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The Herbfarm in Woodinville, WA

by Karen on January 31st, 2012
photo from sunset magazine

The menu was designed for Red Heads……. for those who love red wine.

Perfect for a cold winter evening and a quick little trip.  Not that going from Seattle to Woodinville is much of a trip but it turned out to be exactly what we needed.

Last Friday night our son went on a retreat and our daughter is at college so we booked a night at the Willows Lodge in Woodinville and made reservations at The Herbfarm. This meant that after dinner we had to walk across the parking lot to get safely home for the night, it was worth every penny.

The Willows Lodge

I have always wanted to do this and when our plans fell through to go out of town it seemed like a great way to get away for a little adventure.  The only question I now have is why did we wait so long?   The Herbfarm has a rotating menu of themed dinners throughout the year so the experience is always a bit different.  We have plans to go back, next time with some friends.

It is kind of like going to dinner and a show.  We loved being able to see the kitchen action from our table.

And prior to the meal,  an overview is given by the sommelier, Tysan Dutta, she was quite knowledgeable. This dinner was unusual in that the sommelier selected the wine first and then the chef developed a dish to pair with it. Tysan would talk about the wine, the vineyard, the winery owner and then the chef, Chris Weber, spoke about each course and wine pairing. 

Chris Weber, chef

I don’t have a picture of it but most of the evening Chris and his team meticulously plated everything along the front counter of the kitchen.  The kitchen photo above is from the Herbfarm website,  the baskets of plants were not there during our visit and we could see the plating of the food. It is a well-oiled machine. The service was entertaining as well as the classical guitar accompaniment.

As we sat down to dinner I debated about spending the evening taking pictures of my food and decided to just enjoy the evening, most of these photos are those you would find on the web already.  Though the two photos at the end of the post are mine–much easier to deal with the camera the following morning.

 There were some notable items on the menu, actually they were extraordinary:

-Rutabaga Soup with Smoked Arctic Char Caviar, Lemon Thyme, Mustard Cream

-24 hour Braised Woodoven Wagyu Beef Short Rib with Winter Savory, Winter Mushrooms, Cold Weather Black Kale

And of course the other 7 courses were delectable but these two dishes were stand-outs. 

They were also able to make my meal gluten free without much altering, it appeared as though only a few differences to what everyone else received. And aside from the server confirming I needed a gluten free meal (based on my reservation request) I didn’t need to explain or worry about anything.

The wines we loved :

2009 Palotai Vineyard “Bulls Blood”, Estate Kadarka, Oregon (paired with a lovely beet dish with capers, truffle sauce, and 40-month mangalitsa prosciutto)

2008 Cristom Pinot Noir, Louis Vineyard, Willamette Valley (paired with sturgeon but would have gone well with salmon)–I need to see if I can buy some of this—it reminded me that when we were doing the tastings to help Wine World stock their store we tasted Pinot from every vineyard of this winery and all were excellent.

2006 Tranche Cellars Barbera, Yakima Valley, Washington
(served with duck confit)

2009 Maison Bleue Graviere Meritage Red, Snipes Mountain (paired with the fantastic short rib noted above) we were so enthralled with the short rib that I actually cannot remember this wine — my focus was on the short rib but it went together so well that the wine must have been wonderful!

Throughout the evening, my husband kept disappearing to go read more from the incredible cellar book that showcased all of the wine in stock. Something like 25,000 bottles on hand!!  Of course during a 4-hour meal there are plenty of opportunities to get up and walk around–each time you leave the table a brand new napkin appears and I think he went all the way up to the heavy-user category of about 8 napkins.  At the end of the night they let him take the book back to the room for further reading!

During the cheese service we had the option of going for a tawny port flight 10-20-40 year old ports side by side, a glass of exquisite Sauternes Chateau d’Yquem at 100 points!, or for those wishing a palate cleanser–a flight of the grand champagnes. 

Ok, so here is why it is important to bring your reading glasses….

I am just now noticing that there is an upcharge for these options.  If I am reading this correctly I paid $65 for a glass of the Yquem, well– after all– it is called the world’s greatest Sauternes!  I guess we’ll find out for sure when the credit card bill arrives.

The following day we had breakfast at the Barking Frog restaurant which is part of The Willows Lodge with James Beard award winning chefs to their name.  We noticed the night before that the lobby bar of the lodge has a great happy hour well-attended by locals.

And no visit would be complete without seeking out the resident pigs, it was a bit chilly in the morning so all we got was a snout…..

  1. Wow..Sounds like a great dinner…This sounded very interesting:
    Rutabaga Soup with Smoked Arctic Char Caviar, Lemon Thyme, Mustard Cream…I can’t even guess how this soup might taste.

  2. Coincidentally, I went to Herb Farm tonight (2/11/12) and that same soup was on the menu. It was SPECTACULAR, no joke. I’m going to try and duplicate it…if I can.

    Nutty, creamy, smooth, with subtle notes (nutmeg?) the bite of thyme, and just exploded in taste in your mouth.


  3. Karen permalink

    The Herb Farm is quite the experience!! I just looked at your blog and those doughnuts look amazing—I will have to give them a try gluten free style.

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