By Joe Kennedy
On a recent visit to Cedarbrook Lodge, an oasis boutique hotel and conference center just a stone’s throw away from Seattle Tacoma International Airport, we had the exquisite pleasure of a fine dining experience at Copperleaf Restaurant. My dining companion and I were very excited about dinner at Copperleaf because of all the great things we’d heard and read about their food, service and atmosphere. Little did we know that we were in for a real treat: A Menu Tasting – which turned out to be a very pleasant, 2 ½ hour dining experience.
We didn’t eat everything on the menu, but we tasted a lot of it. It was all very tasty, specially prepared with many local and sustainable ingredients in the farm to table tradition, and the presentation was incredible. The service was excellent – our server/guide was Peter, was very good about explaining different dishes and where the ingredients came from, while being very attentive to our needs while not hovering or getting in the way. He occasionally had help from the Wine Captain or another server to help deliver our plates in a synchronized fashion – very interesting and fun presentation (although I normally am used to ladies being served first).
Before I get into what we tasted and the local wines that were paired with them, I have to note that when Peter brought out the first course, which was a single boneless chicken wing (although perhaps the best wing I have ever had) – I thought that we might not get enough to eat of this fancy food. I could not have been more wrong. By the time the 2nd dessert came around, I was waving my white napkin in surrender and begging for someone to take me back to my room on a cart …
Back to the beginning. When we arrived for our reservation, we were greeted warmly and led to a nice table next to a fireplace, which helped provide great ambiance in this very unique restaurant. It is really set up like no other restaurant I can remember visiting. There were a small number of tables, with no more than 30 or 40 seats total and the kitchen was nowhere in sight.
Peter promptly came to introduce himself, bring us menus and pour some sparkling wine. Not long later he delivered our first course, the previously mentioned chicken wing – although far from a ‘normal’ wing. This boneless chicken wing was soaked in a duck sauce w parsnip, grilled and then lightly deep fried. Very tasty.
Next up were the thyme-infused dinner rolls from Wild Wheat Bakery in Kent. Apparently Copperleaf is the only place one can eat these particular rolls – although Wild Wheat does make many other types of artisan baked goods for many other customers.
When Peter brought out the next course, I wasn’t real excited – I’m not a big fan of scallops and frequently tell people I am allergic to them. I was feeling adventurous and was rewarded with the best tasting scallop I have ever had. The scallops served at Copperleaf are harvested around Victoria Island in British Columbia and was served on a truffled potato with a very tasty oyster bernaise sauce.
Served with the scallops was a glass of Covet Brut Reserve from Washington state, which we also enjoyed with the next course: cauliflower soup, a dish which is really becoming popular at Copperleaf. The cauliflower soup had a really nice flavor on its own and even better when combined with a bit of Bartlett pear, pine nuts and pickled red onion.
The next course for my dining companion was a honey glazed butternut squash, with brussel sprouts, toasted pecans and pomegranate brown butter, which was paired with a 2009 Elevation Cellars “Imperium” Reisling. I had the Snoqualmie Valley Heirloom Potato Salad, served with savoy cabbage, beets from the local and organic Full Circle Farms, with a black truffle vinaigrette and paired with a glass of 2010 Substance PG Pinot Gris – another Washington wine. While the squash was a big hit, I’m not a big potato salad fan, but I could definitely appreciate experiencing the natural flavors of the ingredients – instead of a sauce drowning them out.
Next up for my date were Hawaiian Blue Prawns, served with young turnips, Hen of the Woods mushrooms and a tarragon broth and paired with a 2008 Caterin Chardonnay. They looked very delicious and I had to hold myself back from nabbing one from her plate. I really wanted to, but it probably would not have been appropriate.
While the prawns were being enjoyed across the table, I was happily devouring a Makah Tribe Line Caught Steelhead Salmon, serve d with Granny Smith apples and creamed spinach, and paired with a 2010 Witness Tree “Chainsaw” Pinot Noir from Oregon. This was the only non-Washington wine of the evening.
Already getting close to full, next up for my dining companion were the Painted Hills Beef Short Ribs, served with glazed parsnips, truffle beet jam and carrots from Full Circle Farms and paired with a 2007 Terra Blanca “Red Mountain” Syrah 2007. For me it was the Grimaud Farm Guinea Hen, served with a licorice scented Bluebird Farm faro, chanterelles and Italian prunes and paired with a very delicious 2007Terra Blanca “Red Mountain” Syrah.
Almost to the end, I had Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream with toasted oats, and honey poached cranberries with a Parejos Late Harvest Pinot Gris, while my dining companion had the Bellweather Farms Fromage Blanc with toast pistachios, English thyme and lavender honey, paired with a Dunham Late Harvest Riesling.
Pretty much full to brim, and still trying to comprehend some of the many different flavors of the evening, to finish off this very special dining experience, Peter brought out a very decadent Theo’s Hot Chocolate Pot for Two with homemade cinnamon doughnuts. I am definitely ruined for any other type of hot chocolate – I have never tasted anything that comes close to Theo’s.
Our dining experience at Copperleaf Restaurant was an evening I will never forget, but I will make sure to get back soon for another Copperleaf experience of culinary delights from Chef Mark Bodinet, Peter and the rest of the Copperleaf crew. If you have not yet experienced Copperleaf, do it now, while it is still relatively easy to get reservations on most evenings.
Copperleaf Restaurant is part of the Cedarbrook Lodge, a hidden oasis in SeaTac, Washington and managed by The Coastal Hotel Group.