Sequim Gazette: The Dish on Dish

If you’re a logging buff…boy have I got a place for you!

Carlsborg’s Old Mill Cafe.

Six years ago, Val and Larry Culp were to transform the old Keyhole Tavern into a stained glass studio for Val. But the old bar was so beautiful, they opened a restaurant instead.

The Old Mill interior is indisputably the most clever and interesting restaurant in memory and serves as a history lesson of our roots in these here parts; like the namesake old sawmill that once upon a time was in full production on the other side of the road.

It’s almost a museum. Take your time and look around: you’ll learn something.

The history lesson begins the moment you park your car where you’re overshadowed by an ancient mammoth stump.

Inside, everywhere you look, logging memorabilia is ingeniously displayed – every booth has something interesting slipped under the glass tabletop: vintage pictures and old menus from the day of the mill (don’t look at the prices, you’ll cry!).

Everything you see here was created, bought, or built by the Culps. If you want a country cabin, I recommend you contact them for your interior design!

My absolute favorite is the intricate replica of the Old Mill set right down in the center a round table, under the gaze of a Roosevelt elk couple, the subjects of an attention-grabbing forest-life mural.

That bar that was the inspiration for the restaurant is comfy and inviting. Many times I’ve seen the owners chatting away with regulars. Probably enjoying a Classic “Shaken” Martini, or a Manhattan, or Cosmpolitan. Or maybe it was one of their premium ales on draught: Blue Moon, Fish Tail, or Black Butte Porter. Or any number of “Premium Spirits”, Liqueurs or Specialties.

After something to whet your appetite, if you were a hungry logger, what would you want to eat? Good ole American homecooked meals, that’s what. And the Old Mill doesn’t disappoint.

Greg and I, and friends, have dined here many a time and always leave satisfied.

The breakfast menu boasts The Logger: ham, bacon, links or patties and 2 eggs. Soy sausage and egg beaters are $.50 extra. Like omelets? Get lost in the Omelet Forest. Try the Mexi with spicy taco meat, mushrooms, olives, green onions, tomatoes, and green chilies with cheddar, salsa and sour cream. The Harvest Moon mixes broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, onions, garlic, peppers, and tomato with a blend of cheeses. The Ocean Omelet is filled with fresh Dungeness crab, smoked salmon, or Bay shrimp. Each three-egg omelet is served with fried potatoes and onions or buttermilk hotcakes as are the regular breakfasts. Or round up some Pigs in a Blanket rolled up with butter and maple syrup, “Frenchie” toast, or a full order of hotcakes: plain buttermilk or blueberry, or apple.

Old Mill Specialties are biscuits and gravy, Jacquot’s Harvest filled with sauteed organic veggies, or a host of Benedicts: English muffins or biscuits with meat, seafood, or veggies. Also available: Old Fashioned Organic Oats and Yogurt Parfait.

For lunch they serve hearty homemade soup among other specials.

I love salads, especially their Carlsborg Cobb Salad; crisp lettuce, hardboiled eggs, turkey and bacon, black olives, tomatoes, purple onions – and some cobbs. Rounding out the extensive salad menu: the ubiquitous Caesar, Chef’s, Garden, Crab or Shrimp Louie, or Organic Spinach mixed with crumbled crisp bacon, feta cheese, purple onion, toasted almonds and dried cranberries – blanketed with honey mustard or raspberry vinaigrette.

Their Sandwich Mill menu touts a logger-sized Big Deli with ham, turkey, roast or corned beef, and choice of cheese; their BLT adds cheddar and avocado, there’s the Club Carlsborg, and the Gourmet Gobbler layered with crisp bacon, cream cheese, and cranberry sauce. Sandwiches come with homemade soup, salad, or “Old Mill” fries…nice and crispy on the outside and sprinkled with special seasoning – definitely try those.

A Railroad Reuben (#1 Seller) with special sauce; King’s Gold Miner, roast beef piled on grilled sourdough; and French Dip with plenty of au jus are on the Hot Mill Sandwich menu.

The Logger Burgers come in chicken, pulled pork BBQ, fish, Earth veggie, or crab and shrimp cake burger. Greg and I usually split the 3/4 lb. “Kobe’ Big Buck Burger – especially good with sauteed mushrooms. Yum. Worth every unit of cholesterol.

And then there’s dinner. Begin with seafood-theme appetizers, soups and salads or make a meal out of an Asian Steak salad, Caesar with prawns, or an impressive Louie Dinner salad.

Besides lunch burgers, what logger wouldn’t wolf down Nightly Specials of “Sizzlin’ Steaks, Ribs & Chicken”? Choices are filet mignon, New York strip, Flat Iron, “House” smoked BBQ baby backed ribs, and chicken piccata; or a full-cut, juicy, slow-roasted prime rib with horseradish and au jus.

Hungry for seafood? How’s Coconut Prawns, Coquilles St. Jacques with sea scallops, Chef Dave’s own fresh crab and shrimp cakes, Alaska cod, or pan seared oysters sound? And…pasta! Traditional lasagna and spaghetti with meatballs, also Fresh Fettuccini Pasta with Alfredo or Pesto, clam or smoked linguini, a seafood medley, or chicken parmesan with Bechamel/Marinara sauce.

All the waitpersons treat you like friends; they’ve been there that long.

-Shelley Taylor; Sequim Gazette, May 19, 2010

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