Business

New restaurant opens at Honey Farm

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SNOQUALMIE _ Aged Angus filet in the Valley? Butter-sautéed

lobster served with leeks and crimini mushrooms found on a menu

miles from Seattle?

Yes, it's true.

For Valley residents who've been craving another gourmet dining

option, listen up. The WildFlower restaurant is now open at the Honey

Farm Inn in Snoqualmie.

The inn has been remodeled over the past two years and now houses

the WildFlower in its cozy dining room with glowing golden walls and

lace curtains. The WildFlower quietly opened in October. For now, the

restaurant is only open for dinner and is the perfect place to spend a

romantic evening, celebrate a special accomplishment or just feast.

But before "fancy-food" skeptics run the other way, they should

check out the menu. And the prices. And the service.

Marque and Ioana Burbatt and Michael and Lisa Lee own the

restaurant and inn. The Burbatts focus more on the inn side off things,

while Michael Lee functions as the chef and Lisa Lee helps with a variety of

jobs, including serving tables.

Everyone in the partnership has the same goals: to pamper, satisfy,

entertain and dazzle guests.

"We do everything we can for people," Michael said.

The WildFlower seats 40 to 80 guests and is open to residents of

the Valley and beyond, along with those staying at the inn.

The restaurant's menu hosts a variety of seafood, aged steaks,

pork, chicken and pasta.

"What I do is an infusion of what Northwest cuisine is today,"

Michael said, adding that he believes that meals should be served in hearty

portions, and displayed beautifully to make the dining experience complete.

Asian, French and Southwestern flavors and cooking methods are

combined with local delicacies such as salmon, mushrooms and local

wild greens. Michael even harvests blackberries and plums from the

Honey Farm property to make sauces and chutneys.

He uses local products and purveyors as much as possible —

George's Bakery in North Bend supplies all pastries and breads for

the WildFlower.

"There are all kinds of influences in the menu," Michael explained.

"I've created the menu to be like the Space Needle meets Red Robin."

By that statement, he means that he tries to provide delicious food

without the "stuffy attitude" found in

some gourmet restaurants.

"I try to present an elegant atmosphere, but cater to a huge variety

of people without being pretentious or snooty," he said.

Michael has worked in the culinary field for 20 years. He started

flipping burgers as a kid, then apprenticed in San Francisco, where his two

brothers are chefs, then in Seattle. Lee's work history is diverse and

includes the Fountain Court, the Salish Lodge and the restaurant at Ken's

Trucktown. Before settling in the Valley again, Michael worked at the Cliff House

in Tacoma — at the east end of Highway 18.

The WildFlower's menu fare reveals several appetizers,

including Dungeness crab-stuffed prawns, grilled portabella mushrooms

with gorgonzola cheese and other tasty beginnings. Prices start at $6.95.

There's a crab/potato soup and a soup du jour, and Caesar lovers

will find the salad is topped with lots of cheese and optional portabella

mushrooms, crab or shrimp. A "WildFlower salad" of mixed baby greens tossed

in wild berry vinaigrette is also available.

For the main course, choose from seafood specialties such as crab

cakes, lobster and "Salmon Snoqualmie Style" — with a plum and

cranberry chutney and baby red potatoes.

More options include a 12-ounce ribeye or New York steak, an

8-ounce filet, pork tenderloin, lamb prepared the "classic French style" with

roasted pearl onions and a rosemary marsala sauce, and more. Entrees range

from $11.95 to $65.

And diners are warned: this is food to savor, slowly.

"If you're in a hurry, this isn't the place to come," Michael said.

There is only one sitting per table each night, so customers are

pampered with attention, detail and conversation.

Customers can order from the regular menu, or choose the

eight-course meal, popular with inn guests, which takes 3 1/2 hours to finish.

The meal starts by the fire with wine and hors d'ouvres.

Marque Burbatt is a wine connoisseur and loves to recommend the

perfect wine or "bubbly" for his guests.

Diners are informed when their table is ready, but they decide

when to start eating. Lee explained this is to provide time to finish

conversations struck up by the fire and to provide

an "at-home," leisurely atmosphere.

After the appetizers, salad, soup and bread are consumed and diners

are encouraged to take a break from the table. Some take a walk to stretch

out, others adjourn to their room to freshen up, and many go back to the warm

fire for a glass of wine.

After the break, tables are reset and diners order their entrees. Dessert

can be eaten anywhere _ in rooms, by the fire, at the table.

This is just part of Michael's plan for relaxation and fulfillment

from dinner. The creative chef decorates his plates with herbs and other

items found in the kitchen to make each plate special for customers.

"To me, food is art; it always has been," he said. "I am the show

back there [in the kitchen.] Every plate is a work of art. They're all very

unique in their presentation."

Michael is not alone in this belief. Marque (pronounced "Mark")

Burbatt is also in business to provide people with a service both men find

lacking in restaurants today — personal attention.

The Honey Farm's 10 rooms are decorated with themes and have

gorgeous views of the Valley. Each room was constructed to be quiet, with

hardwood doors and thick walls. Some rooms have whirlpool tubs and

fireplaces, and breakfast comes with the price of every room, which start

out at $89.

So far, the inn has catered to Valley couples seeking a romantic

night away from their kids, relatives of Eastsiders and travelers from all

over the world.

The inn and restaurant can be used for weddings, banquets with from

two to 300 people, meetings and special gatherings. Romance packages

are also available, for rooms or even for delivery. They can range from

baskets with wine, cheese, chocolates and scented candles, to special

limousine rides, picnics in the woods and cabin rentals.

The WildFlower Restaurant is open from 4:30 p.m.

until "everybody's done," Wednesday through Sunday. Family dining

(with children) is from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Reservations are necessary, but the

staff will try to accommodate last-minute and special requests. For more

information on the restaurant or the inn, call (425) 888-9399.

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