Our guests always ask us about best restaurants in the area. You might think the answer to that is Bellevue, since that’s where our home is. We think of Bellevue whenever we’re looking for a fine-dining experience or a sophisticated evening out. But if you’re looking for fabulous food in less-formal surroundings, the sprawling Eastside town of Redmond has a lot to offer, and it’s just 5 miles north of the lake house. It’s best known as the home of Microsoft. For non-Microsofties, it’s a retail hub with several shopping plazas and Redmond Town Center. But for everyone, it’s where to go for a number of great local-foods restaurants. We’d love to introduce you to our favorites.
Sages may look unassuming, but it’s a neighborhood treasure offering some truly top-notch rustic Italian food. With white linen tablecloths and windows looking out to the street, warm service and hearty plates of delicious food, Sages gives the feel of a restaurant in some quiet village in Europe. Which isn’t far off. Chef-owner Bart hails from Poland. Emigrating to the U.S. as a young teen, Bart took a job with a local chef at the age of 14. After serving as executive chef at the Bellevue Hyatt Hotel and graduating from the Seattle School of Culinary Arts, Bart and his wife Jerri opened Sages in 2001. Bart’s genial nature adds to the gracious hospitality you’ll receive here; you’ll likely see him making the rounds with a twinkle in his eye, joking with regulars and warmly greeting newbies.
Bart’s fare highlights the best of the Northwest and adds layer upon layer of flavor to create intensely savory dishes.
Sages is the first place we head to every spring when fresh halibut comes in, because we know Bart will get it right. He has a delicate hand with its preparation, cooking it just to the point where it flakes easily in translucent slivers, often served with mashed potatoes and buttery spring asparagus. The same can be said about the fresh, wild-caught salmon, in season.
The pasta is outstanding, as well. I can rarely resist the lobster ravioli, stuffed with lobster and ricotta and finished in lemon, garlic, white wine, dill and cream. Desserts always pose a challenge, since dishes are large and we’re often full by the end of the meal. But we can never pass them up because desserts here go far beyond the token sweets offered at many restaurants. We both love the tiramisu and chocolate decadence, but my favorite is Bart’s Baileys Walnut Cake, a classic European torte made with layers of walnut-specked sponge cake with a mocha frosting. A sweet ending to a charming dining experience.
The Stone House
It’s no exaggeration to say that you’ll likely have a memorable dining experience at The Stone House, which rises to the level of a fine dining establishment. We return to The Stone House time and again for family celebrations.
This quaint little house sided with river rocks looks like it was lifted up from a leafy neighborhood and set down in the heart of downtown Redmond. Built between 1914 and 1916 by local pioneer Orson Wiley, The Stone House is actually a fine example of a Craftsman-Bungalow style home; it was designated a Redmond landmark in 2007. The interior is cozy, but there is additional seating outdoors on a patio, out front—our favorite spot on a sunny evening.
While the home itself is impressive, so are the meals turned out by Chef-Owner Ryan Donaldson, who creates food that lies at the intersection of Northwest contemporary and French bistro fare.
The menu shifts with the seasons, but you can always be assured of inventive cuisine using whatever’s fresh. Their spring menu offers a first course of Dungeness crab, roasted baby beets, watercress, apple and tarragon, a second course of braised duck tortellini in broth with carrots, mushrooms, radicchio and ricotta, and that gold-standard of spring in the Northwest, wild Alaskan halibut with fiddlehead ferns, roasted tomatoes and ricotta gnocchi.
Matt’s Rotisserie & Oyster Lounge
No guide to Redmond’s restaurants would be complete without a local hangout, and for us that’s Matt’s. Matt’s Rotisserie & Oyster Lounge, to be more formal—though this place is anything but. It has a comfortable, friendly ambiance. On the second floor of Redmond Town Center, this local go-to is where we always head for a Happy Hour with lots of great options and reasonably priced wine. There are seemingly a zillion booths and tables, but we always go for seats at an enormous bar top that curves around the entire front dining room.
The comfort food-focused menu is equally vast, with options ranging from halibut tacos and fish and chips to burgers and the Monday Meatloaf special.
As seafood lovers, we always order a plate of fresh-shucked local oysters. There is always a choice of 4-6 types, served with a delicious mignonette; our faves are Shigoku and Blue Pool, each on the small side and with a hint of sweetness. When available, we love Matt’s grilled wild Alaskan King salmon, a hearty dish with mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies. What Matt’s is really known for, though, is their wood-fired rotisserie grill. Applewood added to the grill yields smoky prime rib, salt-and-pepper chicken and other meats, made tender with long, slow grilling.
This airy bistro features a craft cocktail bar and chic décor, with wood block prints on the walls and lanterns dangling from the ceiling that cast a golden glow at night. Woodblock really buzzes. Every time we go it’s filled with a lively crowd. The entire front of the restaurant is a glass wall, drawing in lots of natural light, and with high ceilings it’s really lovely. That said, all the hard surfaces make sound bounce around, so it can get pretty loud during peak hours. Sidewalk tables are the solution on sunny days, though pulling up a seat at the bar inside can be entertaining for people-watching. Wood Block draws a young, sophisticated crowd.
Happy Hour here has some nice options, such as a 21-day dry-aged beef burger, Mac N Cheese (with five cheeses, including bleu cheese) and fried Brussels sprouts. The menu’s focus is mostly on small plates. The list of large plates is slim, but all are consistently good, including the cioppino, brisket gnocchi and buttermilk fried chicken.
We think Woodblock’s Parmesan-dusted truffle fries are mandatory—they’re addictive.
Woodblock is popular for weekend brunch, when locals stream in for standard brunch fare with twists: One version of their Benedict comes with house-smoked pork belly, and their French toast is made with banana bread and served with strawberry compote.
Pomegranate Bistro & Bar
Finally, no Redmond restaurant list would be complete without Lisa Dupar’s Pomegranate Bistro. Lisa is a truly legendary chef and caterer who has put a delicious spin on banquets and celebrations throughout the Seattle area for several decades. Straight out of high school, Lisa apprenticed at the Westin Hotel’s Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta before culinary training in Zurich, Switzerland. Later, she moved to Seattle to become Westin Hotels’ first female chef.
In 2005, Lisa and husband Jonathan Zimmer opened the comfort food haven of Pomegranate Bistro, whose menu nods to Lisa’s southern upbringing. While Lisa no longer works in the kitchen, her influence can be tasted in every dish.
The space is divided into two halves—a dark wood and red-accented dining room with windows looking into the catering kitchen and a spacious bar area that has a more-modern feel. Where the two rooms meet at the entrance is a true showstopper—a pastry case filled with indulgent desserts (carrot cake, chocolate ganache cake, lemon bars, etc.) that taste as good as they look; no sugar-bombs, these are made with “real” ingredients, including high-end chocolate and butter.
I always gauge my order based on what treats await—though just as often we have them box up goodies to go, for later.
While the desserts are dressed up, the dinner menu has more of a down-home approach, with salads, sandwiches, tacos and burgers, as well as “firebreads” with a range of toppings, from BBQ chicken to mushroom, asparagus and herb ricotta. You can’t go wrong with Lisa’s popular Southern Fried Chicken with Yukon Gold mashers and (a refreshing, sweet/tart) celery seed slaw. You can taste the quality in dishes here. Pomegranate prides itself on making many items from scratch, including their own sausages, breads, crackers, even butter.