IPA Magazine-Luxury Travel Reviews

Barking Frog Bistro: Culinary Elegance and Sommelier Superiority

Located beside the Willows Lodge is Woodinville’s highly acclaimed Barking Frog Bistro, known for its talented culinary team of chefs and a talented Wine Director/Sommelier. The popular venue features innovative seasonal menus and an award-winning cellar of Northwest and global wines.

Executive Chef Bobby Moore brings a mastery of both modern and classical techniques.  Bobby and his team, featuring Chef de Cuisine Chris Smith and Pastry Chef Matt Kelley, consistently prepare fresh and tasty dishes, using local ingredients native to Woodinville and Washington State.

Wine Director Cara DeLavallade greeted us in the lobby and escorted us to our table.  Perhaps the greatest reason to dine here is to personally meet one of the foremost experts in wine in the Pacific Northwest.  Cara is an Advanced Sommelier, having passed the three-day, Advanced Sommelier Exam by the Court of Master Sommeliers and thereby adding her name to an elite list.  The Advanced Sommelier exam is the third in a series of four increasingly challenging tests of knowledge and skill offered by the Court. By the time candidates reach the Advanced Examination, most have already invested years of study, in addition to significant time working in and around the beverage industry.  Every year, thousands of wine service professionals attempt the Court’s exams, however, only the distinguished manage to pass.

One of the best ways to appreciate the rigors of testing for candidates is to view the 2012 Documentary movie, “Somm.”  Directed by Jason Wise, the movie focuses on four sommeliers who attempt to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world.  Seeing this movie and learning of the passion of these men and women is truly inspiring.  The more we learned about what it takes to become a “somm,” the more we were impressed at the expertise of our sommelier at The Barking Frog.

The Court of Master Sommeliers was established in England in 1977 to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants. The first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam to be held in the United States was in 1987. The title Master Sommelier marks the highest recognition of wine and spirits knowledge, beverage service abilities, and professionalism in the hospitality trade. Education was then, and remains today, the Court’s charter. There are four stages involved in attaining the top qualifications of Master Sommelier: 1) Introductory Sommelier Course; 2) Certified Sommelier Exam; 3) Advanced Sommelier Course; and 4) Master Sommelier Diploma. Today there are 149 professionals who have earned the title of Master Sommelier as part of the Americas chapter since the organization’s inception. Of those, 125 are men and 24 are women. There are 236 professionals worldwide who have received the title of Master Sommelier since the first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam.

In addition to this esteemed certification, Ms DeLavallade holds a French Wine Scholar certification and an Advanced Certification through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. She has mastered her skills over the years from her experience abroad: from working in Argentina as a Sommelier at Azafran Restaurante and a Sommelier on board Silversea Cruises.

Once seated, we were graced with 2 glasses of Nicholas Feuillatte Brut Champagne from Epernay ($72).  The amuse bouche was a mini version of the grilled and marinated sardines found on the menu, served with Meyer lemon.

For this much anticipated dining experience, we opted for the à la carte tasting menu, consisting of four courses: From the Garden, From the Sea, From the Land, and Small Plates ($79) Tasting menus are a way to explore some of the very best a restaurant has to offer and we did not want to pass up this opportunity.  We asked Wine Director/Sommelier Cara pair wine selections for each of our courses.

For our first course, From the Garden, my wife chose the Beet Salad.  The sliced and cooked golden orange beets were served over a bed of arugula with strawberries, orange, sunflower seeds, goat cheese, strawberry-rhubarb vinaigrette, and balsamic gastrique.  The paired wine for this course was a 2015 Sparkman Birdie Riesling ($11/glass) from the Columbia Valley in Washington. This lovely dry wine was a touch fruity with white fruit (apple, pear) and notes of spice.  I chose the Squash and Beans, featuring summer squash, fava beans, red onion, scarlet runner beans, pepita and ricotta.  My paired wine was a North Italian white blend, a 2012 Schiopetto Blanc des Rosis ($14/glass). A blend of Friulano, Malvasia, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Ribolla Gialla, it has flavors of stone fruit, pear and almond.

Next came the “Small Plates” section.  My wife ordered the Braised Pork Belly served with carrot, cilantro, jalapeño, sweet peppers, Bibb lettuce, cippolini onions, peanuts, carrot top pistol, with honey-garlic aioli.  This was paired with a 2015 Laughing Pig Rose from Willamette Valley, Oregon, made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes by Big Table Farms.  This hefty rose ($72/ bottle) came in at 14.3% alcohol content. The Laughing Pig Rosé (only 480 cases produced) has notes of strawberry and spice on the nose. I ordered the Grilled Mediterranean Octopus served with Iberico chorizo, romanesco, marinated fennel, castelvetrano olives, pine nuts, and hazelnut Rome so.  This incredibly imaginative dish was paired with a 2005 R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Gravonia, from Rioja, consisting of 100% Viura grapes ($65 bottle).  Founded in 1877, R. Lopez de Heredia is among the oldest wine producers in Spain.

Our third course, “From the Sea,” began with my wife’s Washington King Salmon.  This was accompanied by summer Squash, baby artichokes, snap peas, green garlic, pea tendrils, and leek nage.  Her offering was paired with the 2013 Angela Estate Pinot Noir from Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon ($105).  Our sommelier used the Coravin wine device, drilling a wine needle through the cork, and then pouring wine into a glass.  As the pour is performed, the sommelier injects argon gas back into the bottle so that no oxygen enters to affect the contents.  Once the needle is removed, the cork reseals the bottle.  In this way future pours are guaranteed to be as fresh as the first.  The 34-acre Angela Estate vineyard consists of ancient marine sedimentary soils.  Owned by native South African wine producer Antony Beck, the winery was a gift to his wife Angela who, together, make excellent wines.  I ordered the Butter Poached Pacific Halibut.  This was served with fingerling potatoes, English peas, fava beans, spring onions, fennel, morels and herb pistou.  My dish was paired with a 2013 Britann Vineyards Chardonnay ($92 bottle). The nose of this Chardonnay presents notes of lemon curd, creamy toasty oak, golden delicious apple, and honeysuckle. Robert Brittany has been passionately crafting Chardonnay for over 35 years.

Finally, “From the Land,” my wife and I both opted for the two beef choices.  Other items within this section include Lamb Chops, Iberico Pork Lomo, and Buttermilk Brined Mad Hatcher Chicken.  We opted for an 8 oz Tenderloin and a 16 oz. Ribeye.  Both were served with egg yolk ravioli, asparagus, mushroom cream sauce, and demiglaze.  The tenderloin was paired with a 2014 Betz La Serenne Syrah from Yakima Valley (Boushey Vineyard, 14.7% alcohol, 93 points, $135/bottle) excellently crafted by Bob Betz, a master of wine. Betz started his 28-year career at Chateau St. Michelle in 1975, received his Master of Wine degree in 1998 (only one of 278 degree holders in the world), and was named Sunset Magazine’s Wine Maker of the Year in 2007. My excellent ribeye was paired with the 2012 Efesté EFESTĒ, (pronounced F-S-T, is an acronym for the winery’s original three founders: Ferrelli, Smith, and Taylor) “Big Papa” Cabernet Sauvignon from the Columbia Valley ($80 bottle), crafted by Canadian Peter Devison. This was a big wine with big flavors of dark fruit, lightly spicy, with a long, lingering finish.

Our delightful sever Kristin brought out the Barking Frog Dessert Menu, featuring six dessert options: Strawberry Rhubarb, Lime & Coconut, Caramel Chocolate, Crème Brûlée Du Jour, House-Made Ice Cream & Sorbets, and an Artisan Cheese Board.

My wife chose vanilla and coconut ice cream.  This was paired with the 2010 Alexander The Grape botrytized Semillon dessert wine from Red Mountain ($18/glass).  I ordered the Crème Brûlée made with cream cheese and served with carrot cake crumble.  My dessert was paired with a Chateau d’Orignac Pineau des Charentes ($12/glass) from Charentes, France (nv).

In all this was a spectacular, unforgettable dining experience featuring magnificent food and perfectly matched wine, served with extraordinary care and brilliant presentation. It has our highest recommendation!

* * *

Note:  Breakfast and lunch are also served here!  Since we were guests at The Willows Lodge, we dined at The Barking Frog for breakfast.  We began with sampling the bistro’s famous beignets served fresh and hot.  They’re tossed in powdered sugar and served with huckleberry cream cheese frosting.

My wife ordered crab cakes Benedict consisting of Dungeness crab cakes, poached eggs, chard, hollandaise, roasted potatoes and an English muffin.

I chose the Mt. Rainier breakfast:  Two local free-range eggs any style, and roasted potatoes.  Given the choices of ham, pork or chicken sausage, or apple smoked bacon, I chose the delightful bacon.  You also get choice of toast/English muffin/biscuit.

The portions are huge and delicious.  Breakfast at the Barking Frog is not to be missed!

The Barking Frog
14580 NE 145TH STREET


Breakfast – Monday through Friday 6:00AM to 10:30AM
Brunch – Saturday and Sunday 6:00AM to 2:30PM
Lunch – Monday through Friday 11:30AM to 2:30PM
Dinner – Monday through Sunday from 5:00PM to 10:00PM

PHONE – (425) 424-2999
Reservations are recommended, especially weekend brunch.



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