The Herbfarm—A Symphony of Flavors
Dining at the Herbfarm is more than just a meal; it is a culinary journey where guests enjoy multiple gastronomic delights composed of unique and incredible products found in the Pacific Northwest. Founders Carrie Van Dyck and Ron Zimmerman work together to showcase local ingredients in imaginative ways.
The Ingredients | Each year between 12 and 20 uniquely themed nine-course dinners are served and paired with wines to entice and thrill hungry guests. Long-term relationships with local purveyors ensure that only the finest ingredients make it to the table, which is one reason why they have earned local, state and national acclaim including awards like the AAA Five Diamond Rating.
The Beginning | Before dinner begins, guests are invited to peruse the impressive 26,000-bottle wine cellar where thousands of award-winning bottles await their opening night. Later, Carrie gives a short talk about the farm’s origin while leading guests outside to the herb garden. Walking through the garden, she conveys entertaining and informative facts about the herbs and the restaurant’s philosophy on dining.
The Restaurant | After the tour, patrons are escorted back inside amongst an eclectic array of artwork collected from around the world. The foyer features a fireplace so large that it had to be installed first and the restaurant built around it later. The main dining room exudes country charm featuring old photos, lamps, chandeliers and warm-colored-fabrics that adorn the furnishings. The Founder’s Room is the perfect place for a small group to celebrate a special event together.
To launch the dining extravaganza, Ron addresses the crowd and describes the composition of the evening. Music begins from the far corner of the room as Patricio Contreras plays his guitar.
The Conductor | Executive Chef Chris Weber assumes the role of a conductor leading the kitchen staff through each movement of the well-orchestrated meal. The opus begins in the open kitchen where customers can watch as culinary instruments are used to create enticing pieces.
The Menu | Each course has been perfected down to the most intricate detail. Preparation is well-practiced; and when the masterpieces of flavor and spice arrive tableside, diners experience a crescendo of delights to their palates. I visited the Herbfarm in March, and the theme was Super Cattle in Seattle. The menu featured marbled Wagyu beef with grass-fed Angus, water buffalo and bison.
A nine-course dinner focused on beef initially sounded a bit ominous; but as I progressed through the concerto dish after dish, I found that each one was designed and executed so flawlessly that I was never overwhelmed. Plates ranged from a delicate and light consommé to a thick and juicy slice of grilled Wagyu beef.
My favorite of the evening was the Cow Pie. Chef Weber used Snake River Farms Wagyu cheeks, Puyallup duck foie gras, chard leaves and mushroom duxelles. He stacked the ingredients and then wrapped them in puff pastry and served the pie on top of a sunchoke-horseradish anglaise. It was hearty and delicious.
On the lighter side, Lummi Island halibut with sunflower oil and thinly sliced radishes was finished off by a member of the staff carrying a beautiful silver coffee pot filled with green nettle soup. He deftly poured the steaming liquid around the fish creating a lovely ring. Each course was tasty and visually appealing, but the pristine service took the dining event to a new level of grandeur. Everything was impeccably timed and delivered, and the spirit of the room was lighthearted.
The Event | Dinners last approximately four hours allowing time for guests to savor each bite and discuss the course amongst themselves before moving on to the next. Dinners are paired with five carefully selected wines, but guests can opt to enjoy non-alcoholic beverages or even bring their own wine with them.
After a full evening of spectacular food, wine, entertainment and culinary camaraderie, there is no better place to spend the night than in one of the two specially designed Herbfarm suites located on the same property at Willows Lodge.
The Suites | The Orchard House Suite features a beautiful walnut four-poster king-size bed and French doors leading to a private deck overlooking the herb garden. The Herb Garden Suite boasts a sleigh bed, bathtub for two, and European countryside décor creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. Both rooms include beautifully designed feature fireplaces, comfy loveseats and tasteful artwork.
I stayed in the Herb Garden Suite and was thrilled to retire nearby after such an exquisite and satisfying dinner. Treat yourself to an award-winning culinary experience and book a room in one of the Herbfarm’s enchanting suites.
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