When one mentions they’re considering a visit to Kirkland, the response is always the same: “Like the Costco brand?” Well, sort of. Costco was indeed based in Kirkland, and despite decamping to Issaquah in 1996, the “Kirkland Signature” brand remains well-known to devotees of the warehouse retailer. However, there are other, better reasons that this lakefront hamlet in the greater Seattle environs should endure in one’s memory.
It may be a surprise to some that this small bedroom community is host to two AAA Four Diamond rated hotels, one of which is a charming incarnation of Portland’s legendary Heathman Hotel. The Heathman Hotel Kirkland is located a few blocks from the waterfront and features thoughtfully comfortable guest rooms with cozy fireplaces, French press in-room coffee, and a variety of other well-appreciated amenities in addition to several indoor and outdoor public spaces for communal meeting. And communal meeting does go on – on a recent visit there was a group dining in the lobby and a limousine depositing a bachelorette party at the front door. It’s clear that the community has certainly embraced the hotel as more than mere landscape.
Also in the hotel is Trellis Restaurant, which serves farm-to-table Northwest cuisine. Now, that’s nothing new to this region, but how many of those restaurants are chef’s farm to chef’s table? Much of the produce at the restaurant comes from Chef Brian Scheehser’s 18 acre farm in Woodinville. A recent dinner special was a delightful Alaskan halibut with spinach, peas, morels, and beurre blanc. If the extensive wine list at Trellis doesn’t prevent an after dinner walk, Lady Yum is the sweet spot to visit for lovely bespoke macarons. Flavors include Earl Grey, Vanilla Bourbon Pear, and Passionfruit.
Brunch lovers can indulge at the Hemingway-inspired Bottle & Bull. The menu is written in Hemingway’s abrupt, direct style (particularly enjoyable is the simple disclaimer “Raw food can kill you.”) and the food and drinks are inspired from the author’s writing and travels in the Caribbean, Spain, France, and North Africa. There are several items from the dinner menu on the brunch menu as well, and they’re all notable, particularly the satisfying Cuban-style ajiaco stew which will put any hangover straight back to bed, as well the delightfully toothsome albondigas meatballs. The Pork Belly Benny is also of note, with the lightest, fluffiest hollandaise possible atop poached eggs, and sugar-roasted pork belly on a divinely decadent brioche. It’s also possible to drink like Hemingway with comfortingly classic yet distinguishably modern cocktails like the pleasantly puckering Ancho Spritz (bitters lovers will be bowled over) and the Maple Leaf (bourbon, lemon, and a smack of maple syrup).
It’s easy to feel at home on the waterfront on a weekend, with vendors peddling hot dogs for those who were enjoying the sun too much to stop in one of the various close-by eateries. A culturally diverse cadre of families plays casually both in and out of the water, and there are plenty of happy dogs walking and running with their owners on the concrete footpath under expansive shade trees.
Ready to visit Kirkland yet? Promise, it’s worth the trip.
Accommodations and some meals were furnished by The Heathman Hotel Kirkland and Bottle & Bull in preparation for this story.