There’s something grand to be said about escaping the mundane for a weekend of whimsy and fascinating food. In an effort to find a new staycation hotspot for our readers, we checked out Tulalip Resort Casino (10200 Quil Ceda Blvd, Tulalip, WA 98271).
Although we had been to Tulalip Resort Casino a few times over the years, we had never actually experienced anything quite like this visit. Our goal was to try it all: the food, the fitness center, the spa, and the suite – and boy, did we!
Rest + Recharge in the Orca Suite
When you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, opting to stay the night in the 750 sq. ft. Orca Suite at Tulalip Resort Casino is absolutely what the doctor ordered. This luxurious one bedroom suite offers a premium pillow top king size bed, open concept bathroom complete with glass shower and multiple jets to wake you up and get you inspired for the day – or evening – ahead. Prefer a warm tub to wash the blues away? The suite boasts a sizeable option to soak as well.
If your visit coincides with one of our usually chilly Pacific Northwest days, check out the spacious living room with flat panel television perched above a slate and wood framed gas fireplace within the suite. A kitchenette is adjacent to the room with bottled water available for rehydrating while you kick those feet up and recharge. A doorbell and dedicated entryway makes the space feel even more like home sweet home…if your home is a luxurious oasis.
Decadent Tastings with Blackfish Sommelier Tommy Thompson
Blackfish Wild Salmon Grill and Bar Sommelier Tommy Thompson is masterfully skilled in the science of food and wine pairings. Choosing to dine at Blackfish is more than just any normal meal – it’s a robust experience to be treasured. Preparing proper time to sip and savor every pairing is critical for the enjoyment of this restaurant – and it’s highly recommended. If you haven’t been here yet, you’re missing out.
“Wine is fun, let’s not get too serious about it,” Thompson shared. “Experiment with wines and food pairings, look for different pairings, ask for recommendations here. I want it to be a fun and interesting experience here at the Tulalip Resort.”
Our wine pairings for the evening were selections that could be appreciated across multiple courses instead of specifically tied to just one. We started with a crisp white from the Basque region of Spain that offered a touch of texture and a cool spritziness. The second white was from the region of Margaret River Australia, the Leeuwin ‘Art Series (#76 WS Top 100 of 2015, 96 points WS). The texture of this voluptuous Chardonnay was stunning and could compliment light seafood dishes where a filet might be the center focus.
Next, we tried the 2011 Concha y Toro “Terrunyo” Block 27 Peumo Vineyard Carmenere from Cachapoal Valley in Chile (95 Points W&S). This “peppery” delight was unhinged with a velvety and smooth finish. A filet or salmon dish would mark this masterpiece wonderfully.
The Bodega Colome “Altura Maxima” high altitude Malbec from Salta Argentina (97 points RP) followed. This brooding red, smoky, super rich pour has the potential to make cab drinkers think twice. Thompson mentioned this wine “was the monster of the bunch in terms of weight, perfect with the Filet and the Kona honey beurre blanc, pretty interesting with the salmon that is smoked on the iron wood. It also pairs well with vegetarian options.”
We opted for the following menu by Blackfish Chef David Buchanan and were pleasantly impressed: Dungeness Crab Cakes (miso-apple watercress salad and aiolis of Meyer lemon, Skagit honey-mustard and dill-black pepper); Heart of Romaine Caesar (roasted garlic crouton ring and shaved parmesan); Heritage Salmon (Alaskan Sockeye traditionally prepared, seasoned and roasted over alderwood coals on ironwood sticks – with grilled asparagus spears and corn fritter); and Filet Mignon (served with roasted fingerling potatoes dusted with lavender and fresh thyme with wild boar bacon wrapped asparagus, then finished with Kona coffee demi and drizzled with a Kona coffee honey beurre blanc, and garnished with spiced hazelnuts).
The “Sweet Finale” included the Berry Meringue Concorde (layers of crisp vanilla meringues, sweet cream and local seasonal berries – topped with meringue pieces and accentuated with a fresh berry sauce); Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake (served in a cast iron skillet, this warm date cake is covered in a sweet toffee sauce, bananas, toasted pecans, and a dollop of double cream); Triple Berry Crisp Sundae (vanilla bean ice cream layered with fresh seasonal berries, a triple berry oatmeal crisp, caramel sauce and whip cream); Chocolate Soufflé (72% chocolate meringue with fresh raspberries at the base, whipped and baked to order and served with a dark chocolate crème anglaise sauce); and the Strawberry Cheese Cake Dip (served with house-made graham cracker sticks, halved strawberries, white chocolate shards, and finished with lime zest).
There’s More Where That Came From…
Later in the evening – as if one outstanding restaurant weren’t enough to try – my guests were craving a bite of something “outside the box.” That’s where The Draft Sports Bar came into play.
This multi-huge screen establishment felt like the perfect fit for late night fare. We tried the Wrigley Field Pickles (crispy fried pickles served with blue ranch, roasted garlic mayonnaise, and red pepper jam); Curve Ball Shrimp (a handful of large shrimp wrapped in crisp wontons with jalapeño and cilantro; served over a bed of red pepper jam slaw and peanut dipping sauce); and The Draft Wings (Gin + Juice Wing Sauce, featuring Skip Rock Bicycle Tree Gin with notes of grapefruit, orange and lime – blended with fresh herbs and garlic).
Although we were obviously inside the resort, it didn’t feel like it. In fact, it felt like we were down the street from home enjoying the game on the big screen with fried pickles, Bloody Marys and a sweet and sour explosion in our mouths that we even forgot about the clock entirely. Have a large group? They have couches for that, too. Pull up a chair, get comfy and enjoy the atmosphere, food and drink attainable here.
Destinations That Take You to Journeys East and Beyond
Wherever your taste buds guide you during your visit to Tulalip Resort Casino, there’s a restaurant to fit the mold. Case in point: we had the most amazing grilled crostini and olive tapenade at Destinations Lounge. The Savory Cheesecake with four cheeses, assorted vegetables and grilled baguettes were also a hit with our small crowd.
From Destinations Lounge to an incredible new culinary world, we just had to frolic through the apps menu at Journeys East. We sampled the Pot Sticker (pan-fried pork dumpling; Goi Cuon (fresh Vietnamese spring rolls with shrimp -tofu also available); Siu Mai (steamed pork and shrimp dumpling); and Tempura Shrimp (with daikon and tempura sauce) before making our way over to the main course(s).
When every bite is as tasty as the first, you know you’re going to be full – and smiling from ear to ear! And that’s exactly how we felt while dining at Journeys East. The dinner portion of the evening included Japchae (sweet potato noodles, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, yellow onion, spinach, and sesame seeds); Steamed Halibut (10 oz Halibut filet with ginger, scallions, and cilantro); and Whiskey Lamb Ribs – quite the specialty!
Pair any of these outstanding selections with the Tozai “Living Jewel” sake from Junmai, Japan to truly impress your guests! Ever tried sparkling sake? We hadn’t either, but we will again! Take some time to enjoy the crisp and bubbly Hou Hou Shu “Sparking Sake” from Okayama, Japan before you embark to your next stop – or you’ll regret it.
All of this food made us super hungry, so the next morning we decided to check out Cedars Cafe for breakfast. Because isn’t that what you do? Come on, don’t judge. Those of us who were not going for spa treatments after breakfast chose dishes like eggs, bacon, country potatoes, and pancakes. The spa-goers decided on lighter fare – oatmeal with all the fixings, cereal, fruit, and such.
Speaking of That Spa…
A visit to Tulalip is never complete unless a visit to the T-Spa is in order. We made sure to visit the fitness facilities beforehand so that we could do a little cardio and feel a bit lighter before our spa treatments. Hey, every little bit helps, right? Indulge now, work out later. A quick check-in at the T-Spa front desk and we were on our way to glowing glory! By the way, guests of the resort have access to the eucalyptus steam room, showers, water bottles, and towels in the spa and fitness area.
I walked into my T-Spa appointment with the goal of fully embracing the spa’s state-of-the-art Lavender Dreams Package – and what a dream it was, too! I was immediately impressed by the decor, style and arrangement of the suite. My massage therapist was reliably punctual. My room was ready upon my arrival and I never felt rushed during any part of the process. There was a bath to start wherein I could select the essential oil I most felt called to utilize during the session. Although I walked in anticipating use of the lavender essential oil, I was more drawn to the juniper oil and requested that instead. The massage therapist changed it up without hesitation. With that, she left the room and I relaxed in peace on a sea of juniper for what felt like a long time, but was in reality approximately 20-30 minutes.
I toweled off and positioned myself on the massage table for the next part of my visit. The massage itself felt shorter than I had hoped, but that’s most likely because I was so relaxed I didn’t want it to end. It was truly a joy to be able to soak and then rest on the table mere feet away in the same room.
After my soak and massage, it was time to have a pedicure in a nearby room. I sat down in the lobby area and waited to be called for my next appointment. The pedicure was probably the best I’ve ever had and I’m not exaggerating. The room was quiet and real rose petals floated around the tub as I sat back and breathed in my surroundings. It was pure relaxation and I highly recommend it to anyone interested.
It’s pretty simple: if you’re aiming to find a staycation locale that is both invigorating and relaxing within a reasonable distance from Seattle, Tulalip Resort Casino should be on the list. There’s a pool area if you bring kids, family and/or friends; multiple award-winning restaurants at your fingertips; entertainment playing regularly; a spa and fitness center suited for pure decadence; a suite that meets your every need; and a casino to press your luck right on the main floor. We will return.