My partner and I are DC foodies coming out for some much needed R&R over Memorial Day weekend. Plan is to stay at Willow's Lodge, drink some wine, eat good food and just chill out. I've considered possibly staying right on the Willow's Lodge grounds for all of our meals at Barking Frog and Herbfarm and their wine lounge--all of which sound great--but it occurs to me that there must be other good spots in the vicinity, especially since the area is the winery region. Any thoughts? I was surprised not to find more discussion of Herbfarm on the boards--is it really worth it? Also interested in winery recs and if there is a good winery for an afternoon picnic... Oh, and where to buy picnic fare, while you're at it. We'll have a car and I'd certainly be up for venturing 10-15 minutes away for a good meal--any nice stops around the wineries, for instance?--although drinking and driving is always a concern (and why staying put at Willow's has some appeal). Thanks, Hounds!
Unfortunately, Woodinville isn't really a food destination and my last several meals at barking Frog haven't been great though others have had better. I haven't been to the Herbfarm but people either love it or consider it too much of a "show" and not worth the money. I would also take a look at Purple which is also in the "Tourist District". Downtown Woodinville is near the "Warehouse District" and we like Clay Oven for an Indian Dinner. You can probably get to Redmond in 15 minutes which gives a few more choices like Spicy Talk for Chinese or Pomegranate Bistro. As far as a picnic, the grounds of St Michelle are probably the nicest. Januik has some outside seating and serves food. As to winery recommendations, everyone seems to like something different, but in the tourist district I'd suggest Mark Ryan, DeLille, Ross Andrew, Darby, The Library and Brian Carter. I've probably missed several. I've lost track of how many wineries are now in the "Warehouse District" but I like Baer, Guardian and in the same general area but down the street, Efeste. Check out
http://woodinvillewinecountry.com/ for more info.
Unfortunately, the food scene in Woodinville does have a ways to go to catch up to the excellent wines in the area.
It would be well worth your while to take a 20 minute drive South to Juanita for dinner at Cafe Juanita, Holly Smith's James Beard-nominated excellent Italian restaurant. Some of my best meals have been in that dining room.
The Herbfarm's dining room is getting very dated, and the whole 'shpeel' at the beginning is old once you have heard it once, but the food is still fresh, inventive, garden/seasonal/locally driven, and the wines are superb.
You will enjoy it, I am sure.
Dee is on record as hating Italianissimo, but I think it's terrific, as do many others on this board. Big Fish Grill is another very good addition to the Woodinville dining scene and is worth checking out -- stick with the fresh specials, particularly the salmon if available on the fresh sheet. Forecaster's Pub at Redhook brewery is just reopened after a long renovation and is decent with some great beers if not home to spectacular food.
While the Herbfarm is indeed showing its age, if you haven't yet been there it is an experience not to be missed. It's costly and you should definitely check out their website to make sure what they're featuring your week is something you like.
Thanks for all the suggestions--very helpful. I am still a little torn on Herbfarm and--even though we both love salmon--I'm a little intimidated by a strictly-salmon menu. Has anyone done Salmon Nation?