Just across the lake from Seattle, a charming little town called Kirkland twinkles, especially at this festive time of year. A laid-back waterfront destination on the shores of Lake Washington, the town attracts business people flocking to Eastside companies and firms, as well as local folks who simply seek a relaxing staycation close to home.
Visitors from near and far enjoy a tranquil retreat at Heathman Hotel — Photo courtesy of Heathman Hotel
The four-story, 91-room Heathman Hotel – which will soon undergo a $2.5 million renovation – boasts 15 suites (many with small balconies), a sleek fitness center (in a sophisticated basement space, formerly the hotel spa), a rotating art gallery that showcases local talents' pieces and an inviting lobby boasting a cozy fireplace.
Around the holidays, be sure to check out the chef's gingerbread masterpiece in the festive entryway; this year's creation shows off a colossal Noah's Ark, chock-full of sugar-laden animal cookies.
At Trellis, the adjoining restaurant that's been named one of America's "Top 10 Farm to Table Restaurants," the menu has been crafted to celebrate the land of the region. Dishes center around freshly-harvested ingredients from Executive Chef Brian Scheehser's 18 acres of Woodinville farmland as well as hand-raised livestock and freshly-caught seafood.
Brian's harvest includes treasures like heirloom tomatoes, winter squash, beets, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, celery root, leeks, corn, potatoes, sweet peas, beans, assorted berries and a large variety of tree fruit. During the summer growing season, the restaurant even serves a "Two Hour Salad" with ingredients picked that day.
"Immersing myself in the earth has given me an understanding of food's inherent flavor and texture," says Chef Scheehser, who merges robust local flavors and his rustic cooking style. "The growing process amazes me, and I enjoy the art of coaxing out the earthy, natural attributes of fresh produce using the simplest culinary techniques."
Guests dine outside year-round on this inviting patio — Photo courtesy of Heathman Hotel
The restaurant's dining room boasts dark, warm hues and a sleek, simple decor, while the outdoor patio proves a popular hangout any time of year, thanks to overhead heaters and industrial-strength insulation "windows." Other draws includes the restaurant's expansive, locally-focused wine menu, which impressively lists more than 200 labels from Washington, Oregon and California, as well as classic selections from around the globe.
Trellis diners savor innovative, field-to-fork fare made from organic ingredients at their seasonal peak, and dishes are often described with adjectives like "fresh" and "simple" with "playful twists." Guests enjoy tasty touches like kalamata olive butter that accompanies freshly-baked dinner rolls.
Stand-out dishes include the mushroom soup with truffle oil, flatbread pear and gorgonzola flatbread topped with pear, domestic prosciutto and citrus endive, plus the beet salad with orange segments, frisée and citrus vinaigrette.
When it comes to selecting mains, try the hanging tender steak with roasted root vegetables and tomato-tarragon essence, the salmon with baked apples, the sausage and prawns tagliatelle (with house-made Pomodoro sauce) or the pan-seared rainbow trout, served with zucchini and oven-dried tomatoes.
Guests savor tasty fare at any time of day, like this brioche French toast — Photo courtesy of Heathman Hotel
For the grand finale, dig into decadent desserts like the profiteroles (creampuffs with honey rosemary ice cream and chocolate sauce), the Decadent Warm Chocolate Cake or a plate of not-too-sweet cookies made from peanut butter or cocoa nibs (and served with chocolate sauce, too). For a lighter option, dive into the Lemon Sage Flan, served with candied lemon zest and sage syrup.
Heathman and Trellis sit near other local gems like the Kirkland Performance Center; Bottle and Bull which features an Ernest Hemginway-inspired menu of creative cuisine and craft cocktails; Lady Yum, popular for its macarons and sparkling wine treats; and Flatstick Pub, a great spot for snacks, draft beers and rounds of indoor mini-golf.