Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What's in a name?

Yesterday, a woman came up our stairs to more or less tell us that our name is wrong, and that a proper Italian restaurant would call it's self Primo Bistro and that Prima Bistro doesn't roll off the tongue.  And on and on.  She was actually quite worked up, maybe even a little bit frenzied.  So, well, first, we aren't an Italian restaurant.  Second, umm, Merry Christmas to you too?  Thanks to Latda and her amazing smile and laugh it just kind of went away without much more than a blink of an eye and in typical Latda style she got the standard, "wow, you handled that horrible person so well" from a nearby customer.

While weird and annoying, this interaction did however make me think about our name and thought others might be interested in why we chose this name.  We are housed in the historic Primavera building in Langley.  "Prima" first is a nod to the roots of this building and the Primavera family.  Second, Sieb is Dutch, and in Dutch the word means excellent/great/very well/first rate.  And in all languages that I can think of, Prima or a derivitive of it, has a positive meaning.  The beginnings of this restaurant were a wild time and we had to pull a business plan out of the blue in mere days so that we could secure funding.  Coming up with a name was one of the most bumpy spots during that time.  Some of our first ideas were First Street Bistro, Bistro 201, Brisa, and Brisa Marina.  Our daughter was 2 at the time and the thought of naming the restaurant "Netty's" did cross our minds, but that wasn't the type of restaurant we were going for...I see that as a cute little breakfast spot, something like Sweet Laurette's in Port Townsend.   Our company name is Lekker, the Dutch word for yummy, and if we could've, that would've been the restaurant name because to hear the Dutch say that word is a wonderful thing.  However, it sounds like leper to Americans, and that just isn't really very appetizing.

Prima came to me and at the time it just seemed perfect.  I vividly remember us saying, "yup, that's it" and hitting print on the business plan.  I really liked the idea of shortening the Primavera name but interestingly, no one gets it.  I didn't consider at the time that it really does sound like an Italian restaurant by name alone, and we still do get the, "why don't you have more pasta on your menu...this is an Italian restaurant right?" question.  In the beginning, customers and even a number of our employees insisted on calling it Primo (so yeah lady, I guess it does roll of the tongue easier), but it seems that trend has faded.  Most locals called the previous restaurant, The Star Bistro, simply The Bistro, and that has pretty much stuck with many of our regulars.  I like that.  However I cringe when it's called The Prima...that sounds very pretentious to me and it doesn't really make any sense.

So anyhow, there you go.  That's how we came to be named Prima Bistro.  Honestly, I do think that I'd like a different name better and I think about it often, but 8 years later, I have yet to come up with what that would be.  And in case that lady from yesterday is reading this, I say to you, simmer down.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Winter newsletter

 Unbelievable that Thanksgiving is next week!  Where has this year gone?  So much to be thankful for and so much to tell you about...

We were recently mentioned in a Seattle Weekly story.  This mushroom season has been the best we've ever seen...Sieb picks upwards of 30 pounds on a regular's pretty amazing out there.  Our brother in law, Shane Ryan, chef at the amazing Matt's in the Market brought food writer Nicole Sprinkle to the island to go foraging, they ate at Prima and she wrote a great story:

 Thanks to all of you who voted in the King 5 Best of Western Washington competition.  We came in 3rd in the category of best outdoor dining and are thrilled with the results...thank you!!!  Whidbey Island represented very well...Whidbey Island Winery, Sweet Mona's, Stadler Studios, Whidbey Life Magazine and others placed in the top 5 of their categories and awesome Pickles Deli got best sandwich shop...awesome job everyone!!!

Jessica VanWetter, scholarship recipient
beautiful Natanya
Little Taste of Heaven.  Just over 2 years ago our friend and pastry chef Natanya Johnson passed away from complications of Type 1 diabetes.  We created a scholarship in her name, the Red Spatula Award, to send a South Whidbey girl to culinary school.  We recently awarded the first recipient, Jessica VanWetter with this honor and are so excited to help her further her culinary studies.  On December 6th, we will have the 2nd annual Little Taste of Heaven fundraiser for this scholarship fund.  Many local restaurants will be participating, each in their own way.  Here at Prima all of our dessert sales will go directly to the scholarship fund.  Our awesome new pastry chef, Heather Immoor will be baking up some amazing creations and Jessica will also be on deck with a version of Natanya's amazing meyer lemon tart. 

Donations to the scholarship fund are tax deductible.  If you are interested in contributing, checks can be made out to the South Whidbey School's Foundation and mailed to Prima Bistro PO Box 976, Langley, Wa 98260.  We are so proud that we are able to keep Natanya's dream alive in this way.

Holiday hours:
Closed Thanksgiving
Open Xmas eve Lunch
Closed Xmas eve dinner
Closed Xmas
Open and partying New Year's Eve and New Year's Day
Make your New Year's Eve reservations soon...we are filling up fast.  We've got the Tuzzie Muzzie hats on order and Danny Ward will be ringing in 2014 with us.

There's so much to do in Langley over the holidays...go to to see all we've go in store for you!  And be sure to explore the amazing opportunities offered at the Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio...amazing workshops and classes offered, operated by Cary Jurriaans, Sieb's mom!

Here's what's happening at Museo:
MUSEO¹s Holiday Gift Show continues with the gallery offering small,
favorably priced works, prints by Melissa Koch, and a group exhibition of
gallery artists.
New works will be added throughout the month.
There will be an artists' reception Saturday, December 7, from 5 to 7 pm.

To hear up to the minute updates from us please like us on facebook:
or follow us on twitter:!/primabistro

Don't forget: Mondays are restaurant industry day (20% off bill), every day is teacher discount day (10% off), and Thursdays are live music night!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season, and as always thank you for your patronage.  Hope to see you real soon!

Jenn and Sieb

Monday, November 18, 2013

The BEST foraging season EVER!

This mushroom season has been the best one we've ever seen.  The hauls Sieb comes in with daily are just out of this world.  Upwards of 30-40 pounds of chanterelles, or lobsters, matsutakes, and yellowfoots. And no, he isn't going to give up his spots to anyone!

We were recently visited by Seattle Weekly food writer, Nicole Sprinkle, who tagged along with our brother in law, Shane Ryan, chef of Seattle's acclaimed Matt's in the Market, to go foraging during this most amazing mushroom season.  Shane brought her up, did some mushroom hunting, then had lunch at Prima.  Here's a link to the whole article:

It's a pretty long story, so here's an excerpt that we particularly like:

..." Another call comes: Sieb confirms he’s still loading up on hedgehogs. “How can we not be finding them?” I ask Shane desperately.

“Ahh, he may just be a little deeper in than us.” We find a few chanterelles that aren’t rotten—golden,
with ridges (rather than gills) that run down the stem. At this point, I’ve filled an entire shopping bag with mushrooms, and it’s only been a little over an hour.

We make a few clumsy circles until we find our way back to the car. Next to the red Pathfinder is another hulking red vehicle with stickers of guns and skulls on the back: Sieb.

We drive to Langley to have lunch at Prima Bistro, Sieb’s unassuming French-inspired restaurant. Hidden atop a market and mercantile shop, it has imposing, wide-open views of the bay. We sit at the bar and order one of the best meals I’ve had in months: veal sweetbreads in an apricot gastrique and a dish of poached eggs with chunks of foraged lobster mushrooms, croutons, and pancetta that they smoke in their own tiny meat locker. The lobster mushrooms are meaty and have a very subtle seafood-like flavor—that fifth flavor that the Japanese call umami and which translates to “pleasant savory taste.” Shane has some wickedly good-looking bone marrow on toast.

While we’re sitting there shooting the shit, Sieb walks in. He’s tall, with long, dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, gold hoops in each ear, and tats all over his arm. He’s holding several bags of mushrooms, which he’ll be serving in the restaurant, of course. He sits down and orders us all glasses of Fernet Branca on ice—a clear indication I’m in the company of chefs.

Satiated by the meal and the mushroom extravaganza, Shane and I are quieter on our trip back. He tells me it’s his night off, and he’s going to prepare a matsutake salad for his wife when she gets home from work. Sliced super-thin, he adds. These mushrooms are too special to be cooked. I get mine home, wash them lightly with wet paper towels, and place them all over my kitchen counter. It’s pretty surreal-looking

-Nicole Sprinkle, Seattle Weekly

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


We will be closed October 14-17 to replace our kitchen floor.  This is a long overdue project and we are really excited for the outcome!  Our hope is that the project will take 3 days, but we are giving ourselves one extra day, and just in case, we are not taking any reservations through that weekend in case we hit some unforeseen road blocks.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Fall is definitely in the air, but with the weather today nearing 90 degrees, I'm dreaming of an Indian summer.  The deck is still open and we'll keep it that way as long as the weather permits!  What an amazing summer we had.  We fed 19,231 (no, that is not a typo!) people in July and August...that is just mind boggling to me.  Thank you to all of you who visited this summer, and more than anything, thank you to our amazing local, regular clientele, who put up with an amazing influx of people during those few months and had to wait sometimes up to 1.5 hours to get a table.  We so appreciate the business and the support!

It's Washington Cider Week!  Join us Thursday, the 12th through Sunday, the 15th for a flight of Snowdrift cider.  This flight will be available all day, each of those days for $15.  Along with sampling 5 of these awesome local ciders, we will be coming up with a few specials and suggestions that pair well with cider.  Snowdrift is a family run cidery in Wenatchee, and one of the owners lives right here in Langley.  He will be here from 5-7 on Friday evening to wander around and chat with people who want to chat about cider.  As always, we suggest making a reservation!
Don't miss out on the last weekend of Island Shakespeare Festival's Much Ado About Nothing, in the circus tent (amazing) behind the middle school.  The show is incredible, hilarious, fun, AND FREE!  Gates open at 4:15 and many shows have seen a full get there early, secure a seat, bring a picnic and have fun.  Show runs Fri, Sat, and Sun and this is the last weekend...don't miss out!

KING5 Best of Western WashingtonWe are thrilled to again be in the running for King 5's Best of Western Washington - in the outdoor dining category again!  We are currently number one, and would LOVE to stay in that spot.  We'd so appreciate it if you took the time to vote for us by clicking on the following link: 

DJANGOFEST 2013 is just around the corner.  Langley will be filled with music on street corners, restaurants, and actual concerts and workshops throughout town...visit the WICA website for all the details.   We will be hosting the Saturday night jam session...after the show we'll plan on staying open until 2:00 and serving a limited menu from 10 pm until at least midnight.

We are replacing the floor in our kitchen, but can't plan the dates of closing until the product has shipped.  So please be advised, we will be closed 2 or 3 days in October and will be posting it on facebook and twitter as well as on our website as soon as we know the dates.  Also, we are doing a huge revamp and expansion of our wine list...we are excited to hear your response.  And starting in a few weeks we are bringing in a pastry chef and baker...the ultimate goal is for all our breads to be baked in house and our pastry program revitalized. 

To hear up to the minute updates from us please like us on facebook:
or follow us on twitter:!/primabistro

Don't forget: Mondays are restaurant industry day (20% off bill), every day is teacher discount day (10% off), and Thursdays are live music night!

Make absolute sure you check out the Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio's website for very exciting destination workshops with amazing artists!

Also check out Museo during the month of September featuring the mixed media work of local artist Meredith MacLeod, and lampwork glass by Janis Miltenberger. 
The exhibit will run through September 29, 2013.

Thanks so much for your patronage and hope to see you real soon!

Jenn, Sieb, Rachel and Lucas
and all of the Prima crew!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Tuesday, August 20th lunch closure

Heads up! We will be closed this Tuesday, August 20th for lunch only for VERY NEEDED maintenance projects. Opening at 5:00 for dinner service. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Georgetown Brewing Beer Dinner...Sold Out!

We will be closing on Monday, July 29th, at 2:00 for our annual and SOLD OUT beer dinner with Georgetown Brewing.  We apologize for any inconvenience. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer Newsletter

WOW, we hit our 7 year anniversary mark next Friday.  What a ride it's been!  Thank you for supporting us - we are blessed beyond words and are so excited for what's to come.  We've learned so many lessons over these years, one of the most important of which is that it is essential to keep evolving, changing, and improving.  This year we've started quite a huge project of curing our own meats, and pickling and fermenting lots of stuff.  A smoker just arrived today - Sieb and Red are like two little kids in a candy for sure you'll be seeing smoked things on the menu any day now.  We are so thankful to our amazing crew and awesome have become our family.  We also want to publicly announce that Rachel and Lucas have officially become partners with us, and we are thrilled that this really is becoming a growing family business.

do you like our new bumper sticker?
There are hundreds of people I'd love to thank by name, but of course I'd leave someone out and feel horrible about it, so instead I'm going to point out our parents who have done so much to support us, Blair and Jan Paul, and Cary and Sieb Jurriaans - without you guys none of this could have happened (well obviously:)  Also, the other day as we were driving along, Netty said, "mom, Gene and Tamar (Felton) are just like our 3rd grandparents" and she is so right.  The Feltons are the most amazing role models, mentors, and friends - so thank you for believing in us 7 years guys are the best!  And then, without Gary Reidling, everything would be broken, so we definitely need to make a huge shout out to him...Thanks Gary!

CHOOCHOKAM Arts Festival.  This marks the 38th year of this wonderful festival of the arts, July 6th and 7th.  For more details on Choochokam and other Langley happenings visit
 On Monday, July 29th, we'll be having our 4th annual Georgetown Brewery beer maker Manny Chao comes out to the island and we pair up at least 5 courses with his great beer... $65/person.  This we'll seat between 5:30-8, call or email for reservations.  360 221 4060.

  The Island Shakespeare Festival has relocated from out in the woods at the Whidbey Institute into downtown Langley.  This summer's production is Much Ado about Nothing and runs Aug 3rd - Sep 15th every Fri, Sat, and Sun.  This is FREE, OUTDOOR Shakespeare and this year it will be in a circus tent.  Check out and SUPPORT the kickstarter project below to ensure this is a reality!

Photo: You know that you want this adorable little field mouse created by local sculptor Georgia Gerber.  Raffle tickets are only $5.00 each- and someone has to win, so it might as well be you!  The drawing is on August 27.  Tickets are available at the Children's Center, through any of our parents, or the Island Athletic Club.  (the sculpture is on display at the Athletic Club)  Starting soon, we will also have them available at local farmers markets.  All proceeds benefit the South Whidbey Children's Center. All summer long we'll be raffling off the darling field mouse sculpture by Georgia Gerber.  Tickets cost $5 and are available here all summer, as well as at many of the Bayview Farmer's Markets...proceeds to benefit the South Whidbey Children's Center
To hear up to the minute updates from us please like us on facebook:
or follow us on twitter:!/primabistro

Don't forget: Mondays are restaurant industry day (20% off bill), every day is teacher discount day (10% off), and Thursdays are live music night!
As always, thanks for your patronage and we hope to see you real soon!
Jenn, Sieb, Rachel, and Lucas

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Greetings!  Winter went out with a bang here, with snow a few weeks ago, but we are now welcoming a most lovely Spring on Whidbey!  We anticipate the deck will be opening late April or early May, it's all dependent on the weather allowing us to finish up some pretty major projects out there.  We've had an exceptionally busy last few months, thanks so much for all the business!

Winter dishes are slowly coming off the menu and being replaced with Spring dishes.  Georgie's brussels sprouts are now Georgie's radishes with normandy butter.  A new little appetizer that's been a real hit so far is our soft boiled egg with salmon caviar.  We are thrilled with the new custom cutting boards made by Jim Warren of Heritage Custom Woodworking  Our charcuterie (house cured meats) and cheese plates are being served on these beautiful boards!
We still have the French Onion Soup and raclette, but the Plats du Jour have changed as such:
Sunday - Lapin a la Moutarde: mustard braised half rabbit, mushrooms, bacon, spaetzle
Monday - Bouillabaisse: mussles, clams, white fish, rouille, saffron fumé
Tuesday - Foie de Veau au Poivre: pan seared veal liver, polenta, roasted shallots, green peppercorn jus
Wednesday - Anderson Ranch Lamb Chop "a la basquaise" fingerling potatoes, basque peppers
Thursday - Saucisson de Maison "choucroute": house made sausage, new potatoes, manny's beer braised sauerkraut

We are so excited to announce our upcoming Rosés of Whidbey wine dinner on May 5th featuring newly released vintages from Whidbey Island Winery, Useless Bay Winery, Ott Murphy Winery, and Block of the Bay (Gene and Tamar Felton's second go at rosé bottled by Greg and Elizabeth at Whidbey Island Winery).  It will be a 5 course, wine paired dinner, and tickets cost $75.  Seatings will be between 5:30 and 8:00.  The winemakers will all be here to talk with you, and Sieb will be creating a menu to compliment their wines.  If you haven't jumped on the rosé bandwagon yet, you are missing out!  Some people still have the image of white zinfandel in mind when they hear rosé...but it is far from that.  Take a look at the wikepedia article link below to learn all about it!
Give us a call 360 221 4060, or email for reservations.

We will continue to post updates on the The Natanya Johnson Scholarship Fund, which awards a two year scholarship in the Culinary Arts, the Red Spatula Award, to one young woman from South Whidbey each year.  We will be announcing the recipient of this award in a few weeks.  Natanya was our beloved pastry chef who passed away from complication of Type 1 Diabetes almost two years ago.  We will have numerous fundraising opportunities for this fund and of course we will accept donations at any time as well.  All donations for the Natanya Johnson Scholarship Fund are 100% tax deductible. If you are interested in contributing, please make checks out to the South Whidbey Schools Foundation; a thank you letter will provide the tax ID number for donor’s records. Please send checks to Prima Bistro, P.O. Box 976 Langley, WA 98260.  A website is being created, but current info can be found on the facebook page that we've created.

To hear up to the minute updates from us please like us on facebook:
or follow us on twitter:!/primabistro

Don't forget: Mondays are restaurant industry day (20% off bill), every day is teacher discount day (10% off), and Thursdays are live music night!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


  So that we can take our staff on a little outing, we will be closed this upcoming Monday, January 28 for lunch and dinner, and Tuesday the 29th for lunch - reopening for dinner at 5:00.  Thanks for understanding! As you can see, we have a lot of fun during these events and they are super important to us!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Please accept our apologies as we are trying to get this into a shareable format...but just want to get this info out ASAP to give applicants the time they need to complete the application.  Start thinking of how you are going to show us that you are the one in a unique and creative, menu, essay, etc!  Can't wait for the applications to start rolling in!

The Natanya Johnson Scholarship Fund awards a scholarship in the Culinary Arts, the Red Spatula Award, to one young woman from South Whidbey each year. This will provide a head start in a demanding but exciting career in the commercial kitchen, more often than not a man’s domain. It takes a strong, dedicated woman to excel in that environment – the goal is to defy those stereotypes and put women back in the kitchen in a position of authority and power.

The scholarship includes tuition for a two-year (maximum) Culinary Arts program at a western Washington Community College of the recipients’ choice, as well as books and supplies. Tuition and the cost of supplies, according to the chosen institution’s guidelines, will be paid directly to the institution based upon submitted receipts; total funds are not to exceed $12,000. Student’s status will be reviewed quarterly; grades must be submitted to the Natanya Johnson Scholarship Fund (NJSF) Board of Trustees (BOT). Recipients must meet the minimum credit, grade, general education and related instruction requirements of the institution. The NJSF BOT reserves the right to revoke the Red Spatula Award (RSA) at any time based on the recipient’s unsatisfactory performance. The scholarship will also be revoked if/when the recipient withdraws from their chosen culinary arts program. Participation in future fundraising efforts of the NJSF is required: prior to the final quarter of the program and disbursement thereof, the recipient must provide the NJSF BOT with a satisfactory example of how they will provide future support.

The RSA is to be awarded but not limited to young women who are current or past graduates of South Whidbey High School and South Whidbey Academy (formerly Bayview High School and Whidbey Island Academy). Applicants from South Whidbey will have priority consideration; connection to the South Whidbey environs is recommended but not mandatory.
Food industry experience is required, references will be checked. Please demonstrate to the NJSF BOT why you are interested, that you understand the demands of the field and are willing to meet them; specify your goals and how you will implement this training and experience in the future. Convince us you are “the one” in a format of your choice: write an essay, shoot a video, design a menu, develop a recipe, etc.; creativity is encouraged as it is a mandatory requirement for success in this field. Finalists will be interviewed in person. All applications should be sent to the Natanya Johnson Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 976, Langley, WA 98260; please include a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Applications must be received by March 1, 2013; the Red Spatula Award will be awarded in May. Candidates must be accepted to and enrolled in the program of their choosing within six months of receiving the RSA. If the applicant is not awarded the scholarship it is highly recommended that they continue to reapply; further experience in the industry will be recognized.

Complete and meet requirements of the South Whidbey High School Local Scholarship Common Application form (available at as of February 1, 2013) ; please write a cover letter explaining your intent and provide three letters of recommendation. See “Application Requirements” above for additional information.

DISCLAIMER: Any exceptions to the above requirements will be considered and approved at the sole discretion of the NJSF BOT. None of the requirements are intended to be discouraging or exclusionary. All applications will be considered on a case by case basis, the BOT will exercise the right of final approval.