Food and Beverage
Fine Wine and Dining in the Pacific Northwest
The farm-to-table movement has given birth to some fine-dining gems that are perfect for groups looking for local flavor
By Kinley Welly
December 30, 2010
The Pacific Northwest, a region long known for being environmentally conscious, is taking that mentality to the dining table, and upping the haute factor with fine-dining options that focus on local ingredients, wine, and even beer and spirits.
“The farm-to-table movement has been pervasive in Seattle for a long time,” says Tom Norwalk, president and CEO of Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s an important part of our lifestyle here. We’re seeing increasing interest from planners and their meeting attendees in experiencing it while they’re in town, and we think that trend will continue. This city offers amazing access to indigenous food, wine, craft beers and ales, and coffee.”
Start sampling Seattle with a visit to Urbane at the 346-room Hyatt at Olive 8.
The restaurant not only works closely with local farms, but is also housed in a LEED-certified building topped with a green roof, triple-filters city water for on-property use, and composts extensively. Ingredients sourced from within 200 miles of the property include hazelnuts, dairy, produce, pork, grass-fed beef, and, of course, wine.
Trellis Restaurant at the 91-room Heathman Hotel in Kirkwood, just across Lake Washington from Seattle, is another excellent venue where fine-dining meets locally grown. Here, farm-to-table takes on new meaning as many ingredients come directly from Executive Chef Brian Scheehser’s 10-acre farm. Where else can you order a “Two-Hour Salad,” which features ingredients picked within two hours of arriving on your table?
The Tulalip Resort Casino, 30 minutes outside of Seattle, offers two fine options: Tulalip Bay, which has won both a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and the DiRoNa Award (Distinguished Restaurants of North America), and Blackfish Wild Salmon Bar & Grill, which serves up the local favorite, salmon, prepared using traditional tribal techniques. Blackfish also offers an array of regional wines and microbrews.
“Salmon is a quintessential Seattle favorite, and it’s hard to find a menu that doesn’t include it,” says Norwalk, adding that even the convention center offers high-end local cuisine.
“The Washington State Convention & Trade Center has long been an industry leader when it comes to using local, farm-fresh products in its kitchen,” says Norwalk. “Executive Chef Jose Chavez’s connections with Northwest farmers, seafood purveyors, and vintners allow him to bring the state’s finest products to his guests—Walla Walla sweet onions, fresh Dungeness crab, locally grown greens and aromatic herbs, and wines from Washington’s award-winning vineyards.”
In the Portland, OR, area, attendees will enjoy local haunts like Clarklewis, which has been a farm-to-table stalwart since opening in 2003, or Meriwether’s (Portland really loves explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark), which sits on the site of the 1905 World’s Fair and can host groups of up to 300— Meriwether’s also maintains the five-acre Skyline Farm, from which it harvests most of the vegetables served at the restaurant. For groups of up to 35, try Park Kitchen, where the winter menu includes tempting options such as shortribs with lime pickle greens and a risotto of winter vegetables and back truffles.
“This city was doing farm-to-table long before anyone started calling it that. It all dates back to the small family-owned farms that circle the countryside outside of the city limits. There is so much locally grown produce around that it just makes sense to use it instead of buying stuff off the truck from food service vendors,” says Marcus Hibdon, Travel Portland’s communications and public relations manger.
“For attendees, it is part of experiencing the Oregon lifestyle and a very important part of the culture,” Hibdon continues. “Oregonians are used to eating food that is grown just a few miles away and served fresh. We drink Oregon pinot instead of imports. We drink locally brewed beer since we have more breweries than anywhere else in the world. It is all part of what makes visiting Portland and Oregon so unique and memorable.”
As you sample the local spirits, don’t forget to swing by The Nines, a 331-room Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel, for a glass of house moonshine—it’s unexpectedly palatable and surely something attendees haven’t tried before. Then stay for dinner at Urban Farmer, where most ingredients, such as grass-fed beef, are sourced locally (the menu lists local farms the restaurant works with). Pair your entree with a locally crafted beer, or cocktail made using Oregon spirits—or choose from an extensive wine list, which includes selections from outside the Northwest, but you’re missing out if you don’t sample a local pinot noir. The restaurant can accommodate up to 75 guests in various spaces.
“I know planners want to make their events memorable, and a good way to do that is to make sure the attendees walk away with a sense of place from the site they visit,” says Hibdon. “I can’t think of a better way to get a sense of place from Portland than from the
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