Located in the famed Woodmark Hotel, at Kirkland’s Carillon Point, Beach Café has gone through a few iterations in the Woodmark’s 28 year run as a hotel. Some may still know it as Yarrow Bay Grill, but to locals and tourists alike, Beach Café is a casual place to enjoy local favorites with a twist. The prime waterfront location, casual atmosphere, and friendly staff make it a must stop if you’re in the area, particularly during the warm summer months. They have a patio to die for.
Beach Café is currently helmed by Executive Chef Frank Rog, who oversees all three restaurants in the Woodmark Hotel. A recent transplant to the area, Chef Rog works with his sous chefs and chef de cuisine to curate local seafood and produce, and introduce spins on traditional comfort food. The dining space is quite large, and connected to the hotels living room bar. It’s really a place for locals to congregate, and they do, with family celebrations, parties, and private events. They’re open 365 days a year for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Food is sourced locally when possible, and all sauces, dressings, sausage, and desserts are made in-house. The menu changes seasonally (roughly 6-7/year), and their whimsical approach to comfort food really shines.
Photos by: foodolish.com
We were warmly greeted on a chilly winter evening and seated next to a crackling fireplace. Talk about cozy! We thought it was only right to warm up with a few cocktails. We started with the Chocolate Orange Old Fashion (Makers Mark, Grand Marnier, orange bitters, crème de cacao), which we found very smooth with a slight chocolate finish due to the crème de cacao. We all know orange pairs well with chocolate, and this old fashion is no exception. The Winter Cranberry Cosmo (Smirnoff vodka, Cointreau, lime, white cranberry) was a fabulous cranberry vodka with triple sec and white cranberry juice. Think your traditional cosmo dressed in winter white. It was citrusy, refreshing, nicely chilled, and so Carrie Bradshaw. It could’ve used a bit more vodka, but overall, a dangerous cocktail. Granny’s Mule (apple infused Westward Whiskey, maple syrup, Q tonic ginger beer) made for another wintery cocktail. Are you sensing a theme here? The cinnamon stir stick combined with the apple infusion was reminiscent of mulling spices, which we loved. Drink this guy in front of a fireplace and thank us later.
At Foodolish, you know we’re all about the food, and we started off with a bang at Beach Café. Starters of curry glazed, roasted brussels sprouts, with caramelized onion, and apple relish, along with warm crab & artichoke dip was the perfect way to kick off our meal. The brussels had a really nice curry flavor with a surprising bit of heat, while the apple relish added a hint of sweetness to this very hearty, winter vegetable dish. The subsequent dip was equally satisfying and incredibly rich, with warm jumbo lump crab, artichoke, cream cheese, and green onion. It was just the right amount to share, with thick, seasoned, griddled bread, and chunks of crab meat in every bite.
Chef Rog has been experimenting with pastas and flatbreads on the menu, so we had to try the BBQ Pulled Pork Flatbread (Mac & Jack braised pork, Mama Lil’s peppers, ancho BBQ sauce, green onion, poblano crema) and the Seafood Pesto Pasta (shrimp, jumbo lump crab, salmon, smoked bacon, tomato, seashell pasta, pesto cream). If you’re looking for another appetizer option, the flatbread is it. Thin, yet crispy, the flatbread was able to support the copious amount of pulled pork piled on top. The ancho BBQ sauce was sweet & savory, and the poblano crema added just enough creaminess to offset the heat from the sauce. Meanwhile, the seafood pasta is basically what your dreams are made of if you’re looking for a good night’s sleep after dinner. Rich pesto sauce binds perfectly cooked shrimp, salmon, and crab together with pasta. We would’ve liked the pasta a bit more on the al dente side, and we kept mistaking whole roasted garlic cloves for the jumbo lump crab (whoops!). We thought this was a very comforting, but heavy dish.
We couldn’t come here and not try the Chophouse Burger (Kobe beef, Mac & Jack’s pulled pork, smoked bacon jam, barbecue sauce, batter dipped onion rings, Tillamook white cheddar, house made pickles, brioche bun), given that crazy description. First impressions: OMG. This behemoth of a burger arrived on a small cutting board with a side of crispy fries and housemade pickles. Looking at the layers of this burger, we had two questions: “Is this real life?” and “how the hell do you eat this thing?!” We had such high hopes, but the beef was under-seasoned and the BBQ sauce kind of overwhelmed the entire burger. The housemade pickles were on the sweet side (not our favorite), but the fries were about as perfect as it gets. Our server, Lea, also brought us a side of housemade tarter sauce, which was awesome with the fries. Unfortunately, this burger missed the mark for us. It was missing that messy, juice dripping down your hand thing one expects from a burger. The Manila Clams (coconut seafood broth, Mama Lil’s peppers, garlic, sweet onions, scallions, grilled ciabatta) fared much better.
Flavors from roasted garlic cloves and fennel shined through the coconut broth, giving it some Thai flavor. The clams were fresh and the broth was delicious. One piece of ciabatta is definitely not enough to soak up all that goodness, so ask for more! Overall, great flavor and the ideal meal for one paired with a glass of wine. I think this was our favorite entrée of the night! We rounded out our meal with the 12oz Grilled Ribeye (glazed brussels sprouts, country mashed potatoes, fig demi). While beautifully presented, the ribeye was a bit overcooked for our liking, at a medium temperature, but the potatoes and glazed brussels sprouts were great. We found the fig demi way too sweet, and the steak on the dry side, which was disappointing. The sauce was done nicely, with a buttery sheen, but just too sweet for the steak.
When all desserts are made in-house, how can you pass up Dutch Oven Apple Crisp (oat crumble, vanilla ice cream)? Fresh, housemade apple crisp arrived in a cute mini dutch oven with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream. It wasn’t overly sweet, which we appreciated, and was the perfect way to end our crazy delicious meal.
Overall, Beach Café scores on location, food, and service. The menu is familiar and approachable, with just enough of a twist to keep things interesting. Almost everything we tried was well-seasoned, which we can attest is quite hard to do. We’d love to see what else Chef Rog has up his sleeve, as he settles in and continued to play with the menu.
Beach Cafe | 1200 Carillon Point, Kirkland, WA 98033 | Open 7 days a week