After one flying visit to Walla Walla. Here are some impressions to add to those above, about the second most important thing, the food. 1) Best At What It Tries To Do: Colville Street Patisserie. Flaky cheese and jambon croissant. Crumbly Indian turnover. Sweet and chocolately éclair. All fine examples of their craft and good latté too! One downside: They don’t open until 9am, which rules them out as a breakfast destination many days. 2) Best Restaurant: Saffron. Almost missed it. Unanimous choice of the crowd round the tasting table at the last winery I visited when I asked “Where should one eat on a Sunday night in Walla Walla?” Tough to get a reservation too. It was hopping. Flatbreads (esp. Guanciale) are must tries. These could be a “Beyond Pizza” category nationally. Patatas Bravas is the old Spanish tapas favorite but well executed. I wonder what type of potatoes work best for these? Textural contrast ‘twixt skin and interior is key. Grilled quail was succulent and tasty. Our waiter was bubbling with enthusiasm and friendliness. He knew a lot about the menu and the wine list but, when probed with some fairly detailed wine questions, had the sense to ask and even bring back trade fact sheets on the wines. Best service on the trip. I was surprised to find somewhere so cutting edge in a town so remote but apparently the chef trained at the French Culinary Institute in a NY and then became Todd English’s point man to open new restaurants. That must make rural Washington a breeze no matter the number of Wallas. One downside: Not enough wines by the glass. 3) Best Wine List: Brasserie Four. Not just because it is accurate to use that common phrase well chosen but because of the depth. That is, the number of well-aged wines to be found. For example, we had a 2004 Loire made of Chenin Blanc. That’s almost old enough to be a risk and it was oily. But I liked it. 4) Best Restaurant Décor: The Marcat the Marcus Whitman Hotel. The dark wood and deep banquettes won’t be first choice with the aging hippies but this was the dining room that had the most work put into it. Some other comments: Our second favorite restaurant was Brasserie Four. It is a truly authentic French bistro. It was nice to have bouillabaisse again, although this one was too moule-centric. We liked sitting on the patio and I wonder, are all those hard walls inside tough on the ears? The Marc, despite the impressive installation, was just too pedestrian a menu to excite me. The most adventurous thing was buffalo tenderloin and that was very good. I consider, rightly or wrongly, Washington to be at the center of the wild salmon catch. This led to high expectations and deep disappointment with the Columbia King Salmon. It was dry and relatively tasteless. Also, for a restaurant this expensive the service should be superior. However, our waitress engaged us about as much as argon gas engages anything, and at times was as hard to find. Finally, the first most important thing about Walla Walla is the wine. This is a wine town. In fact, it is the best kept secret wine town in the USA. This is the first airport that I have been to that had more wineries than departure gates. And 120 wineries in a county of 60,000 people is incredible. At the moment, the wine scene is still mainly at the level of ‘meet the winemaker’ although there are signs of ‘Napaization’. However, this trend can likely never run to completion due to the sheer remoteness of Walla Walla from major cities. Let’s hope all the start ups continue bidding up the quality of the wine. I was impressed with Five Star Cellars ‘Stellar’ and Ensemble Cellars intriguing multi-vintage homage to Château Margaux (both of these wineries are at the airport), Sleight of Hand Cellars and Saviah Cellars (thanks to the couple tasting at Charles Smith who recommended these two). Charles Smith was good too, but was not a new find to me. Forgeron Cellars also had some well-made Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. One general impression came over very clearly: This is a red wine AVA. There were many excellent reds but no impressive whites. Despite trying Chardonnay, Viognier, Roussanne blends, Muscat blends, etc. they only reached the level of average. I could think of lots of comparables from elsewhere that were better. An interesting wine area and lots more to discover on the next trip.