Mackinaw’s Restaurant is located in the
heart of historic downtown Chehalis. It’s a quaint little room inside the old hotel, with original brick-and-mortar walls and wood floors complementing classic Northwest décor.
Laurel Khan opened the doors just over seven years ago because, she says, “I found that as a woman I was always asked to make the salad, or craft the dessert. But to move into main courses I had to open my own restaurant.”
Khan has a talent for cooking meat and inventing courses. Mackinaw’s has a new menu every day, with locally sourced fresh food whenever possible, and sauces and dressings made in house.
My date and I started with homemade fondue and a bottle of Italian red. For the fondue, the cheese is shredded into warm beer, seasoned with Worcestershire, ground mustard and garlic, and cooked until it “feels right.” The fondue is served with crusted bread, apples and sausage.
The real treat is dinner itself. My date and I shared two. One was the spare ribs with orange bourbon sauce, scalloped potatoes, and roasted Brussels sprouts. The potatoes are one of those special creations. Infused with thyme cream, they are uniquely peppery and light.
Our favorite dinner was Khan’s signature dish of “deconstructed” ravioli with chicken, a savory creamy concoction that melted in the mouth. Noodles line the bottom of the bowl, and cream sauce is added with lumps of ricotta, chicken and seasonal vegetables. She makes the sauce every two days, uses a full bottle of sweet Riesling (her favorite is Snoqualmie) and lets it simmer for almost two hours. Superior!
The evening ended down the hall in “The Man Cave,” Khan’s tiny bar with couch and television, where we finished our wine so blissfully full we could barely make conversation. Khan joined us and talked about her goal of creating million-dollar food and service in what she called “her neighborhood.” Patrons chimed in, all part of her extended family, to sing her praises and tell us their favorites.
When you visit, make sure you come hungry. Consider making a day of it and check out the antique shops, Mt. St. Helens tourist spots or even the Chehalis Steam Train before you stop at Mackinaw’s for a meal. It’s well worth the trip.