Tips & Trends
Good Food, Drink, and Company
Jonathan Swift said “He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.” Today those odd little mollusks are appetizers at all manner of gatherings, from couples to corporations. Culinary enjoyment is the great common denominator among people, and dining out is a ubiquitous symbol of appreciation, whether you are wooing a spouse or a sponsor. Corporate meetings are often held around food, and it doesn’t have to be a box of donuts in the middle of the table. Elegant eateries abound in the Northwest, and they offer a quality venue for hammering out details while hammering on crab shells.
Choosing a restaurant can be a daunting task, however, and it is important to ensure that the setting matches the discussion. If you are proposing to share the rest of your days with your sweetheart, a cozy white-linen ristorante may be best. If you are proposing to share the rest of your market with competitors, you may need a conference room. And perhaps an open bar. Whatever the need, the following establishments are excellent choices when looking to wine and dine clients, employees, or executives.
Puget Sound Area
Chef John Howie creates a superb steakhouse experience at the John Howie Steak restaurant. Being a premier steakhouse, JHS also features a wine list handpicked by a wine director and approved by a house sommelier. Not enough to have hand-picked wines presented at your table? JHS provides personal wine service, allowing you to have your own personal wines stored, selected, and retrieved for you on site. With two private rooms, superb steak, a view of the Cascades, and audio-visual capabilities, John Howie Steak offers an extremely sophisticated space for high-value VIP events.
Another John Howie property, the Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar is a magnificent venue in Bellevue. Seastar was created to specifically specialize in elite event hosting and only the freshest seasonal fish and produce are served, the sushi bar selections will melt in your mouth. Four dining rooms offer elegance and exclusivity for 12-200 people, with enormous slate fireplaces and soaring four story glass atriums.
McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood and Steaks has a solid reputation for fresh local seafood across the United States. These restaurants are also known for their bar food and happy hours, where even the cocktails are fresh, made with hand-squeezed juices. Seattle boasts two locations, M&S Harborside on Lake Union and M&S Bellevue in upscale Lincoln Square. McCormick & Schmick’s Harborside on Lake Union has four private rooms and a lofty balcony with a stunning view of lakeside marinas, the skyline, and the Space Needle. The Bellevue locale has one private room and offers blocks of elegant shopping and activities. With over a dozen locations along the West Coast, McCormick’s and Schmick’s make excellent venues for private sit-down meetings or for vibrant stand-up revelry.
When stylish Seattle dining is mentioned, Palisade is at the top of the list. A phenomenal restaurant with chic accents, beautiful glass, and breathtaking views of the Puget Sound and Elliot Bay Marina. Palisade has been an affordable luxury dining experience for 25 years. Events are hosted in three rooms, the largest separated from the main dining and sporting a projector, private bar, and space for 130-225 guests to enjoy a three course meal. Charcuterie and artisan cheeses, a raw bar, endless mimosas, and a true gourmet menu make this an unbeatable location for any event.
Since 2011, The Fireside restaurant at Port Ludlow Resort has won at least one award every year. The chef and staff here have created a menu that is home to fresh foods, local flavors, and a Washington State Wine Grand Award winning wine program. With golf and sailing a step away, the atmosphere of The Fireside is pure country club sophistication. Host a small relaxed event in a cozy private room, with a menu designed from the choices at The Fireside’s kitchen.
Ray’s Boathouse and Café claims to have the best private waterfront banquet room in Seattle, and it is hard to argue with that assertion. Located on the shores of Shilshole Bay in historic Ballard, Ray’s event catering has been committed to excellence for more than 40 years. Ballard is home to many fish markets, as this is where the sea’s catch enters Seattle each morning. Ray’s capitalizes on this, offering seasonal, sustainable seafood choices year round. This, combined with a striking view of the Olympic mountains, Puget Sound, and whale migrations, gives Ray’s Boathouse the ambience that draws wedding party after wedding party.
When hosting in the San Juan Islands, there are many beautiful views from which to choose. Few will match the waterfront spectacle laid out before The Mansion Restaurant at Rosario Resort. It was built 115 years ago as the retirement home of Robert Moran, a magnate of early Seattle industry, and the grandeur of this venue cannot be overstated. This historic venue can accommodate mid-sized parties in the restaurant itself or in the private Orcas room. The Beachhouse Center is available for waterfront gatherings up to 250, with 6,000 square feet of space and lush lawns. The restaurant houses a museum, a wood panel opulent lounge, and farm-to-table dining to bring a taste of the San Juans to your event.
Stanley & Seafort’s Steak, Chop, & Fish House serves well-priced fish, steak, and pasta above a gorgeous view of Tacoma and its handsome bridges. Classy yet accessible, the restaurant offers cordoned private dining with a deck and cocktails for up to 25 guests. Come at night to take advantage of the absolutely unmatched display of city lights before the waterways of Tacoma’s South Puget Sound.
Longevity is the focus at Blu Sardinia, named for the Mediterranean island home to some of the longest lived people on Earth. The restaurant serves modern takes on Italian dishes, focusing heavily on ingredient quality and thematic adherence to the life and mind boosting power of the Mediterranean diet. Family and group friendly, there is one private room for eating events in their otherwise open-design dining space. Indeed, communal dining is emphasized at Blu Sardinia, and the shared wood-fired pizzas will bring any group together.
Experience banquet dining as lived by the Puget Sound Native Americans at Tillicum Village on Blake Island. This popular tourist destination is a hit with Seattleites as well, serving as a frequent destination for school events, tours, and novel company retreats. Argosy Tours provides a narrated voyage to and from the island, with complimentary photos of your group at boarding. Food is prepared and served in traditional manners, with whole fish roasted over open alder wood fires, wild rice and greens, and live stage performance.
The Northwest tradition of fresh, local, seasonal ingredients is the central tenet of Chef Russell Lowell’s Restaurant, Russell’s Dining Room. Situated in a remodeled 1927 barn in Bothell, Washington, the master chef strives to make every dish a memory, artistic upon the eye and the palate alike. A pair of semi-private rooms off the main dining room accommodates smaller groups, while cathedral ceilings, cedar walls, and a refinished original fir floor sets the scene for a gathering held in The Loft, the restaurant’s aptly named event venue.
When finding venues to host events and conventions, it really is hard to beat a casino. They possess a certain air of excess, and Tulalip Resort & Casino excels at this in the dining domain. No fewer than six restaurants grace this Seattle satellite, offering refined dining at Blackfish, beers and burgers at The Draft, or traditional area cuisine at Cedars Café. And what is a casino without a buffet? With media equipped rooms, full stages, a ballroom, and 30,000 square feet of facilities dedicated to events, Tulalip Resort & Casino can’t be topped as a solution to immense sized events. Whether a party of five or a conference of a thousand, every detail is orchestrated by seasoned professionals.
Fireweed Terrace is the culinary heart of the championship-quality public golf course, Eaglemont. This restaurant serves New American plates in a casual environment. Rib-eye sandwiches and Idaho trout fall along-side surf-turf-pub fusion. Fireweed Terrace creates the menus for the banquet halls, meeting rooms, and conference halls found throughout the scenic 18 holes. There is even a conference space for up to 150 people under the 19th hole, the Clubhouse.
Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine, Washington, has a unique name and a one-of-a-kind restaurant to go with it. Pierside Kitchen is a dining location and school, where Chef Bruno Feldeisen serves and instructs interested guests. On the border of Canada and practically floating on the open sea, Pierside and Semiahmoo offer outstanding views and international accessibility. An oyster bar and a bar-food grill also grace the venue, adding more eating options to any gathering at the resort.
The Cedar Ridge Grill in Kingston feeds the magnificent Whitehorse Golf Club, a picturesque and sprawling 18 holes through 456 acres of old-growth cedar, spruce, fir, and hemlock. Meetings and conferences are flawlessly executed by the specialists at Whitehorse. The Cedar Ridge Grill lets you take it outside, with a patio and two fire pits, allowing for an indoor or outdoor event in a spectacular setting. After the event attendees can take a short scenic drive for an evening of entertainment at Clearwater Resort & Casino.
Gardens, gazebos, and gorgeous landscapes set the Willows Lodge apart from its competitors, as does the name and cuisine of its esteemed restaurant, Barking Frog. Located in the Washington wine country of Woodinville, Barking Frog has a comprehensive wine list featuring the Northwest’s best vintages. The food is unassuming yet beautiful, and the menu is hand-picked around the contents of the award-winning cellar. There is no pretense to the casual dining experience and there is no matching the accessible bottles gracing every wall and alcove. Barking Frog is a great destination for a relaxed meeting of people who know and love their food and wine.
C’est si Bon graces Port Angeles, where Michéle and Norbert Juhasz have been working together to bring authentic French dining to Washington for over thirty years. Michéle performs in the kitchen, creating gastronomical delights such as Cornish game hen and filet mignon with Dungeness crab. Freshly picked salads accompany every dish at the fantastique restaurant, as they source locally and seasonally and are proud of it. Banquets and large events are especially cared for under the glass domed ceiling of their solarium. C’est si Bon is a marvel to the senses and jewel among memories.
In the heart of historic Snohomish lies the Cabbage Patch Restaurant and Catering. Named “Best Catering in Western Washington” by King 5 News and Evening Magazine, “The Patch” is more than just great food delivered—it is an antique-filled tradition that has grown continuously for 40 years. Since its inception as a small bakery in an ancient house, the Cabbage Patch has grown to include a fireside lounge, two banquet rooms, and a paranormal history. Fans of oysters, prime rib, and ghost stories should hold any big event at this refreshing breath of old air. Keep an eye out for the girl in the window.
Fresh Bistro brings dishes from around the world to a hip, up-and-coming nexus in West Seattle. A local favorite for brunch, dinner, and happy hour, the microbrews and multi-national plates keep the flavors fresh. A full restaurant buy-out can provide a tastefully trendy feast, fitting since the establishment is the dining home of Herban Feast Catering. Large groups can bring the flat iron pork and lamb-burgers to any locale in Seattle, and don’t forget the homemade butterscotch banana pudding. Fresh Bistro is about great food served with a glass of beer or wine, whether on a lunchbreak or a company luncheon.
The Oyster & Thistle sits on a hill overlooking quaint downtown La Conner, home to loggers, fishermen, farmers, and the amazing spring Tulip Festival. Wineries, breweries, golf, and fishing boats set the scene for a rugged and beautiful sample of the Northwest outdoors’ best. The Oyster & Thistle serves as pub and restaurant for the breathtaking Channel Lodge, and the hard-working hosts can unfold a grand affair or throw a great party. Getaways and retreats to the gorgeous Puget Sound must include this tiny, spirited hamlet and the delicacies at The Oyster & Thistle.
McMenamins Anderson School makes going back to school a blast! The urban resort is located in downtown Bothell, on the revamped grounds of a closed junior high school. No cafeteria food here—with three restaurants and three pubs, schoolroom dining has never been tastier! The location is just one of many McMenamins get-aways throughout Oregon and Washington since 1983. A variety of onsite activities include swimming pools, movie theater, and classrooms-turned-hotel rooms. Wine, spirits, brewery sensations, and good old coffee are in evidence at every turn, meaning that any event held at this rockin’ school will be livelier than a pep rally at game time.
Central & Eastern Washington
The Pub and Veranda at Campbell’s Resort in Chelan offers upscale dining with emphasis on organic food and regional wine. Campbell’s focuses on the sourcing values of the Northwest: organic, local, and high quality. Ingredients come straight from Campbell’s own organic garden, and their wine list has won Wine Press Northwest’s “Best Washington Wine List” 10 years in a row. The Pub and Veranda showcases the history of Chelan in photos on the walls, and their formal, private dining option is located in an actual piece of history—the 115-year-old Campbell Hotel.
Canyon River Ranch is a terrific setting for a big gathering. Large private groups are hosted in the main lodge’s boardroom and library, with the Canyon River Grill serving up banquet catering. Food is surf and turf style, in keeping with the hunting and fishing atmosphere. In warm summer months, group sizes climb upwards of 200 as Canyon River Ranch’s decks and patios open up to views of the Yakima river. After the meeting Reds Fly Shop can take your group on a guided fly fishing outing on the only Blue Ribbon trout stream in Washington State.
Whether you need a restaurant or just need food, The Country Gentleman Restaurant and Catering will provide. A generational family-owned business in Kennewick, Washington, The Country Gentleman has a long-standing reputation for delicious American comfort food and five-star service. Women in Business award winner Shirley Simmons and her corps of catering professionals can bring white linen and red wine to any group venue, or they will be delighted to serve in one of the restaurant’s spacious private rooms. The wine list showcases only Washington vintages and food is locally sourced. It is the outstanding personal service, though, that makes one feel like a true country gentleman.
Located in picturesque Leavenworth, the Icicle Village Resort and its JJ Hills Fresh Grill offer amazing scenery and authentic German food. The restaurant features views of the Tumwater Canyon and historical successes of the Great Northern railroad’s tycoon, JJ Hill. Reserve tables in the grill itself or book with Icicle Village Resort for a banquet room, BBQ lawn, or ballroom for any degree of formality and group size. Private train car not required.
Beaver Creek Lodge is the rustic dining establishment of the Mountain Springs Lodge. Mountain views and hot tubs on every cabin porch demonstrate the rugged quality of this venue, perfect for long dining events where guests will want to stretch their legs and take in the sights. Beaver Creek Lodge has a single large dining room divided in half by beautiful Douglas Fir paneling and a central fireplace. Privacy is guaranteed whether the whole restaurant is reserved or only half, and the lodge coordinators will customize meals to your group. For peace-and-quiet dining, this place can’t be beat.
The Marcus Whitman Hotel and Conference Center stands proudly over Walla Walla, the jewel of southeast Washington. The hotel’s restaurant, The Marc, serves a variety of black-tie eligible dishes and was recently awarded “Restaurant of the Year” by the Washington Wine Commission. Chefs combine local farm fresh food with greens grown in their rooftop garden, running a canning operation as well to allow organic produce to be used out of season. In addition to The Marc and connections to local vineyards, The Whitman offers a unique group experience for the hungry. Designed for four to twelve guests, the Chef’s Table offers the opportunity to dine in the kitchen, to a menu prepared specifically for you and your group. This is an excellent way to ensure a memorable stay in the rustically beautiful town.
Rockwater Secret Cove Resort has gained a strong reputation for dining excellence, thanks to the efforts of the chefs at Oceanview Restaurant. The restaurant provides a stunning view of the Malaspina Strait, creating an atmosphere of relaxation and rejuvenation. The dining areas have been recently renovated and are well equipped to host a variety of events, with new A/V, lights, and karaoke. The iconic symbol of Rockwater is their tenthouse accommodations, which add a flair of escapist fun to events. Finally, if you wish to test an old proverb, the resort can arrange fishing trips for you to catch your own dinner. The Oceanview’s chefs will cook it however you like.
Noah’s Canteen at Silver Mountain Lodge is a fun-filled spot for dining and get-togethers. Silver Mountain is a year-round alpine resort near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, packed with all that nature has to offer—including warm firesides and hot food. Small events can be held in the Canteen, and larger ones can be catered at one of Silver Mountain’s 11 meeting and conference rooms. Banquet, wedding, and retreat groups up to 300 can be fed and entertained at one of the highest ranked amusement resorts in the Northwest.