Beyond the Plate: The Herbfarm Experience

Photo Courtesy of The Herbfarm

Woodinville, Washington

The culinary masterminds at the acclaimed Woodinville restaurant, The Herbfarm, don’t just serve amazing food, they curate a dining event that goes well beyond the plate. The restaurant has been repeatedly scrutinized by the most demanding gastronomes. Influential critics, before whom master chefs would quake in their clogs, have glorified it. It has garnered top awards, from James Beard’s Best American Chef Northwest to AAA’s Five-Diamond rating, and has produced a steady stream of chefs who have gone on to forge their own culinary futures.

The entire dining experience at The Herbfarm is so distinctive, so seductive, that many guests return year after year, and the truly devoted, month after month.

What’s the secret ingredient to the Herbfarm’s success? Actually, many ingredients make up the recipe, and the recipe isn’t a simple one. Start with the palpable passion of owners Ron Zimmerman and Carrie Van Dyck, who together started The Herbfarm in 1986 at its original location on an herb farm. Add the current setting in Woodinville on the grounds of the acclaimed Willows Lodge; the Herbfarm’s building, inside and out, harbors the cozy charm of a French country restaurant. Next, add a warm welcome by staff, as if you’ve been invited into someone’s home. Mix in chefs with serious dedication to their craft and a commitment to sourcing the best local, seasonal ingredients. Liberally stir in a leisurely pace in the dining room where guests can choose to be seated with other diners for camaraderie or by themselves for a more intimate experience; guests can even take a break between courses to visit Borage and Basil, the resident pigs, in the garden. Add live musical accompaniment by virtuoso guitarist Patricio Contreras. And, finally, add the most important ingredients: the food, each course a delight for the senses, and wines from one of the country’s most enviably stocked cellars (which guests can tour before dinner).

When it comes to the food, The Herbfarm chefs, with Zimmerman at the helm as culinary director, are intimately familiar with where to find the best local ingredients. Seasonality is a crucial component: The nine-course dinners with wine pairings are seasonally thematic and change at least monthly. The themes this spring (2018) highlight Northwest bounty from salmon to foraged wild ingredients to wagyu beef and so much more. For diners, part of the satisfaction of dining at The Herbfarm is knowing that they’re supporting Northwest farmers, ranchers, fishers, dairies and wineries.

Even with that complicated recipe, Zimmerman and Van Dyck somehow manage to deliver a guest experience that is unpretentious, genuinely warm and anything but stuffy. They are masters of hospitality. Find them online at

The Herbfarm Suites
For a more immersive (and romantic) experience, reserve one of the
two Herbfarm Suites at Willows Lodge. Decked out in French country
décor with luxury amenities and balconies overlooking The Herbfarm’s
gardens, a stay there will make the night even more extraordinary.