It's a massive Week in Reviews, with Seattle critics and food writers checking in at restaurants including Porkchop & Co., Restaurant Marron, and Brimmer & Heeltap. First up, Providence Cicero makes the drive to Woodinville, mentioning some of the behind-the-scenes saga at The Herbfarm, including a fire in the 90s and a 4-star Seattle Times review in 2001. Thirteen years later the Herbfarm earns three stars.
The star demotion may be due to the fact that Cicero was, "by turns bewitched, bothered and bemused" by her night at the restaurant. Two chefs have lead the kitchen since Jerry Traunfeld departed to open Poppy in 2007. The current chef, Chris Weber, is 28 and was born the same month and year The Herbfarm opened its doors in 1986. The critic is mostly positive about the food, less so about the marketing:
The huckstering bothered me, given the meal's steep package price. Not just the dangling of additional wines but the promotion of upcoming dinners and of rooms at Willows Lodge. I appreciated the food and wine context all the speechifying provided, but not the commercials.
Back in the city, Seattle Met's Kathyrn Robinson checks in at "welcoming Ballard newcomer" Brimmer & Heeltap. With chef Mike Whisenhunt "rocking his own novel renditions of the Korean fusion" in the kitchen, B&H serves a menu that's "so solid" Robinson isn't sure what her favorite dish is, although the beet plate and pickled oyster shooters are both contenders. Also: Grilled Como loaf that's like a bread steak you eat with a fork and knife. "If it's not the wickedest thing you've put in your mouth all day, then you're living the dream." She's less keen on inconsistent dessert options.
Seattle Weekly's Nikki Sprinkle stays in the neighborhood, checking in at Porkchop & Co. In a sentence, the new Ballard spot from Paul Osher is "a hybrid deli–meets–farm-to-table restaurant with unique sandwiches, salads, and sides—as well as a pared-down breakfast and dinner menu with prebottled booze."
Sprinkle found the need to order at the counter "a bit jarring," the flavor of the food "lacking" ("Even their housemade kimchi felt like it needed 'something',") and the signature pork chop sandwich "solid, if still a tad quiet." But she "fell in love with the spaetzle" and says the smoked beet puree was so good it "will forever put in doubt any other beet preparation you encounter." Overall, a thumbs up.
Over in Madrona, Seattle Mag's Julien Perry reviews Ethan Stowell's Red Cow. Bright spots include the charcuterie ("a standout on several visits") and frisée and bacon salad with a poached duck egg. Which steak is best? Perry's "money is on the rib-eye" with a side of "truly tasty" fries.
The Stranger's Bethany Jean Clement is all for the "fine dining without the attitude" at Capitol Hill's Restaurant Marron. The "highly composed, haute New American food" from chef/owner Eric Sakai is a weird, wonderful mix of high-end and unfussy. Dishes had a few misses (Thai basil soup with "a white fluff of goat whey foam" was tasteless, a warm salad with soft egg, gold beans and turnips was so-so) and just as many hits: Very good duck, lamb, and lemon sponge cake with toasted cashew ice milk and peaches.
· The Herbfarm: A feast worthy of its reputation, with a side of salesmanship [ST]
· Brimmer and Heeltap's Unlikely Harmony [Seattle Met]
· A New Breed of Farm-to-Table Deli in Ballard [SW]
· A Meaty Menu at Madrona's Red Cow [Seattle Mag]
· Fine Dining Without the Attitude at Restaurant Marron [The Stranger]
· All Week in Reviews Coverage [-ESEA-]