Barking Frog

Written by on October 24, 2010 in I Eat Seattle, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Woodinville
How I heard of this place: Several years ago, when I first learned of Dine Around Seattle month, Barking Frog was on the list and I began to hear good reviews. It warranted the short road-trip over and the food was completely worth it! On that occasion, I dined with my friend Tahirih and her colleague, the food critic for the Seattle PI.
Type of cuisine: This season, the menu speaks to the comfort of home, the tastes of grandma’s house and true American cuisine with a Northwest spin. “The Barking Frog restaurant is truly a destination all its own. One of the most highly regarded restaurants in the Northwest, Barking Frog excels in American regional cuisine with Pacific Northwest influences. Like pan roasted sea scallops with confit chicken hash – need we say more! Or try the truffled macaroni & cheese. (The first bite is an eye-closer.) We’re also known for our phenomenal wine list, the majority of which features Washington wines. (We even offer some rare wines most restaurants don’t have.) In fact, we were awarded “Most Innovative Wine List” by the Washington Wine Commission, and received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence five years in a row.”
Ambiance: The ambiance whispers sophistication, comfort and ease in a lodge-like setting of warm, fall hues and a large fireplace set askew at a thick stone table. Large, fabric lanterns hang in the space closest to the kitchen, where the clanging of dishes can be heard over the sound of the jazz music setting the stage for a relaxed and enjoyable dinner. Windows line the length of the front of the space, bench-seating stretching across the bottom pane of the window. This opens onto the floor with tables and chairs set in front. The bar area is somewhat strangely located, but when you enter the space, the music is louder and the clarity of tones more readily heard, making it a surprisingly comfortable and easy-going wine tasting bar. “The warm and bistro-like restaurant embodies the same rustic and refined feel of the Willows Lodge. On colder days, guests gather at the circular table around a fireplace. In the summer, our patio is bursting with activity, lively with laughter and the sounds of wine glasses clinking.”
What I ordered: Our meal began with rosemary bread dusted with sea salt and a tomato with roasted caper puree. Of the four of us dining at Barking Frog on this stormy, rainy October night, I was the least decisive! The first to order had more time to study the menu (having arrived earlier than the rest of us) and knew exactly what she would have when the waiter arrived at our tableside. To start, she selected the Grand Marnier prawn, three, served alongside mixed greens in a lemongrass vinaigrette. For her main entree, she ordered the seared ahi served over a cucumber and radish quinoa with cherry tomatoes and an avocado tomatillo verde with mango confit and candied chiles. For dessert, she selected the rosemary chocolate flourless cake topped with a Marsala chantilly and frosted pine nuts. To her right an order was placed for the rocket lettuce salad piled over two slices of Zoe’s prosciutto and two carpaccio-thin slices of persimmon, dusted with shaved Pecorino and a white truffle vinaigrette; the braised boneless short ribs served over a celery root puree with fresh horseradish, pickled celery and micro celery; selecting the vanilla bean creme brulee with fresh berries and a cocoa pecan cookie to complete the palate. On my left, our sole male dining companion ordered the rocket lettuce salad to start, the chicken leg confit with Italian parsley spatzle and braised sawy cabbage in a light honey mustard beurre blanc. To end his meal, he ordered one of the three housemade sorbets: blood orange (other options included strawberry and passion fruit). My turn came quicker than I had made any decisions. I knew that I had to have the creamy cauliflower soup, decorated with a fennel pollen cracker to start. For one, no one else had ordered it. For two, it was cold outside. For three, it was creamy cauliflower soup! The table requested a second rosemary chocolate flourless cake, so we skipped ahead to place that order. I left my main entree to the chef and server and was pleasantly surprised at the beauty, delicacy and freshness of the seared ahi.
What I loved: The table favorite, when it came to the main course, was the seared ahi dish. Although it was served cold or at room temperature, the hint of spice, the quality of the tuna and the flavors present in the quinoa and avocado salsa combined well for a most pleasing and savored quality on the tongue. The appetizers were all three so balanced, perfectly flavored and amazingly prepared that it was hard to come up with a sole winner. Each could be enjoyed over and over again and would continue to dazzle and impress each of us. The light, yet flavorful, full-bodied, homemade blood orange sorbet was the winning dessert of the night. The creme-brulee taking second, with its thick sugar crust and fresh berries. The texture of the cake was nice, creamy, moist and the frosted pine nuts a surprisingly buttery and sweet confection. The rosemary flavor was our least favorite part of the desserts at the table; although everything was so stellar that the least favorite is still a long way from the bottom by any stretch of the means.
Why I loved it: I love the restaurant for many reasons, despite its proximity to the city: the food, the relaxed and relaxing atmosphere, the friendly and accommodating staff, just to name a few. I found I love it more in the process of this writing, and finding how the name came to be; more specifically, the chef’s take on it: “People ask us why the restaurant is called the Barking Frog. The name comes from the Native American storytellers use of the Frog as a symbol of wealth or abundance. When the frogs are barking, it is a sign of peace and harmony in nature. At the entryway of the dining room, a Robert Davidson bronze Haida sculpture emphatically greets guests. However, Chef Bobby has his own interpretation. He says that when frogs are croaking, they’re happy, and that’s how he wants his customers to feel. We’re pretty sure he’s hit the mark.”
Cost: During Restaurant Week, average ($25 for a three course meal); at other times high ($28-$46 per dinner entree)

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