14580 NE 145th Street
Woodinville WA 98072
Peeking From Herbfarm's Shadows is Barking Frog
By: Steve G
Woof-Ribbit!? Thats my first impression upon hearing the name Barking Frog. To recall an old South Park episode, No, I think its a half-dog, half-frog. Wait! Its more like a half-frog, half-dog. I'm sorry, I digress.
Barking Frog is in a rather hidden location near the Willows Lodge. Designed as a cabin or hunting lodge with all of the comforts and none of the hardships, it looks quite casual and comfy. The most eye-stealing fixtures are the large gas fireplace and something I came to think of as the vault. Fashioned with a heavy door that looks like it could only be cracked by Ethan Hunt and his handpicked IMF team, it contained wall-to-wall wine bottles. Amazed, we took a deep breath and knocked ourselves back to reality. Its winery, of course they have a lot of wine.
On the menu, Barking Frog offers up Northwest by the numbers typical seafood appetizers and entrees with a few game dishes to add some variety. Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, Barking Frog has some great choices for those on a wine tasting adventure. Their 18-page wine list is vast, ranging from local wineries, as well as overseas.
The Popcorn Maine Lobster ($19.00) was a delicious appetizer, though the serving dish it came in did not look so appealing. For a brief second, we thought we entered KFC as the lobster came served in its own deep fryer basket. Very light and moist, the lobster was the star of the show. Moist and tender with a lot of flavor, it didn't suffer from an excess of batter. After engorging ourselves on it, only one thing came to mind: Can we have seconds, please? Of course, the $19 price tag made us think twice about actually doing it.
In contrast, the Smoky Lobster Bisque ($13.00) didn't particularly stand out in any way. Served with a few drizzles of cognac creme, it had a taste and texture similar to heavy cream. Strangely enough, the taste of lobster was subtle and almost absent. It would have helped to have a more pungent cheese or bits of minced lobster to bring out the flavor. The smoky and bisque flavor was there, but the lobster barely made an appearance.
The Steak Tartare ($14.00) was served with gherkins (cucumbers), red wine marinated onions and a cup of thin cut French fries. For those unfamiliar with the term, tartare is steak that is finely chopped and served rare. The seasoning and spices in the meat gave it a really fresh and festive taste, very similar to a meaty pico de gallo taste. A great starter for true carnivores, but those with less of a taste for meat might elect to try something else.
The Chicken Confit ($28.00) started off like the first big drop of a roller coaster; it created a big feeling of anticipation but quickly plummeted. As the plate came to the table, the aroma was almost intoxicating. Just looking at the plate our mouths began to salivate at the thought of the flavor explosion in store for us. The first initial bites were great, packed full of herbs and seasoning. But as you got deeper into the chicken, the flavor drastically faded away leaving nothing but chicken that felt slightly dry and a little bland. Thankfully, there was a small serving of sauce that worked as a glaze, which helped add some flavor to it. The roasted squash was stuffed with kale that tasted very bright and sharp that cleansed our palettes for the next bite of chicken.
Though large in size, the Seared Sea Scallops seemed mild in taste. The broth that the scallops were soaked in tasted watery with Tuscan beans giving it a slight hint of flavor. With a little bit of salt and some parsley, the scallops didn't seem quite flavorful. Bacon was mentioned on the menu, but we didn't get reminded of it until we ran into a very small piece.
The Elk Tenderloin was served with beluga lentils, Brussels sprouts, and crispy smoked bacon. The most interesting side for the dish was the goat milk latte. Almost like a dipping sauce (some people prefer to pour it over the dish), the latte delivered a smooth taste to the meat. Rich and lean, the meat was very gamey with plenty of moisture except for the seared outside. The staff recommended that the meat be cooked on the rare side for a better experience, though we cant imagine the day when we would order meat bloody. We elected to go with medium rare and it turned out fabulous.
The desserts we ordered were a bit of hit and miss. The Chocolate Espresso Mousse was quite different from our expectations. The texture and thickness of the chocolate was more akin to a brownie. When the dish was served, we were expecting it to look more like mousse that is sold by Bill Cosby, but instead this looked quite different. It was sandwiched being two pieces of thin chocolate, almost looking like a brownie sandwich. It was a little bittersweet rather than excessively sweet, which was perfect for me.
The Bread and Butter Pudding was the best part of the meal for one of our reviewers. Most of the time, bread pudding is served looking like a droopy cinnamon roll that just lost all of its chips in a no-limit hold em game in Vegas, but Barking Frogs bread pudding looked very fluffy and firm. Barking Frogs petite version came out garnished with just the right amount of caramel and a strong layer of brandy some lightweight drinkers might be taken aback from its potency.
Based on the prices and the atmosphere, it appears that high-end clientele seems to be the intended audience, with lots of options for wine and a few adventurous high-priced entree items. For dates or special occasions, Barking Frog might be a great choice, but other than that, you are paying quite the premium for standard fare.