The Barking Frog is a hotel restaurant. It’s next door to The Herbfarm. It’s beautiful, charming and rustic. But it’s more than all of these things. Just as Woodinville has become a wine attraction in the shadow of Washington Wine Country, the Barking Frog has grown into its own as a favorite destination for Northwest dining.
But this doesn’t mean that locals can’t come here to enjoy a fine evening. Take Jill Lueckenotte of Woodinville for example. “My dear girlfriends invited me out for dinner to celebrate my birthday. (We) selected it for its great culinary reputation, ambience, and location as most of us live in Woodinville … We all had a fabulous evening that was most delicious as well,” she said.
Delicious indeed. The Barking Frog serves American Northwest cuisine and executive chef Bobby Moore dishes out the freshest ingredients of the season, preferring local meats, seafood and produce to make its way to the menu. Seared scallops over creamy polenta, with crushed hazelnuts and drizzled local honey on the plate make an excellent starter. With fall in full swing, nothing quite beats a nice steak to warm your belly, but Moore and his staff up the ante of savory goodness with some nice touches – if it’s available, try the seared steak tenderloin, from RR Ranch Signature Beef, topped with a huge ravioli that’s stuffed with ricotta cheese and egg yolk. The raw egg yolk cooks in the ravioli. The idea is to take your fork and pop the ravioli like an egg. When you break into the ravioli, what oozes out and mixes with the veal jus is nothing short of mouth watering.
Speaking of mouth watering, don’t skip dessert at Barking Frog. The restaurant recently performed a coup of sorts in hiring its new pastry chef Matt Kelley. Formerly of Café Juanita in Kirkland and Rover’s in Seattle, Kelley is considered to be a rising star in the pastry world, and his sweet creations are a testament to his talent. Count your lucky stars his dark chocolate coffee ganache is on the menu. It’s served with crispy praline, Jivara cremeux, salted caramel, a chocolate tuile and chocolate sauce. This sounds like a lot of chocolate, but Kelley somehow gets it to work. The dessert is rich to be sure, but it doesn’t overwhelm.
Moore has had a long journey as a chef and as a man. He was born in San Diego, California, and then moved to Texas when with his family when he was young. Moore’s father worked the railroad lines until late at night, so he often had to do the cooking. When he was 8, he moved to Hawaii with his mother, where he was exposed to a whole new world of food.
“I loved the cuisine I was introduced to at a young age. Hawaii is the melting pot of the world basically, so I was exposed to so many different styles of food, incredibly fresh fish and produce. It was an amazing experience for me.”
His mother eventually remarried, and Moore found himself in Germany at ages 12 and 13 with a whole new cultural experience, then at 14 back to Texas again to live with his father and finish high school. Moore started washing dishes to make extra money at his friend’s parent’s restaurant, and helped out in their bakery as well. His hard work led to becoming the pizza guy for the restaurant, tossing dough and showing off to customers.
After high school and several restaurant jobs to make his way through college, he found his way back in Hawaii, where he ran his mother’s lucrative cleaning business. But Moore needed to meet people his own age, so he started working in restaurants again. Before long, Moore met Michelle, the love of his life at a restaurant in Hawaii. She wanted to move to the mainland to go to the University of Washington, and he was eager to follow.
The couple landed in Seattle, and that’s where Moore worked as a host, then waiter, then food expeditor at Cutter’s Bayhouse. Eventually, he found his way to Fullers at the Sheraton, working as an expeditor under noted Seattle chefs Monique Barbeau and Danielle Custer. Big names in the Seattle restaurant scene urged him to go to culinary school, and he gave it a shot. When he got out of school, he made his way through Fullers kitchen, starting as garde manger (cold food prep) and worked his way up to sous chef, eventually leaving to join Willows Lodge and Barking Frog as sous chef under Tom Black.
“At the time, the Herbfarm was the premier restaurant, and Barking Frog was the hotel restaurant. Tom and I changed the direction of the culinary roadmap here. We came in and changed the food from burgers and room service food to something different, with high-end ingredients and so much more. People started to realize that Barking Frog was going in a different direction; we started getting attention out here. Back then, we were so far away, and now it’s like we’re half the distance because there’s so many wineries, and this is where everyone wants to be,” Moore said.Moore became executive chef at Barking Frog about four years ago. He’s doing his best to set trends instead of follow them and let the food speak for itself. “We never really accepted where we were. We’re always striving to get better.”
With Moore’s help, Barking Frog has become a destination restaurant for visitors to Woodinville Wine Country. It’s also a place where locals can come celebrate with friends and family, or simply relax, sip wine and enjoy the signature Grand Marnier prawns.