The Herbfarm located in Woodinville, Washington is world-renowned for its fresh organic produce and pungent herbs, but carnivores take notice: it serves up some of the tastiest, most imaginatively prepared beef around.
On a recent visit, my wife Lisa and I experienced the wonders of the “Super Cattle in Seattle: An Exploration of Bovines” menu. This is one of the restaurant’s rotating repertories of inspired seasonal menus.
Co-founder Carrie Van Dyck introduced us to the magic of herbs by handing around stems of lavender, thyme, and other herbs. A whiff proved a delightful introduction to the many varied scents and flavors to come.
The 9-course tasting menu featured an astounding variety of succulent beef, starting off with the Sequencer, an appealing appetizer of Painted Hills Oregon Pastured Black Angus, 50-day Aged Prime Snohomish Valley Grass-Fed Angus Beef and Snake River Farm Idaho Wagyu Coulotte. The seared steak paired surprising well with the Treveri Cellars Sparkling Gewurztraminer. It was hard to choose a favorite cut as all were fatty, rich and delicious.
The Saucy Cheek followed, a tempura of Vinegar-Marinated Beef Cheek with Pink Scallop Sauce, Green Chili Sauce, black Garlic, Sauce, and fresh radishes. This intriguing dish paired very nicely with a 2014 Savage Grace Grüner Veltliner from Underwood Mountain. This was one of many delightful, surprising pairings during the meal. The dinner opened up a whole new world of fantastic local producers of food as well as drink. Sommelier Bruce Achtermann deserves credit for discovering these lesser-known gems.
Your Whole Sole came next, with the 2014 Walter Scott Chardonnay “Cuvee Anne” highlighting the fish’s briny flavor.
The next two dishes, Rare Magnolia and Get Shorty, took richness to a new level, with a Grilled-Rare Pure Magnolia Wagyu paired with a 2012 Désignée Cabernet-Franc from Conner-Lee Vineyard and a 48-hour braised Wagyu Short Rib paired with 2013 Gorman Cabernet Sauvignon, “The Fog,” Old Vines Red Mountain. Kudos to Chef Chris Weber for creating these delicious concoctions. They were a carnivore’s idea of heaven.
Blue Boner, a beef bone stuffed with Jacob’s Blue Cheese, followed and could serve as a delightful addition to the Atkins Diet.
To accompany the final courses, Co-founder Ron Zimmerman poured me a glass of the Chateau d’Yquem 2001, my favorite dessert wine in the world for the transcendental purity of its fruit. He followed that up with an opulent Toro Albala Don PX Gran Reserva Sherry, Vintage 1946, both savory and sweet, full of umami flavors.
Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding with 2012 Brian Carter Cellars Barrel-Aged Opulento rounded out the amazing meal.
The evening proved an education in the bounty of regional food and wine brought to life by the warmth, dedication and professionalism of founders Ron Zimmerman, Carrie Van Dyck and their outstanding staff. I came away pleasantly stuffed and utterly convinced that this is one of the premier dining destinations in the Northwest. For more: http://theherbfarm.com/.
Nicholas O’Connell, MFA, Ph.D., is a travel, food and wine writer who has contributed to Condé Nast Traveler, Saveur, Food and Wine, The Wine Spectator, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal. He teaches a Travel, Food and Wine Writing Class (May 21-27) in Rioja, Spain.