The Herbfarm: From farm to table to Issaquah

June 28, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

The most-lauded restaurant in the Pacific Northwest, a bastion in farm-to-table dining and a place possessed of more stars than the Milky Way, once added national prestige to dining in Issaquah — a city recognized for chocolates, root beer and little else.

The Herbfarm served slow-roasted salmon in zucchini blossoms, tarragon ice-topped melon soup and other creations from a space near Boehms Candies from May 1999 until April 2001. The restaurant then departed for more upscale digs at a bucolic Woodinville inn.

Tragedy led The Herbfarm to Issaquah. Fire destroyed the original Fall City restaurant in January 1997.

Owners intended to rebuild in Fall City and, in the meantime, selected the since- closed Hedges Cellars tasting room along Northeast Gilman Boulevard as the interim location for the restaurant.

The location presented challenges and, for diners during the Issaquah era, altered the experience. The garden tour, a precursor to meals in Fall City and Woodinville, went on hiatus while The Herbfarm operated in Issaquah, cofounder Carrie Van Dyck recalled.

The floorplan shielded the kitchen from the dining room, a departure from the open kitchen in Fall City.

Still, the restaurant reeled in diners — and accolades. The New York Times recommended The Herbfarm in a 2000 travelogue and national magazines clamored to feature the Pacific Northwest menu.

The menu is ever-evolving to reflect changes in seasons and themes.

“We never serve the same thing,” Van Dyck said. “You could come to the same theme year after year and have a different experience each time.”

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