An evening of ‘Beef & Bourbon’ at Wildflower Bistro in North Bend, WA
Written by our Master Distiller, Nick Warren
Most people visit our tasting room for perhaps one cocktail, a quick tasting flight, or to pick up a bottle of booze to bring home. But then occasionally, we get a regular stop in from all the way out in North Bend, who often leaves with a case (or 3) of our spirits in tow. Though, I’m sure she would love to be taking them all home to enjoy for herself, Kimberlea in fact, has been a fan of ours and supporting us by using our spirits at her small restaurant, the Wildflower Bistro. She is a huge fan of supporting local when she can. So much in fact, that she wanted to throw a “Beef & Bourbon” dinner event at her restaurant, featuring our spirits. Our tasting room manager, Jacqueline, took all of about 3 seconds to agree to that idea, and I got to come along for the ride (lucky me)!
Now, if you haven’t been to North Bend in a while, not much has changed. Unlike its formerly small neighbor to the west, which has sprawled and embraced the popularity of the “Snoqualmie” name via the falls, casino and even pancake mix, North Bend has had some resistance. As I walked into the Wildflower Bistro, I initially loved how comfortable I felt there. It’s a small, charming space where you instantly feel welcomed. (Like visiting your favorite aunts house except with better drinks). The second thing I noticed, of course, was the bar. Now, I’m used to visiting our sister restaurant, Von’s 1000Spirits. Having over one thousand spirits means there’s ample room to be able to carry quite a few local spirits and PNW distillery’s products. Kimberlea, on the other hand, is only able to fit a handful of spirits at her bar and maybe 3/4 of them appeared to be local. I’ve been to bars and restaurants 10x that size, where you’d be lucky to find 1-2 local spirits displayed on the shelves. I was grateful and honestly, impressed by her commitment to use local products and support local businesses despite the limited shelf space.
As Jacqueline and I sat down and quickly ordered a Pecan Smoked Manhattan (delicious, btw), we were greeted by a young musician (who, apparently has been playing in-house there for years) setting up his electric guitar. Now, if you don’t know anything about me, there are two things I hate more than a good meal. And those things are live music and sarcasm 😉 After Kimberlea thanked and welcomed everyone for coming, the guitar kicked on and we were off and running. There were 5 courses on the event menu, every one cooked AND paired with our spirits. I was starting to feel special….and hungry.
The first course was a Gin Marinated Chicken and Pesto Pasta, which was paired with Bar Boss™ Gin and lime. Gin and pesto are a perfect compliment for one another, and I will be stealing that idea as my own next time I host friends.
Next up was a Rump Roast. An extra lean cut, smartly softened and tenderized by marinating in vodka, accompanied by garlic mashers. This was paired with our Bar Boss™ Vodka and a lemon wedge. Simple and delicious. The clean vodka and citrus kick were a perfect palate cleanser for meat and potatoes. (Not to humble brag, but afterwards I genuinely asked if they had included anything other than Gin, Vodka, ice and the citrus, since both drank like a smooth martini.)
The third course was Braised Leg of Lamb, kicked up a notch with our Bar Boss™ Bourbon, set atop a bed of Goat Cheese & Polenta. Braising any flavorful meat with Bourbon will win me over. However, I was surprised by how much I loved the goat cheese & polenta. It was simple enough to contrast the lamb, but every once in a while, a tangy goat cheese bite had me searching for more buried dairy treasure.
The last savory dish on the tasting menu was likely my favorite of all. Probably because I am a lover of big, bold flavors and if you have tried any of our Whiskeys, you would know that. It doesn’t hurt that Kimberlea had made a Cajun wet rub out of our most flavorful Bourbon, Savor Spear® Straight Bourbon Whiskey, and then rubbed it all over one of my favorite cuts of meat, Ribeye. Yes, please! (I just realized I have yet to try this at home, but will be doing so very, very soon). Served with tender asparagus and a dram of Savor Spear.
At this point I was content and needed nothing more. In fact, I didn’t want anything more and was almost worried about looking rude, leaving my dessert on the plate, which was up next. Being a man of my word, I left one bite of dessert on the plate. I mean, Butterscotch Bread Pudding with a Bar Boss™ Bourbon caramel sauce? I didn’t stand a chance. I mean, I was the 5-year-old kid sneaking butterscotch’s into his pocket while my mom conveniently distracted the bank teller..
Now, this is where a night would normally end at a restaurant, with the staff packing up and giving you a hint to get moving. However, not here. As the guitarist loosened up and really relaxed for his last couple songs, so did the staff. And Kimberlea was soon thanking everyone for a fun evening before sitting down at our table, showing us pictures of her kids. We’ll gladly provide the spirits for any celebration, but it’s this kind of community spirit that we love being a part of the most. Thanks for the great experience, Kimberlea!