On the way down to Bay Street from State Route 16, I made an unexpected discovery about Port Orchard.
Convenience stores. The bank. Even the feed store. They all come with fetching, million-dollar waterfront views.Port Orchard’s proximity to Sinclair Inlet made it an ideal waterside timber town, and it was the first Kitsap County city to incorporate in 1890.
And its current life still is rooted in its working waterfront.
Much of Bay Street’s businesses surround an active marina – with guest moorage – and in the middle of the business district is a foot ferry that shuttles explorers between Port Orchard and Bremerton.
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New attractions along Bay Street make this town a quick half-day trip for eaters in search of a food adventure.The newly opened Port Orchard Public Market was my first stop on a recent visit, followed by a handful of restaurants recommended by the locals.
Port Orchard Public Market
715 Bay St., Port Orchard
A few years in the making, Port Orchard Public Market opened in May in a renovated (and previously vacant) 8,000-square-foot building. The indoor, year-round market is open daily and the majority of the inaugural businesses are food focused, with an emphasis on Northwest products and ingredients. There’s a butcher, a seafood company, a mercantile with fresh produce and honey, a Port Orchard candy maker, and a few eateries.
Carter’s Chocolates and Ice CreamContact: 360-602-0703 or carterschocolates.com
Pastry chef Matt Carter began his hand-made chocolate business in 2008, moving a handful of times before settling into the Port Orchard Public Market last month. As if that weren’t enough, he simultaneously opened a companion chocolate business this month at the West Bay Shopping Center (next door to Slaughter County Brewery).When visiting either of Carter’s Bay Street locations, find hand-dipped chocolate truffles, handmade caramels and ice cream. His candies are best described as artisan in form and flavor – as beautiful as they are delicious.His ice cream is more adventurous, with flavors such as gorgonzola (not as weird as you’d expect), maple bacon (a breakfast match that works well for ice cream) and orange chocolate chip (the must-order scoop on my trip). A big scoop will run you $2.75, sundaes start at $4.50. Chocolates are priced $2 each for single pieces, with discounts for buying in multiples.
Bay Street Meat Co.Contact: 800-501-8753 or baystreetmeat.comIf you call Brian Brozovic anything, make it “meat scientist.” The South Sound butcher has worked at outfits large and small, managing butcher cases and working at gourmet food companies supplying high-end restaurants with meat.He’s co-owner of Bay Street Meat Company with Paul DeMoret and Don Ryan, the developer who worked to open the public market.Bay Street Meat Company stocks a full butcher case with Northwest-raised beef, lamb, pork and chicken – but the meat counter also is a destination for charcuterie, cheese and other artisan products from Northwest farms.Don’t miss its house-made smoked sausages or the smoked pepperoni from Olympia, German salami from Seattle, and cheese curds from Seattle’s Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.
Northwest Seafood and WineContact: 360-443-6012 or facebook.com/northwestseafoodandwineLook up toward the ceiling when entering Northwest Seafood and Wine to find repurposed shells forming something of a conversation starter: oyster chandeliers. The cubby hole vendor features seafood harvested from waters ranging from South Sound to Alaska. My visit yielded net bags full of oysters retrieved that morning in Dabob, Copper River salmon flown down from Alaska, fresh halibut and rock fish. A helpful counter worker offered to pack seafood in an ice carrier to preserve my catch. A corner of the business is dedicated to Northwest wines and a broad selection of Finn River ciders, and is the site of frequent wine tastings.
Central DockContact: 360-602-0275 or facebook.com/CentralDock
Central Dock is one of Port Orchard’s newest restaurants, and like most businesses in the Port Orchard Public Market, it has a focus on Northwest ingredients in its sandwiches and burgers and an all-Peninsula tap list featuring 7 Seas, Sound, Silver City, Valholl and Slaughter County breweries.Diners can order at the counter and find a seat in the adjacent roped off area full of high-top tables, or dine nearby at lower tables open to diners of all ages.If there’s one thing to get at Central Dock, it’s the excellent 3B burger, a blend of grass-fed beef, buffalo and bacon (ground for the restaurant by nearby Bay Street Meat Co.), priced around $12, with a side of coleslaw or pasta salad. Another must-order was a cream-based clam chowder, heavy on bacon and clams. I was a fan.
Taqueria Las Torres 2Find serviceable tacos (about $1.60 each) and a short menu of taqueria eats at this modestly priced walk-up taqueria with adjacent seating and a fresh salsa bar.
Other businesses to explore in the market: Sue’s Lavender stocked vegetable starts as well as ready-made lavender items ranging from soaps to lotions to sachets. Head to the back of the building to the Mercantile to pick up fresh produce, honey from Port Orchard, and even dress-up clothing for little girls. Vendors occasionally set up on weekends selling different items in the public area of the building.
Stops along Port Orchard’s Bay Street
But wait, there's more.A handful of food businesses worth a stop on Bay Street include a candy store with terrific fudge, cinnamon rolls as big as your head, and a brewery with an awe-inspiring view.
Cafe Gabrielle707 Bay St.; 360-602-0245 or facebook.com/CafeGabrielleHere you’ll find a bakery case filled with freshly made breads, croissants and a variety of pastries, but what diners should put on the list of things to try are the house-baked cookies ($1.50) and gigantic cinnamon rolls ($3.75). Tacomans will recognize the cinnamon rolls – they’re the buttercream-topped creations of Peggy Waldherr, who owned Peggy’s Cinnamon Rolls in Freighthouse Square from 1987 to 2007. Waldherr’s friend Gabrielle Freeland pulled Waldherr out of baking retirement to make the rolls. Find coffee, a lunch menu, and plenty of seating at this bakery-cafe.
The Candy Shoppe833 Bay St., 360-874-2576 or thecandyshoppellc.comSandy and Steve Charbonneau started their charming candy shop as not only a throwback store featuring candies of yesteryear, but also as a fudge store offering more than three dozen kinds made by hand at the store. The I-can’t-decide-it’s-so-big selection covers broad fudge territory with chocolates both dark and milk; peanut butter; mint chocolate; caramel and other decadent swirls of flavors. Also find lighter flavors, such as key lime, creamsicle, maple pecan, rocky road and brown sugar fudge – as well as sugar-free fudges on the bottom shelf. Fudge is sold for $15.99 a pound.
Slaughter County Brewery1307 Bay St.; 360-329-2340 or slaughtercountybrewing.comThis sprawling pirate-themed brewpub has a daily-changing tap list and is a fine destination for beer and sandwiches in a location with a splendid view of the waterfront. Craft beer enthusiasts could even design their own brewery tour with these breweries around the Peninsula: Sound, Silver City, Valholl and 7 Seas.
Cocktails and fine dining: For diners 21 and older, find fine dining at Bay Street Bistro (834 Bay St.; 360-602-0310), and the One-Ten Lounge and Martini Bar (110 Harrison Ave.; 360-895-3079), open only for dinner and martinis.
[caption id="attachment_15409" align="aligncenter" width="480"] An observation deck is near Kitsap Bank along the Port Orchard waterfront. Climb the stairs for a great view of the waterfront. Dean Koepfler/Staff photographer[/caption]
Other points of interestFarmers Market
Behind Peninsula Feed at Bay Street and Harrison Avenue; 360-602-1022Held every Saturday through Oct. 11, the waterfront market assembles farmers and food purveyors. Find vendors from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Foot ferryCatch the foot ferry just off the Port Orchard Ferry dock near the library on Sidney Avenue. The $2 fare pays for a trip to Bremerton. Port Orchard departures are at the top and bottom of the hour; Bremerton departures are at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour. Ferry operating hours vary, but typically run 4:30 a.m.-8:45 p.m. weekdays with extended hours to 10:15 p.m. on weekends. Check Kitsap Transit and city of Port Orchard for more information.
Water views for freeThe best Bay Street view along the waterfront costs nothing other than a stroll.First, head to Kitsap Bank at 619 Bay St. At the rear of the building, find a two-seater bench ideal for sitting and savoring the town’s working waterfront.Dozens of steps away, find an ivy-wrapped staircase leading up to an observation tower for views of the old timber town adjacent to Sinclair Inlet.
Summer eventsFree concerts are offered at 6:30 p.m. every Thursday from June to August on the waterfront as part of the Concerts by the Bay series. The Fathoms of Fun grand parade is June 28 and a craft and vendor fair is June 27-29. Food writer and critic Sue Kidd dines anonymously and The News Tribune pays for all meals.