Restaurant News & Reviews

Keenan’s autumn menu evokes harvest time in the Northwest

Executive Chef Eric Johnson is shown in the dining room of Keenan’s at the Pier restaurant in the Chrysalis Inn.
Executive Chef Eric Johnson is shown in the dining room of Keenan’s at the Pier restaurant in the Chrysalis Inn.

With the change of seasons, local restaurants are shifting their menus to reflect the fall harvest – especially those such as Keenan’s at the Pier that emphasize Northwest ingredients.

“For me, in the fall, it’s squash-heavy, ” said Eric Johnson, executive chef at the “casual yet elegant” restaurant inside the Chrysalis Inn at 804 10th St.

He said diners will see menu items such as smoked pumpkin Hollandaise sauce on a croque monsieur, Squash and Quinoa Salad with roasted pear on butter lettuce and kabocha salsa on a filet mignon from Misty Isle Farms of Vashon Island.

“We’re using our Northwest ingredients and we are interpreting it in our own way,’’ Johnson said.

Seasonal items will be featured on special dishes across the restaurant’s breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, remaining faithful to Keenan’s “flavor profile,” Johnson said.

Autumn evokes hues of red, yellow, brown and orange, and “we try to put some of those colors on the plate,” said Johnson, who’s been at Keenan’s for five years, dating to when the restaurant was known as Fino.

Johnson trained at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Seattle, which is affiliated with the renowned Paris institute.

Keenan’s new fall menu, which debuts Saturday, Oct. 15, will offer a seasonal twist on several standard menu items, including the signature pork chop from Jack Mountain Meats in Burlington, known for its heritage breeds and non-GMO practices.

In a recent interview, Johnson suggested five items from the upcoming menu that he thinks are of particular interest:

Scarlet French Toast

This take on a classic breakfast features French bread from Avenue Bread in Bellingham topped with roasted pears, an apple cider glaze and candied walnuts.

Fall Harvest Pancakes

White chocolate mousse, pumpkin compote and maple syrup send a breakfast standby into the stratosphere.

Grilled Pear Sandwich

“Grilling pears is something I’ve always loved to do,” Johnson said. “You get the deep caramelization and it combines into this flavor that’s really unique.” This complex mix of tastes adds caramelized onions, mixed greens, a balsamic reduction and an orange-sundried tomato aioli on Avenue Bread sourdough.

Jack Mountain Pork Chop

One of Johnson’s signature dishes gets the autumn treatment with a wild rice pilaf, a vegetable such as Brussels sprouts, pickled fennel and apple relish, and an apple cider gastrique. Johnson said Keenan’s makes its own pickled dishes. “It’s one of the most ancient forms of preservation,” he said. “That’s a flavor that we like to use in winter” to add depth.

Ginger Glazed Carrots

This vegetarian dish is complete with pomegranate quinoa, sautéed greens and crispy Brussels sprouts leaves.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-715-2805,, @bhamMitty