Friday, July 11, 2008
Foodie farm heaven
If your idea of a good restaurant experience is to look at the menu, choose your food, eat it, and go home, then don't go to The Herbfarm.
But if it would interest you to know that the morels on your plate arrived unexpectedly at the kitchen door just hours ago, and you would enjoy a leisurely nine-course meal created from locally grown, seasonal foods, then The Herbfarm might be a little bit of heaven.
This is dining as theater: The staff line up for their introductions (after your first course is served, thankfully) in front of a red velvet curtain, which then opens with a flourish to display the pristine kitchen. It would be a little silly if not for the sincere enthusiasm of the players, beginning with the server who offered us a choice of aromatic herbs to scent our sparkling wine.
The restaurant exudes warmth and coziness: a realistic gas fireplace, lush Victorian decor, and homey mismatched table settings. Everything is for sale, although the pitch didn't really detract from our evening.
I was tempted to curl up in the comfortable armchair in the ladies' room and peruse the stack of interesting children's books placed there. ("Babar's Yoga for Elephants," "When Pigasso Met Mootisse.")
We opted for a communal table and met two other couples, one of whom was also driving cross-country and had visited some of the same parks and monuments as we did. One diner at our table enjoyed herbal cocktails instead of the six paired wines served to the rest of us; they looked lovely, and I wished I could ask for a taste.
Here's our menu for the evening, with pictures of most courses:
Dungeness crab chawan mushi with shiso and smoked steelhead caviar, tomato gel with marjoram creme fraiche and crispy fennel, rillette of rabbit glazed with apricot and lemon thyme gastrique
Kodiak Island weathervane scallops with salt-herring brandade, Oregon white truffles, Herbfarm bunching onions, and basil tips
Slowly roasted sockeye salmon with sea asparagus, bok choy, and foie gras emulsion
Crisped breast of guinea fowl with duckling agnolotti, caraway thyme, and Oregon blonde morels
Anderson Ranch pastured lamb, lavender-crusted loin and 24-hour-braised breast, sweet peas and turnips on gratin of roasted garlic and potato
House-smoked Berkshire pork neck with Mt. Townsend Creamery Trailhead Tomme, roasted asparagus, and sweet and sour blueberries
"Flavors from Mr. McGregor's garden:" chamomile and lemon verbena panna cotta with carrot sorbet
"Comforts for a July evening:" Wenatchee peach and strawberry layer cake with apricot-anise hyssop sauce and Bing cherry ice cream
Spearmint shortbread, lavender palmiers, bay-caramel milk chocolate truffles, angelica-chartreuse chocolate truffles, and white chocolate knackerli.