Destination Dining: Vashon Island’s Bramble House

Top Chef contestant Lia Lira returns home with a “modern American” restaurant that fuses global influences with island rusticity.

By Ramona DeNies July 6, 2016

True, one-of-a-kind destination restaurants—we're talking places that require a couple hours' drive and maybe a ferry ride—can be the centerpiece of a whole summer vacation. Think of the Willows Inn on Lummi Island, or Napa’s French Laundry.

We’re betting that Bramble House, just three hours north of Portland on sleepy Vashon Island in South Puget Sound, is about to make that list.

Open since June 1, chef-owner Lia Lira’s “modern American” eatery occupies a renovated cottage (a former consignment shop) on Vashon’s main drag. The strawberry-red door hints at juicy interior details: white subway tile framing the fireplace, heavy, copper-handled flatware, vintage china sourced from island thrift store Granny’s Attic.


Tasting and testing @ #bramblevashon. Sweet pea soup, shrimp and pea tortellini, shrimp oil and chives

A photo posted by Bramble House Vashon (@bramblevashon) on

Oh, and the food: sweet pea soup, brandied peach financier, smoked black cod hash with jalapeño, and perfectly tuned mains (including a sublime skirt steak) accented by sorrel, sumac, and mustard greens. Vashon native Lira—a former Top Chef contestant and executive sous chef for none other than legendary Jean-Georges Vongerichten at his eponymous Michelin stronghold—returned home last year with an aim to infuse the island’s farm-fresh largesse with flavors and techniques culled from years of global experience.

“Jean-Georges is Alsatian but spent a lot of his formative years in Asia,” says Lira. “I spent a lot of time with him and that influenced my cooking. I’ve traveled the world; Istanbul, Singapore, outdoor food stalls in Mexico, international fish markets.”

For Lira, this education is the essence of new modern American cuisine—a melting pot of culinary influences that reflects, in the most delicious way, the nation’s evolving population. As an example of what diners can expect, Lira points to a recent entrée: responsibly-caught King salmon with Oregon sea beans, yuzukosho, and a miso emulsion.

“The dish is not at all in the Japanese style, but it uses those flavors to introduce and highlight some great local ones,” Lira says. “For me, the name 'modern American' allows for a lot of flexibility.”

Bramble House offers dinner service Wednesday–Sunday, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday. 17123 Vashon Hwy SW, Vashon, WA

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