Lifestyle

La Boucherie brings Sea Breeze Farm’s field-fresh wares to the plate

George Page, behind counter, weighs a whole chicken for customer Murray Andrews at La Boucherie. - Amelia Heagerty/staff photo
George Page, behind counter, weighs a whole chicken for customer Murray Andrews at La Boucherie.
— image credit: Amelia Heagerty/staff photo

Sea Breeze Farm’s full-service shop in town, an unusual blend of retail, dining and butchery, houses gleaming display cases packed with cuts of meat, rows of poultry with feet in the air and homemade cheese and butter.

During lunch and dinner, these and other Sea Breeze products become the basis for full meals — the cuisine of the Island’s newest, and most locally minded, restaurant, La Boucherie.

Most of the items on the menu at the snug shop come from less than 10 miles away. If Sea Breeze is unable to provide an ingredient from its Island pastures, a local and organic farmer is called on to provide the missing element.

Since its inception eight years ago, Sea Breeze Farm has filled a niche on Vashon, producing farm-fresh meat, dairy and eggs that go “beyond organic” and sell out week after week.

Opening a retail market and restaurant on Vashon in August was a natural progression for the north-end operation, said Sea Breeze owner George Page, 39.

La Boucherie, or butcher shop in French, occupies the building on S.W. 100th Street that once housed Splash.

Today, the store provides sit-down dining, diverse foodstuffs and a full-service butcher shop, all showcasing the products that Sea Breeze is known for.

Six tables and a six-person bar nestle within the tiny shop, and five days a week, Islanders can sample Sea Breeze’s panoply of high-end products, prepared by the restaurant’s two chefs.

Sea Breeze Farm’s roots can be traced to the Page family’s move from Seattle to Vashon, when Page first acquired chickens and a cow at their north-end property for his family.

When the animals’ production became too much for Page, his wife Kristin and their young daughter Adela, he gave eggs and milk to neighbors.

Demand for his edibles soon outstripped supply, and Page expanded, becoming a booming family farm with sheep, pigs, ducks and several farm workers.

Farming was a far cry from Page’s prior employment as a software engineer for a medical device company.

“It was too synthetic and unorganic in that setting, sitting in a cubicle,” he said. “I longed for something more organic, something connected to food and the earth and growing. My passion was for cooking and creating and growing and creating the best quality foods I could.”

Page’s passion for food and its production guided his farm principles with the first chickens and cows, he said.

His philosophy then, and to this day, is to produce food products that go “beyond organic,” from grass-fed animals that are treated humanely and live outdoors in pastures year-round.

“Organic is great, but it’s not good enough,” he said. “We make sure the way that we’re raising our animals exceeds organic standards.”

Sea Breeze animals eat little hay or grain and are moved “almost daily” from pasture to pasture to maximize their food foraging opportunities, he said.

“The quality — the eggs, the milk, the meat — that comes from that rich foraging is just not comparable to other grain-fed models” of food production, Page said. “It’s for the health of our animals, pastures and customers. I believe the way we are producing our product is better for the health of our customers than organic.”

No matter how much the operation expands, demand seems to keep up, he said. Today, Sea Breeze owns, leases or manages more than 70 acres on Vashon.

“We have a weekly cycle on everything we produce, and by Sunday night it’s all gone,” he said. “We start all over again on Monday.”

He said he’d always hoped to go “full circle” with his operation, from the farm to the table.

The Island’s only certified farm slaughter and custom meat operation, Sea Breeze Farm is active in food production at many different phases — raising animals, milking cows, harvesting eggs, making cheese and butter, slaughtering livestock, curing and smoking meats — and now, serving meals at La Boucherie.

Pastas served on La Boucherie’s menu are handmade in its kitchen. Sea Breeze employees make ketchup, mayonnaise, sauces, pickles, preserves, canned tomatoes and canned peppers; they mill wheat, roast coffee and make wine, Page said.

La Boucherie “is an opportunity to showcase all of our amazing ingredients in a restaurant setting, which has always been a dream of mine — to take things all the way from the field to the plate, serving it to the people,” he said. “The meals feature our best creativity and the best we have available at that time.”

Diners can purchase appetizers, salads and entrées individually, but Page recommended La Boucherie’s five-course tasting menu.

“All the items are designed to go with at least one other item,” he said.

The five-plate meal takes about 90 minutes, he said, and the menu varies day-to-day, even table to table, because of availability.

Chefs Telly Christanis and Kyrin Heiter put together meals using whatever is freshest each day. When items, such as tomatoes, are out of season, so too is the restaurant’s BLT sandwich, which gained a following in the past few months.

“Sometimes, it’s a matter of seeing what’s available, but that’s what keeps it fresh,” Heiter said. “The produce we are cooking with is the best — the best milk, the best cream, the best butter I’ve ever seen. So to be able to cook with that, I love it.”

Christanis outlined a five-course meal he may have served one recent night.

The first course is a small plate called “amuse bouche,” or taste tickler, and “it’s supposed to get your glands going,” said Christanis.

An onion confit with onion-and-grape crostini may have appeared on a table that night, he said, followed by soup — onion and potato.

Linguini with chanterelles, sage and farm butter comes next, then braised lamb’s neck with fingerling potatoes and onions roasted with salt, pepper and oil.

To top the meal off, Christanis said, would be “revana,” a traditional Greek dessert — “a semolina cake which is soaked with syrup.”

The five-course meal costs $45 per person, or $65 for a couple. Those who’d like to wine and dine will find, for an additional charge, each course accompanied by a glass from Sea Breeze’s own Sweetbread Cellars and perhaps from a local featured winery.

“I do it the way I do because I love it, and I believe it should be done the way I do it,” Page said.

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La Boucherie’s grand opening

From 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, La Boucherie will open its doors for wine tasting and appetizers prepared by the restaurant’s chefs.

The retail store is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. It is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and from 4:30 to 9 p.m. for dinner, Tuesday through Saturday. Call 567-GOAT for more information.

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