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French Cider August 18 tasting


Olympic Timber House

Change is constant, and change is good

I pull into the large parking lot just west of downtown Quilcene to find Paul Schmidt building stone pillars along the parking entry of the Olympic Timber House. Yet another example of this local business owner who is endeared to his business right down to the regular upgrades and maintenance a restaurant always needs. The third and fifth owner of this now classic, 40-year-old restaurant, Schmidt reels out the history to me upon my unannounced arrival (we've been watching this guy for years!).

The year was 1977. Logging was still a hot commodity in the Pacific Northwest and entrepreneur Wally Pedersen was busy running a successful logging company in the small town of Quilcene, Washington, along the east side of the Olympic Peninsula near Dabob Bay. There was only one problem. Pedersen needed to feed his logging crews, and with few options available in town, Pedersen opened his own kitchen. Later he decided to open it to the public and the Olympic Timber House was born.

Sometime after, ownership transferred to Don and Monci Cosby, with Monci continuing to run it until 2002 when the location fell on hard times and the state took possession. Enter the third owner, Paul Schmidt.

When Paul Schmidt (photo) took over, he put all his blood and guts into reviving the beloved destination-location, getting it back up and running five days a week, year around. After re-establishing the location, he sold it to Rohn Ruttledge who operated it from 2007 to 2010. Ruttledge was indicted for tax fraud at the end of the run and the doors closed again. But Schmidt held the note and took re-possession, making him both the third, and now the fifth, owner of the restaurant.

At this point, the restaurant was ready for an overhaul and Schmidt worked together with a small crew to bring it back around and up its standards for the next customers who would patronize this now legendary location.

He also upped the game by adding Steven Serbousek (photo) as the executive chef. Serbousek established a name for himself and his cooking sensibilities in Seattle chefing at popular locations like The Pink Door and Anthony's at Shilshole Marina. Serbousek made the necessary changes to the menu to amp up the food quality and bring back former customers, as well as new. In 2012, the Olympic Timber House re-opened for business and has been thriving since, with Serbousek continuing to guide the kitchen today.

One trip and you're hooked. Open year-around - Wednesday to Sunday, you can choose from a wide assortment of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and signature entrees. Whether you're hankering for delicious land food options, or local seafood delights, The Olympic Timber House knows how to please everyone in the party. Seasonal specials appear as available. Be sure to check the website for seasonal hours.

Currently, Serbousek is sourcing much of the food locally including produce from Wildwood Farms, mushrooms from local providers (you know these guys never want you to know who they are) and shellfish from Hamma Hamma Oyster Company and Penn Cove Shellfish.

Photo: Seasonal duck specail with four grain rice and asperagus

One of the few locations along the Hood Canal to feature Prime Rib on Friday and Saturday nights, a weekday visitor can also get a fix with two types of prime rib sandwiches offered any day.

As part of the remodel in 2012, Schmidt replaced the existing outdoor patio with a large group room that can seat up to 40. He then positioned the outdoor dining area along the east side of the restaurant allowing open air dining when the weather is cooperating, which seems to be just about every day during the summer months. Much of the logging memorabilia that adorned the walls in the 20th century has been replaced with other sorts of kitch including deer antlers, stuff you might find in Martha Stewart's Country Living room, and even a bear!

Looking for collectables? Schmidt operates a small gift shop on the property Saturday and Sunday featuring all sorts of interesting memorabilia. None of this is available for sale online, so you'll just have to drop in and peruse the inventory to see what's currently offered.

A restaurant that has had its ups and downs over the years, the Olympic Timber House is at the peak of its game, from food quality and flavor, to facility options. For those living in the greater Seattle, Tacoma, or Olympia metro areas, this is a destination location worth the visit, annually or even more often. Make it your next road trip!

TM/October 2017
The Olympic Timber House
295534 US Highway 101, Quilcene, WA 98376
(360) 765-0129
Lunch/Dinner, Wednesday - Sunday year-around

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