I’d call crispy.
Dan and his mother split the cheese plate and the charcuterie platter. The cheeses, thankfully, were all sourced from the Pacific Northwest, and Dan said it was a nice variety—but that it was like eating off of a see-saw because the plate wasn’t quite stable. (This seems like a good opportunity to point out that, in general, the plate selections and plating decisions were odd.) The charcuterie was also good, but it was, he reports, just a standard Disney charcuterie platter, featuring pork and duck products from Italy. Not the Pacific Northwest.
Because we were celebrating with a large group, I was also able to see a bunch of the other items on the menu, including the seared diver scallops, braised pork shank and grilled fillet (which, despite being a plate of meat and veggies, somehow looks so anemic).
For dessert, Dan and I opted to split the old-fashioned butter cookies with a cereal milk shake. The cookies were to-die—if they sold them by the dozen, I would have taken a whole bunch home with me. The milkshake, on the other hand, was a poorly executed copy of the delicious dessert from momofuku milk bar. It was actually super gross, and we neither took more than a sip. One of our dining companions also ordered the house-made donuts with Nutella sauce, which were absolutely delicious.
I guess my takeaway from this meal is … I won’t be going back to Artist Point any time soon. I mean, there were still delicious items on the menu, but the overall quality of the meal was so completely uneven that I don’t really think it’s worth another shot until the menu gets another facelift. It’s a shame to lose a longtime favorite restaurant to a menu change, but with my fondness for Narcoossee’s, Jiko and Yachtsman Steakhouse, I won’t be wanting for a celebratory dinner spot going forward.
Have you been to Artist Point recently? Tell me what you thought!