Dessert, water view are the stars at Camano bistro

Even close to dusk on an extremely gray day, the view out the window was stunning. In the dining room at the Camano Island Inn, a fireplace put off a soothing warmth and bright paintings of local scenes added to the cozy feeling.

My parents were visiting, and we decided to enjoy a drive north capped off with a family dinner out.

The Camano Island Inn sits up high on a bluff overlooking the water. On a clear day, you can see the Olympics.

While we were there, the water and sky were gray, but it still made for a charming scene to look out over the deck and gazebo. I kept waiting for an orca to pop up, but no such luck.

The Camano Island Inn Bistro offers a small menu featuring a selection of appetizers, pasta dishes, meat and seafood.

We started off with the calamari ($10). The little rings were served with balsamic vinegar and mustard. It was an interesting combination, one that I’d never seen before. I don’t know why, though, because it was perfect. The calamari was quite good — tender, not at all chewy and in a light breading that wasn’t at all greasy.

We also tried the spicy carrot salad ($8) with pickled radish, lettuce, cucumbers and carrots in a spicy red wine vinegar emulsion. It was delicious and we ate every bit of it. The sauce was just the tiniest bit spicy with a crisp vinegar tang. It tasted fresh and bright. We enjoyed it with a nice bottle of Bolla Riesling ($26).

For our meals, I ordered the poussin ($28). The chicken was served extremely simply. It was roasted with just the smallest bit of spices. It was delicious and incredibly tender, if a bit hard to eat neatly. I eventually gave up on manners and used my fingers.

It came with mashed potatoes and a side of vegetables. The potatoes were extremely creamy and smooth. The vegetables included squash, green beans and cauliflower, all well-cooked and -seasoned.

My mother ordered the New York steak ($36). It was tender and tasty, but nothing particularly special. My father’s salmon was better, delicious and with a fabulous texture.

For dessert, we ordered a warm chocolate cake ($8) and a panna cotta ($8) to share. The chocolate cake was warm and decadent, with a side of ice cream and a few delicious golden raspberries. It was a fabulous dessert, but even though it was outshone by the panna cotta.

We all agreed the panna cotta was the best part of the meal. It was rich, creamy and smooth. It had great flavor and was decadent beyond belief. I don’t remember the last time I had such a delicious dessert.

Throughout our meal, the service was friendly and efficient. The pace was leisurely, ideally suited to lingering over a meal while the sun set. The only thing I might do differently is order my very own panna cotta. It might be too good to share.

Camano Island Inn Bistro

1054 S. West Camano Drive, Camano Island; 360-387-0783; www.camanoislandinn.com.

Specialty: Northwestern style

Hours: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The restaurant is temporarily closed for lunch as they revamp the menu, but will soon be adding it back, along with a happy hour. Call for details.

Vegetarian options: Yes.

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