The Islander

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Photo credit: The Islander

When one of the owners decided to retire and the property it sat on was slated for demolition, it seemed like The Islander, some six decades old (in one form or another), might have met its final iteration. But Scott McManus, who’s been the chef there since 2007, ended up finding a way to make The Islander live on.

McManus once worked in the kitchen of Seattle’s famous Canlis, but The Islander puts his pedigree to work in different ways – he aims to keep The Islander as a family-friendly, affordable on-island place for people to eat. Offering an enormous menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as bar specials in the expanded space that opened in 2013, The Islander tries to be a little of everything to everyone.

Restaurant space in front | Photo credit: The Islander

But it works as the kind of public house that he imagines it: the bar area is dark, with sports running and the bottle-lined shelves as the focus. In the main restaurant area at the front, the walls are boisterous, bright, and welcoming; customers settle into unadorned, practical tables and comfy booths.

The food is both affordable and varied. Breakfast and lunch offer standard scrambles and sandwiches, but dinner, though anchored by classics like beef stroganoff, also stretches toward the higher-end, with prime rib specials on Fridays and seafood every day. In fact, that seafood is the highlight of the menu – whether the hearty, thick clam chowder at lunch, an afternoon dish of crab and shrimp Louie on the patio, or the local Northwest king salmon from the grill.

Bar space in back | Photo credit: The Islander

But even among all those, most entrees cost less than $20 and nothing tops out over $26. Combined with daily deals – like when kids eat free on Sundays – The Islander manages to be a jack of all trades while still mastering most of them.

The Islander is located at 2411 76th Ave SE, Mercer Island, WA. Learn more at www.the-islander.com.

Written by Naomi Tomky