Chef Willem Paul Klitsie brings a breath of fresh air to downtown Vancouver, WA with Willem's on Main. This small restaurant turns out beautiful European-inspired locally-sourced seasonal plates packed with flavor and creative enough to make foodies swoon. Even better, the restaurant is open for lunch Monday - Saturday and dinner every night.
It's hard not to spot the Chef Paul as he towers somewhere north of six and half feet tall. A native of the Netherlands, he first satisfied customers with his Fratelli's restaurant in Portland's Pearl District.
Willem's on Main opened in November, 2013. It is located at 907 Main St., and the narrow doorway can be hard to spot. The space is small, with tables for two and four on the ground floor and balcony. Some of the tables are made of slices of wood in the original tree stump shape, with seating provided with scavenged theater seating. Other tables have more modern seating.
I enjoyed lunch three times at Willem's on Main with friends and solo, tasting my way through most of the lunch menu. It is split into four choices for Cold Bits, two for In Between Bits, and four for Warm Bits. The menu will change seasonally as the chef creates dishes with the best local ingredients. Freshly baked bread is provided, with oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. They have an excellent curated wine list, and a wine preservation system that allows them to offer selections by the glass.
On our first outing, my anti-beet dining companions were leery of the beets with herbed goat cheese, salami and honey. They became beet converts immediately, and ordered them again on our next visit. I didn't let them taste my bruschetta with roasted New York Strip, truffle cheese and mascarpone, I hoarded it all to myself. It's a steal at only $4.
I enjoyed the soft polenta with house-made sausage patty, but it didn't compare with the other Warm Bits. The frittata with spinach, Nuesky bacon, potato and Grada Padano cheese was delicious. But the star that had me coming back was the amazing burger. I didn't know what a burger could be before this one. The mordatella cheese and the smoked tomato are inspired. This is one burger where you savor every bite.
We also enjoyed the desserts on our second visit. They are creative, and I give good grades to the panettone bread pudding. The gelato selections were very interesting designer flavors, and the tiramisu was a modern take on the classic.
I look forward to stopping by after work for a glass of wine and bruschetta, or for their dinner menu. Entrees for dinner include locally-sourced Draper Valley chicken and Mt. Shadow Meats beef and pork.
Willem's is offering a Valentine's Day menu for $45 per person with two choices for starters and entrees. Call for reservations 360.258.0989.