Scott Ross and Deborah Taylor, who have worked in restaurants in New York and Seattle, have settled in at their new restaurant, Finistére, in Port Townsend, which offers farm to table meals made from scratch and a menu that changes with the seasons. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Chefs open new eatery in Port Townsend

PORT TOWNSEND — A new restaurant in Port Townsend is focusing on farm-to-table meals and featuring local ingredients with a menu that changes with the seasons.

Finistère, which opened to the public Sept. 9, stepped in after Sweet Laurette Café &Bistro closed in July and is run by chef Deborah Taylor and her husband, Scott Ross.

The two have remodeled the space formerly occupied by Sweet Laurette at 1025 Lawrence St., adding a new bar and cutting the seating to roughly 50 seats between both the bar and dining room.

At first, the restaurant offered only dinner service.

This weekend will mark the first full week of service at Finistère, with the final addition of a Saturday brunch on top of the already implemented Sunday brunch, Wednesday-through-Friday happy hour options and Wednesday-through-Sunday dinner menu.

“This will be the first week of all the things we planned to have open,” Taylor said.

Taylor and Ross were drawn to Port Townsend for its ready access to farm-fresh ingredients.

“We wanted to do a farm-to-table restaurant in a rural area, closer to the farms,” Taylor said. “Port Townsend felt like an obvious choice, and when we found this space, it felt like a good fit.”

Taylor said she has worked with local farmers to create Finistère’s seasonal menu.

“The farmers up here have been really receptive,” Taylor said. “They are in that conversation of what’s on the menu.”

Ross said farmers have been helping by suggesting menu options as fall quickly approaches. Spring Rain Farm, which had been supplying farm-raised chickens for the dinner menu, will soon be supplying duck instead.

“The menu will constantly be changing, so there will always be something new,” Ross said. “There will be a few staples like oysters, which we really wanted to showcase.”

Taylor said as fall approaches, she is already anticipating menu changes.

“Opening in the summertime, everything is available, but I’m actually looking forward to squash and kale and kind of hearty meals,” Taylor said. “The weather is changing, so we’re already craving it.”

Taylor is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and met Ross while the two both lived in Manhattan.

Both have years of experience working in restaurants. Taylor worked at Eleven Madison Park, a restaurant rated 3 stars by Michelin in New York. She also worked as an executive sous chef at Canlis in Seattle. They have more than 10 years of restaurant experience total.

Ross worked at a number of placed in New York, including Txikito.

“They are the ones who made me think it was a good idea to open a restaurant,” Ross said. “They were a husband-and-wife team, and they actually told me not to open a restaurant, but I did anyway.”

The move to Washington was a homecoming for Ross, whose family has called the state home for seven generations.

Ross said he has memories of summers at Fort Worden.

“I’ve always wanted to come back,” Ross said. “It’s kind of my home.”

Ross said Taylor, who studied agriculture before going to culinary school, was sold once she saw how everything grew so easily in the Northwest.

Taylor said so far, people seem to enjoy the new restaurant.

“People are seeing that we’re using a lot of ingredients, pasta made from scratch,” Taylor said. “I think people are tasting the difference.”

Ross said they have worked to keep their prices competitive with other local restaurants.

“It was important to keep our menu approachable as far as pricing,” Ross said. “We basically didn’t want to ward anyone off.”

Currently, the most expensive plate on the menu is roughly $30.

Finistère is open Wednesdays through Sundays, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., with brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The phone number is 360-344-8127.

Ross said they’ve used their brunch menu to specifically highlight local ciders and oysters.

“It’s a menu curated with care,” Ross said.

________

Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected]

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