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'Elegant' vegetarian restaurant opens in Freeland
"Owner James Patterson, left, and chef Eric Olson will welcome their first dinner clients at Blueberry Jazz tonight.Jim Larsen / staff photoIt's meat free. Alcohol free. Smoke free. And it opens tonight.Blueberry Jazz in Freeland is the newest inhabitant at a hilltop building in Freeland that has seen several incarnations through the years, going back to Das Lamm and followed by Blueberry Hill. But people who enjoy dining at the the little eatery overlooking Holmes Harbor have never seen anything like the Blueberry Jazz menu.The building is now owned by James and Caroline Patterson, who spent several years bringing it up to code and otherwise preparing for the opening of a longtime dream. They recruited a well-known island chef, Eric Olson, to head the kitchen and create a tantalizing meatless menu, and the wait staff includes Sybil Ward, who is well known for her past work at Mike's Place and the Bush Point Restaurant.Even the dinner rolls will be healthy. The dairy-free delights will be baked by Debbie Lambert, a regular in recent years at the South Whidbey Farmers Market. She will also operate the bakery in the building's lower level which will be opening soon.Blueberry Jazz isn't offering lunch right away, but the wait won't be long. Plans are to serve the first lunch on April 25.James Patterson said patrons at his restaurant can expect an elegant experience as they dine on vegeterian gourmet cuisine, perhaps with a bottle of good alcohol-free wine. The multi-course meals are carefully prepared by Chef Olson, and substituting won't be encouraged. The whole thing is orchestrated for an experience, Patterson said.The word elegant pops up frequently during Patterson's enthusiastic description of his restaurant. There will be no dress code, but it's the place for celebrations of various kinds, he said.Olson built his menu around six basic multi-course choices with a special each night.Eric is a genius when it comes to sauces, Patterson said.One of the choices will be crabcake with spicy ginger plum sauce. Of course, it won't be real crab. We'll use Tuno, a textured vegetable protein, Olson said.Olson and Patterson agree that while the food is vegetarian, that philosophy won't be emphasized. The food is supposed to taste superb, with the lack of meat being a secondary consideration.I want to get rid of the stigma of vegetarian, said Olson. He has 20 years' experience, including cooking at Mike's Place and then operating his own Eric's Hideaway in Freeland. Most recently, he was at Anthony's Home Port.Olson said he had never cooked purely vegeterian until he joined forces with Patterson. I've done it all, and I wanted a challenge, Olson said.Olson said dining at Blueberry Jazz will be a pleasant experience. Come in and kick back and relax, he said. It's a nice place to go. "