The new ilani Casino complex, just north of Portland, Oregon, is bringing fine dining, entertainment and a bit of glitz to the countryside. I recently attended the exciting opening of the casino, toured the restaurants and sampled the cuisine of Line & Lure, the ilani seafood restaurant.
Ilani Casino and The Cowlitz Tribe
Known for farms, rolling hills and forests, the area around Ridgefield, Washington was once the land of the Cowlitz people. The aboriginal territory encompasses 2.4 million acres. The towns of Kelso, Olequa, and Toledo, Washington are built on original Cowlitz village sites.
Look down when you walk into the stunning ilani casino complex. A beautiful map on the floor illustrates the area’s rivers and the lands of the early Cowlitz people. The word ilani means “sing” to the Cowlitz Tribe, and it is stressed that songs are a way of handing down the culture.
The Cowlitz Tribe, now numbering 2,000, entered a partnership with Salishan Mohegan of the Mohegan Sun Casino created in 1996 by the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, to develop the tribal land near Ridgefield.
Inside the New ilani Casino
With 368,000 total square feet, ilani includes 100,000 square feet of gaming space; 15 different restaurants, bars and retail outlets; and a 2,500-seat meeting and entertainment venue hosting nationally recognized performances. It is now the closest casino to Portland, Oregon.
The décor incorporates cultural elements. The stunning lighting above you resembles the shape of the woven cedar hats for which the Salish people are known. At the opening, many tribal members wore cedar hats and red and black button blankets and vests. It was a rousing opening with drummers, singers and children dancing.
This is an exciting time for the Cowlitz Tribe. Ilani is complete and they anticipate adding a hotel at some point in the future.
Dining at Ilani Casino
While there are several fast food restaurants such as Smashburger, and The Long House—a lovely sushi restaurant—there are also two fine dining venues. Both are exciting for locals and worth a visit for those traveling in the Portland and southwest Washington area.
Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse and Line & Lure Seafood Kitchen and Tap bring fine dining to the area. Both Line & Lure and Michael Jordan’s Steak House are open seven days a week, 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. and feature weekend brunch.
Michael Jordan’s Steak House, named for the basketball star, offers indoor seating, a private dining area and an outdoor dining patio, complete with a fire pit.
Line & Lure Seafood Kitchen and Tap features Pacific Northwest seafood with craft cocktails and local brews. It is a vibrant, casual spot to gather for cocktails and Pacific Northwest seafood.
Line & Lure offers indoor dining, a private dining area and an outdoor dining patio, also with a fire pit. Lure features regional dishes, local beers wines, signature cocktails and a fun, festive seafood boil.
Dining at Line & Lure Seafood Kitchen and Tap
I was invited to dine at Line & Lure Seafood Kitchen and Tap and enjoyed the perfectly cooked salmon dish. The hard-seared Columbia River King Salmon was served over corn, edamame and summer squash succotash, topped with celery gremolata and garnished with parsley oil. I enjoyed my salmon paired with a local wine.
We were seated in a booth with a view of the rolling countryside with evergreen trees in the distance and the bright green of grass and new growth on trees. The fire pit flickered just outside.
We chatted with Chef Ryan Zeigler, a local graduate of the Western Culinary Institute Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Program. He has worked in the restaurant industry for over 14 years, and has been an executive chef for nearly a decade.
He showed us the signature Seafood Boil offered by Line & Lure. Boils are served in a large metal bowl with corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, andouille sausage, cornbread and honey-cayenne butter.
Diners have the choice of a lobster boil, shrimp and clam boil or crab boil. Given what we saw coming out of the kitchen that evening, the boils are proving to be very popular.
When You Go to ilani Casino
Ilani is located at 1 Cowlitz Way, Ridgefield, Washington. They have their own exit from I-5 and you can’t miss the huge lighted sign. The casino resort complex is about 45 minutes north of Portland, Oregon.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a meal for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.