CHILLY MORNINGS and color-shifting leaves mean autumn has arrived, and you can bet your best silverware local chefs are embracing the seasonal change, transitioning from peaches to pumpkins. I checked in with many of our favorite restaurants to catch up on how the summer bounty and fall harvest are changing menus.
DERU Market Dinner Club
Chefs Jamie Cassady and Jordon Cooper made appearances all over Kirkland this summer, from stands at the Kirkland Wednesday Market and festivals like the Classic Car Show. Their “use what’s fresh” M.O. is a no-brainer during the summer growing season and they managed to maintain frequent menu changes.
This fall, DERU Market is offering a dinner club service where customers can choose dishes a week ahead by emailing their selections to the chefs. The weekly menu is only available via email to customers who sign up at email@example.com.
“The Dinner Club is our way of bridging the gap for our clients who are planners who don't find it convenient to wait until the day-of to see what is in our deli case,” says Chef Cassady.
Some of the dishes on the upcoming menu include grilled flank steak stuffed with chimichurri sauce, a pumpkin polenta cake, roasted butternut squash farro salad and maple stone fruit crisp. Many of the items are gluten-free and all are made with the freshest and often organic ingredients. The regular daily offerings will still be available in-store for customers who prefer to drop in after work.
Honey Harvest at Bin on the Lake
Many of you may have read about the honey bee installation at The Woodmark back in May. The hotel partnered with Daniel Sullivan of Shipwreck Honey, who provided and maintained six hives on site at Carillon Point. Sullivan estimated that the hives could produce more than 1,000 pounds of honey this summer -- enough for culinary purposes, to make honey beer and even to sell to the public.
Unfortunately, the hives had to be moved several times to adjust their flight patterns for the public and then the end of the summer brought a long drought. The hard-working ladies managed to make just 160 pounds of honey.
“It was less than we thought, but we are continuing with the hives and are excited for next season,” says The Woodmark GM John Murphy.
The kitchen served the honey with cheese plates and foie gras, drizzled over figs and in the French 75 cocktail. We’ll have to wait until next summer for our honey beer fix.
Cafe Juanita’s Culinary Diplomat
Chef Holly Smith spent the summer enjoying juicy cherries, melons and heirloom tomatoes. The restaurant even offered a couple of meals “al fresco” down by Juanita Creek on the property.
In September, Chef Smith’s name was included along with Seattle’s Maria Hines (Tilth) as a member of the first American Chef Corps, part of the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership. Members may be called upon to cook for visiting dignitaries or as cultural representatives when travelling abroad.
In a video address, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called food the oldest diplomatic tool, “Sharing a meal can help people transcend boundaries and build bridges in a way that nothing else can."
The Expanding Lucia Family
The harvest was ripe indeed for Lucia owner Michael Halter. He and his wife Megan welcomed a second child into their family. Baby Parker will be eating truffle cream sauce meatballs in no time!
Lucia is a favorite among locals for its tasty Italian-inspired dishes and daily deals like 2-for-1 pasta on Mondays, half off a bottle of wine on Tuesdays and live music on Wednesdays. One of Lucia’s most frequent performers recently won a spot on The Voice’s blind auditions -- way to go, Mycle Wastman!
Grand Reopening at Trellis
Due to the catastrophic flood damage at the Heathman Hotel in May, Trellis restaurant was closed during the normally busy summer months. Chef Brian Scheehser used some of the down time to deep clean and reorganize the kitchen. Approximately 1,500 additional square feet were added in private dining spaces.
But much of his time went to his other full-time job -- farming his land down at the South 47 just off the Woodinville-Redmond road. Restaurant employees that were usually busy in the Trellis kitchen had the opportunity to spend some time on the farm. A nearby farm lent the use of a kitchen space so that none of the produce went to waste.
In addition to the house-made onion and tomato marmalades, Chef Scheehser put up brandied cherries, seedless blackberry jam, blueberry spoon jam and pickles of all sorts. The hot dry weather was perfect for a bumper crop of heirloom tomatoes, the bulk of which will be pureed for use throughout the year.
“Our freezers are full,” says a contented Chef Scheehser, who added that the farm donated produce to Hopelink several times over the summer.
In addition to welcoming back the Trellis regulars, the restaurant is hosting a charity dinner on Oct. 20 benefiting the James Beard House, which is dedicated to preserving America’s culinary heritage. Guest chefs for the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour are Ethan Stowell (Staple & Fancy), Holly Smith (Cafe Juanita), Milwaukee's Justin Aprahamian (Sanford Restaurant) and Portland’s Naomi Pomeroy (Beast). Each chef will prepare a different course. Tickets for the five course dinner are $165 per person; call the restaurant at 435-284-5900.
When Volterra opened in early September, Kirkland gained something unique -- a truly urban dining experience. The spare decor and modern materials give the space an edgy vibe.
And the food is fantastic! I recently enjoyed the pork jowl pasta, particularly the earthy broth scented with the heady combination of truffles and butter.
According to managing partner Michelle Quisenberry, Eastsiders have given Volterra an extremely warm welcome. Customers who used to make the trek to the Ballard restaurant have shown up in droves, while new friends are discovering Volterra on a daily basis.
"We've been fully booked nearly every night since our ribbon-cutting," says Quisenberry referring to the restaurant's opening day on Sept. 11.
Dining habits of Eastside customers are nearly identical to their Ballard counterparts -- the wild boar is still the most popular. However, Kirkland residents like to walk to dinner and consquently spend a little more time enjoying dinner and often an extra glass of wine.
"We have had to adjust to a little longer turn-around time here in Kirkland," says Quisenberry.
Upcoming things to look forward to include happy hour beginning Oct. 1, Sunday brunch beginning Oct. 7 and lunch service beginning Oct. 8. Accoustic absorbtion tiles are set for installation on the 8th as well, which will elevate Volterra to a perfect first-date venue. It's hard to make a good first impression when she can't hear your witty jokes and deeply interesting questions!
What surprises have you found so far this fall on Kirkland's dining scene? Tell us in the comments box below!