What Does a $200 Meal Look Like?

A few weekends ago I was lucky enough to attend a dinner at the Herbfarm with my similarly food-obsessed friend, Shawna. The Herbfarm is not just any restaurant. It is one of the most lauded dining experiences in Washington state, if not the country.

Each evening is a set nine-course menu that adheres to a seasonal theme. Our night was “A Spring Forager’s Dinner,” featuring, unsurprisingly, a bounty of foraged Northwest ingredients. I honestly do not know how to use written words to adequately emphasize the amazing freshness of each course, or the intense satisfaction at the end of our meal. Actually, I think in this case it is more effective to show rather than tell.

These are all pictures taken in semi-stealth, meaning no flash or rearranging of plates/glasses at our communal table. I didn’t want to be the asshole with the repeatedly┬ádisruptive┬ácamera in this elegant atmosphere, blinding all the sophisticated diners who threw down hundreds of dollars for this meal. But I had to have something to show you!


1. From the Edge of the Sea

Kombu-Cured Albacore Tuna on Seaweed Crackers with Oregon Wasabi Root
Pickled Bull Kelp Stalk with Puget Sound Geoduck on Nori Seaweed Sauce
Local Spot Prawn Soup with Smoked Quinault River Steelhead Roe & Chives


2. Hen ‘n’ Nettle

Pan-Roasted Eastern Washington Spring Chicken & Its Crispy Confit
With Poached Hanna Hama Oysters, Radish, Stinging Nettle Sauce, and Lovage Oil


3. Morel Support

Spring Morel Mushrooms and Line-Caught Wild Halibut
Savory Morel Jus, Wild Watercress, and Caraway


4. Alexanders Piglet

Housemade Suckling Pig Porchetta
With Alexanders Seeds, Homemade Mustard-Artisan Cider Sauce
Miner’s Lettuce and Gathered Forest Wildlings


5. Oxalic Interlude

Wood-Sorrel Sorbet with Lemon Geranium Gel and Lemony Leaves


6. Young Milk Lamb

While Roasted Suckling Lamb and Medallions of Pastured Lamb
Spring Onion Roasted in the Coals
New Shallot Greened Mashed Potatoes, Foraged Fern Fiddleheads
Lamb Rotisserie Drippings Sauce


7. Alpine Sheep

Ancient Heritage “Adelle” Sheep Cheese, Herbfarm Spring Farm Honey
Alpine Lakes Sheep’s Milk Crisps, Alpine Heather Buds
Wild Western Juniper Berry Dust & Douglas Fir


8. Native Trees

Madrone Tree Bark-Caramel Bavarian, Whipped Big-Leaf Maple Syrup
Fresh Sage and Crunchy Black Currants and Its Powder


9. Wild Nibbles

Puffed Wild Rice Crispies, Sea Buckthorn Pate de Fruit
Licorice Fern Root Truffle, Rhubarb-Oxeye Daisy Tart, Knotweed Cookie

Lessons learned: Nettles are a seasonal trend I can really get behind. I should utilize black currants more in my own cooking. I don’t always hate anise/licorice type flavors IF they are paired correctly. Fiddleheads can be delicious but their texture is still weird. I still really love meat. Mine courses isn’t as overwhelming as it sounds when it’s nine courses of incredible cuisine.

In conclusion: WORTH EVERY PENNY.

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One comment

  • Cindy June 21, 2011  

    YES, YES, YES ! ! The Herbfarm is sooo worth the trip AND the money !
    I’ve been there several times and its always a Gustatory Delight.

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