While located minutes from Sea-Tac International Airport, Cedarbrook Lodge is far from your typical airport hotel. Ranked #7 of the Top Thirty Readers’ Choice Awards for 2019, Cedarbrook is an oasis of beauty and hospitality. Driving onto the grounds, I was struck by the lush greenery and beautiful flower gardens that surrounded koi ponds and little waterfalls. The property is just west of Bow Lake Reservoir and is tucked into the surrounding wetlands and greenbelt.
We checked in to our lovely room, with its view of the greenbelt, and noticed the Cedarbrook Northwest IPA waiting for us. This light and refreshing IPA made locally for Cedarbrook hit the spot after our hike that we just completed. Realizing that we were also hungry, we headed down to the Copperleaf Restaurant. It was a pleasant spring evening, so we were able to enjoy dinner on the patio, overlooking a koi pond. We started with the Carrot Ginger Soup with feta cheese, toasted hazelnuts, dill, and Fresno Chile. The colorful orange soup was a riot of flavor – the sweetness of the carrots, the kick of the chiles, and the saltiness of the feta. Delicious! For my main course, I enjoyed the Black & Bleu Salad with blackened grass-fed beef tips, dried cherries, and bleu cheese dressing. There was a definite flavor of hickory to the beef – which blended exceptionally well with the tart cherries and the creamy bleu cheese. This beef is locally sourced from Gleason Ranch, which is a fifth-generation farm from a small rural community west of here.
Continuing on our lean beef dinner, Michael loved the Pastrami on Rye – a classic Rueben Sandwich with very lean pastrami. After dinner, we strolled the grounds and enjoyed the evening and retired to our room for the evening. The next day was going to be a busy one.
The gastric aspect of our adventure continued the next morning’s breakfast was a great way to start the day. It was a beautiful morning on the deck to enjoy a beverage, and the highlight was the Sheepish Skillet, which was scrambled eggs and Mangalitsa pork sausage served with rosemary potatoes. The pork is sourced from the Sheepish Pig Farm in Kingston, WA (located in a small community on the Olympic Peninsula). Mangalitsa pigs are sometimes called a pig in sheep’s clothing because of their furry, curly hair. They have a fascinating history – having become nearly extinct in the 20th century.
The Sheepish Pig farm is owned by Tania Issa. She and her husband plus five sons raise these fluffy pigs (along with some actual sheep) and supply some of the finest Farm to Table restaurants and caterers in the Seattle area.
We were fueled for a busy day that including hiking, kayaking, and a picnic on the beach (See “Enjoy the Outdoors”). After the picnic, we proceed to enjoy all the nearby waterfront hikes. Most of these outdoor ventures were a 15-minute drive from the lodge, and one was a 40-minute drive. One could do these activities in one day, or a more leisurely experience is to spread them out of several days. When you are done, it will be time to enjoy the Happy Hour then dinner at the Copperleaf Restaurant.
For dinner Michael decided to enjoy the more sausage, even though he doesn’t usually eat pork, he ordered the Pork Meatballs served with ricotta and tomato sauce. The meatballs were delicious, but I ordered a Gleason Ranch grass-fed burger with Beecher’s Just Jack cheese, Dijonaise, pickled onion, and tomato jam. It was a juicy, rich burger. We also sampled the Deviled Eggs, which were extraordinary – made with locally-sourced Lummi Island Smoked Ikura (salmon roe).
I think everything we ate was sourced within a day’s drive! And, according to Executive Chef Adam Stevenson, that is all part of his focus on sustainability and local farming. He loves spending time and getting to know the area farmers and is committed to local eating. Some so local it is right outside the door in his garden. Of course, in his cooking, he uses the harvest of horseradish, kale, cabbage, beets, carrots, and a variety of herbs that he grows there. We were lucky enough to taste the jam made from his rhubarb that morning at breakfast.
Along with the value of local farming, Cedarbrook and Chef Stevenson also participate in the OSL (Operation Sack Lunch), which provides over 7500 meals a day to various agencies in the Seattle area for those facing food insecurity.
We really enjoyed our two-day retreat at this relaxing oasis, and we will need to return on business and or for pleasure again. Cedarbrook is excellent for a business conference, with multiple large, flexible meeting rooms (totaling 21,000 square feet), all with lots of natural light and floor to ceiling windows. There are also smaller intimate areas, including 3 “living rooms” with all the comforts of home and several small dining areas. And whether you are there for a conference or a personal retreat – don’t forget the spa for a relaxing and rejuvenating treatment, including the Cedarbrook Signature Hot Stone Massage
Enjoy the Outdoors – all a short drive from the Lodge
A five-minute drive from the Lodge – the Creek Trail is a 2 mile, paved hike or bike trail that will take you to Des Moines Beach Park, or if you continue a short distance to the Des Moines Public Fishing Pier and its delightful views of Puget Sound.
Drive 15 minutes from the Lodge, and you’ll find Saltwater State Park. Swim in the Sound, picnic or BBQ in a covered, or uncovered picnic area, or hike along the beach. A beach walk at low tide is especially lovely.
The boardwalk features a mile of spectacular views and kayak or paddleboard rentals.
It is well worth the 40-minute drive to this fantastic and rare wildlife refuge. There are many trails to take, but the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk is the highlight. An estuary is the place that a river meets the sea – and harbors a wide diversity of habitats and wildlife. Most major estuaries in Washington state have been filled, dredged, or otherwise developed, so this refuge is truly unique. On a clear day, you’ll have views of the Olympic mountains – and continue to the end of the boardwalk for stunning views of Puget Sound.
Editorial disclosure: lodging, beverages, and food generously provided.