Food Pairings

Soul-searching bike rides lead couple to Tandem Dinner & Wine Bar

Riding a tandem bicycle is not as easy as it may seem, requiring motivation from both seats and ceaseless teamwork to reach the destination.

In 2008, life in the corporate world threw chicanes into the paths of Brad and Lisa Havens. They suddenly found themselves unemployed, but the products of Puyallup came upon answers and a plan, which they realized together in 2010.

Their concept for Tandem Dinner and Wine Bar began on a tandem bicycle, which explains why guests will see an antique version hanging in the dining room of their Woodinville restaurant.

“We always ride tandem,” Lisa said. “Brad’s almost 6-foot-2, and I’m not quite 5-foot. I can’t keep up with him on a single. It’s a lot more fun on a tandem. You can visit, and you can see more.”

It’s been a year since the Havenses have taken their restaurant concept to its new location, but they still get emotional about that display bicycle and what it symbolizes.

“It’s not the easiest industry to switch to,” Lisa said. “We had both spent 20 years climbing the corporate ladder and thought we’d be there until we retired. ‘Now, what are we going to do?’ ”

Brad worked in kitchens during his days at Western Washington University and several years beyond prior to spending two decades with Ecolab, a food safety giant based in St. Paul, Minn.

“My first job came when I was 16 in a Mexican restaurant,” he said. “I got hooked on it and cooked for about 10 years at six restaurants, but I’ve been in thousands of restaurants and exposed to a lot of different operations throughout my corporate career.”

Lisa’s background in hotel management, then as a corporate trainer for Boeing and Weyerhaeuser made her business-savvy. Those skills allowed her to teach classes at North Seattle Community College and area high schools. Her natural people skills and charm serve her well while working the front of the house.

“We entertained ALL the time at our house and did everyone’s 50th birthday party, retirement, graduation, for as many as 60 to 70 people,” Lisa said. “We thought about that when we got on our tandem bike, and over the three-month period we rode 1,970 miles around the state going over our gifts and talents, how we can re-invent ourselves because our (job) situation wasn’t changing anytime soon.”

They arrived at the concept for Tandem, simplified their lives and cashed in their savings.

“I felt like I was at the craps table, going, ‘Mama needs a new pair of shoes!” she chuckled.

Those private parties would see Brad cooking while Lisa did the baking, the plating and the decorating. They met at a hotel lodging convention, so the idea of launching a restaurant would still seem a bit intimidating but not impossible.

“I was an assistant vice president of corporate accounts,” Brad said. “I was working with chains like Cheesecake Factory, Claim Jumper, Old Spaghetti Factory. There were also independent hotels, too. It was always fun to see what creative concepts people put together.”

The Havenses first opened in Bothell, but their new location along Woodinville-Redmond Road puts them within a few minutes of more than 100 tasting rooms and wineries.

“We outgrew that space in Bothell, which was in a 100-year-old building, and there was a lot of construction going on,” Lisa said. “We lost business because people couldn’t find us with the roads being closed. And our lease was up.”

So once again, they hopped on the bike and toured Woodinville looking for a new home.

“We belong here because we supported these wineries while we were in Bothell,” she said. “And there are way more wineries than there are restaurants.”

Veterans of the Woodinville wine trail might remember the building Silver Lake Winery operated in. That space became the new home for Tandem in August 2015. Next door are tasting rooms for Basel Cellars and Cascade Cliffs.

“We still get people coming in who think it is a winery or a tasting room,” Lisa said. “It’s been difficult for us to get the word out.”

Many of the touches inside Tandem are straight from their own home. “So this,” she said pointing around the dining room, “is who we are.”

And if you don’t finish your meal, Lisa will send you out the door with a personal touch that’s utterly remarkable.

“Nothing goes home in a to-go box,” she said. “It’s put on a nice clean plate; it’s put in Saran wrap — just like you’ve been to our home for dinner — and we hand it to you. Just bring my plate back the next time you come in.

“So you see plates coming in and plates going out,” she added. “For people who have never been here before, that’s a huge conversation starter.”

Friends, customers and members of the wine community have given or contributed personal items now on display. Bothell artist Al Cox presented them with a large painting of a scene reminiscent of Venice as a housewarming gift for their new space in Woodinville.

“We have a lot of wonderful gifts from people in here,” she said.

A number of supporters and wineries sponsored bricks on the patio for $150 each. Some went so far as to purchase hundreds of dollars in gift certificates before the Woodinville location opened to help keep the Havenses going.

“It’s a house party here, and I have one every night. Sometimes, I just don’t know who’s coming,” she said with a smile.

“When you come here, it’s a dining experience,” she adds. “You sit here for three hours and get doted on. People will turn chairs and talk to one another and make friendships. That’s very rewarding.”

Tandem also is a strong supporter of Woodinville Wine Country, the marketing association for the growing wine scene. The latest count has it at more than 130 wineries/tasting rooms.

“We are in the heart of Woodinville, so you need to support your local wineries,” she said. “In return, you hope they will support the local restaurants. If you have reciprocity, everybody wins and you keep it in your community.”

Her straight-forward, two-page list offers 70 or so wines, and roughly two-thirds of those come from neighborhood wineries or tasting rooms. And about half of those are available by the glass, so those tourists who couldn’t make it to Avennia, Betz Family Winery, Brian Carter Cellars can get a glass pour — or a bottle — from each of those wineries.

“I hand-select every wine,” Lisa said. “There’s not a wine on the list that I wouldn’t take to your house for dinner.”

She’s listed more than 160 Washington wineries during her first year in Woodinville, which also includes cult producers such as Côte Bonneville, Gorman and Mark Ryan. Several on her list are a stone’s throw away — Januik/Novelty Hill and JM Cellars.

Lisa occasionally goes out on a limb to offer something particularly unusual, such as a glass of Aligoté from Snipes Mountain by Smasne Cellars.

“I work really hard to find things you won’t see at the grocery store or Costco,” she said.

Brad prides himself on offering an assortment of proteins, pasta and salads with signature dishes of French onion soup, crab cakes, duck-fried potatoes and risotto.

“Running a restaurant is ever-changing, multifaceted and very dynamic,” he said.

Understandably, husband and wife collaborated on Tandem’s Match Maker assignment. They opened with Seafood Linguine, featuring Bedford sea scallops, prawns and Dungeness crab with the EFESTĒ 2015 Evergreen Vineyard Feral Sauvignon Blanc.

Inherently scintillating white wines from that stellar Ancient Lakes site in the Columbia Basin are a natural fit with seafood, and neither the light garlic cream sauce within the pasta nor the light hand with the Parmesan overwhelms the meat or Peter Devison’s wine. And the Woodinville winemaker allows the Sauvignon Blanc to finish with lime juice rather than hair-raising acidity.

There are two risotto items on the Tandem menu, one with a white wine for seafood while the Duck Breast Risotto features a red wine demi-glace. Brad seared the breast perfectly, providing a crunchy skin, and didn’t oversalt the dish. It paired naturally with the Avennia 2013 Justine, a juicy and fruity GSM-style blend that leads with Grenache (47 percent) and Mourvèdre (39 percent) rather than Syrah. It’s another dish incorporating Parmesan, but the raspberry-like line of acidity in the Justine slices through both the duck and that cheese.

Few activities are better at burning calories than cycling. Alas, the Havenses have plunged virtually all of their energy into their restaurant and their family.

“We’ve ridden once since we’ve opened up Tandem,” Lisa said with a smile. “We ended up calling a friend of ours to pick us up. I think we did 65 miles that day, and that was enough.”

Tandem Dinner and Wine Bar, 15029 Woodinville-Redmond Road, Woodinville, WA 98072, tandemwinebar.com, 425-398-WINE (9463)

Wine:

Avennia 2013 Justine Red Wine, Columbia Valley, $40

325 cases, 14.8% alc.

There’s a growing list of acclaimed winemakers who trained and studied at iconic DeLille Cellars in Woodinville, and Chris Peterson continues to earn high marks.

He earned a degree in history from University of Washington, but in time he went back to school to learn winemaking. He became a star pupil in the inaugural class from Walla Walla Community College’s viticulture and enology program. Peterson even led classes there on international wines prior to joining Chris Upchurch’s team at DeLille.

In 2010, Peterson launched his own brand, Avennia, with Microsoft refugee Marty Taucher, and their project earned Wine Press Northwest’s 2014 Washington Winery to Watch award. They selected the name of the project as a tribute to the city of Avignon in southern France. (Peterson also quarterbacks Passing Time, the award-winning young brand in Woodinville owned by former NFL stars Dan Marino and Damon Huard.)

At Avennia, Peterson’s focus is on French varieties, and their Southern Rhône-style blend of Grenache (47%), Mourvèdre (38%) and Syrah is constructed with four vineyards in Washington — Alder Ridge (Horse Heaven Hills), Upland Vineyard (Snipes Mountain) and a pair of Red Mountain sites, Heart of the Hill and Angela’s. Alder Ridge and Upland combine for the Grenache, while Kiona’s Heart of the Hill contributes the Mourvèdre.

Rather than rely on engineered yeast, Peterson allowed for feral fermentation and 16 months of barrel aging in neutral French oak. The nose brings fruity hints of black cherry and plum which are joined by brown sugar, cocoa powder, light toast and cedar shavings.

Inside, the structure offers elegance over power as smooth flavors of dark plum and elderberry create a luscious mouth feel that picks up touches of anise and white pepper in the back.

This is one of four Rhône-inspired wines that Peterson and Taucher produce within their brand, which crushed 3,000 cases from the 2013 vintage.

8808 142nd Ave. N.E., Suite 2B, Woodinville, WA 98072-8281, avennia.com, 425-877-1639.

Recipe:

Duck Breast Risotto

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 Peking duck breasts, 8-ounce portions

4 sprigs fresh thyme

Kosher salt

Fresh-ground pepper

2 cloves minced garlic

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup red wine

1. Score the fat cap on each duck breast and marinate in extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh thyme, minced garlic and red wine.

2. Allow a few hours in the refrigerator or marinate overnight.

Risotto ingredients

1 pound Arborio rice

1/2 cup local mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, oyster)

1/2 cup diced butternut squash

1/2 cup leeks

1/4 cup diced red and yellow bell peppers

1 cup heavy cream

1 quart of vegetable or chicken stock

Kosher salt

1 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

1. In a 6-quart sauce pan, sauté the butternut squash, mushrooms, bell peppers and leeks over low to medium heat until the squash begins to soften.

2. Add one quart of stock and bring to a slow boil.

3. Add the Arborio rice and simmer on medium heat for approximately 12-14 minutes stirring continually to ensure the rice does not scorch.

4. Remove the risotto and spread evenly on a medium-sized sheet pan to cool. This will allow you to have the risotto staged to finish at just the right time without over cooking.

Cooking instructions

1. Pan sear the duck in an iron skillet over medium heat until the fat cap is crisp and fully cooked.

2. Turn over and allow another 2-3 minutes to reach medium rare to medium temperature. Remove from heat and allow to rest while you finish the risotto. (Save the pan — with the duck fat — to complete a quick pan sauce.)

3. In a sauce pan, bring 4 cups of stock to a slow boil, add 4 cups of risotto and salt to taste. (Cook time is only a few minutes after reaching boiling temperature).

4. Add 1/2 cup each of heavy cream and freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese.

5. Portion 8 ounces or more of finished risotto in pasta dish.

6. Slice each duck breast in four or five pieces and place over risotto.

7. In your sauce pan, heat a few ounces of remaining duck fat, slowly add some red wine to emulsify the fat and drippings for use as a finishing sauce over the risotto.

8. Garnish with fresh Parmesan Reggiano.

Wine:

EFESTĒ 2015 Evergreen Vineyard Feral Sauvignon Blanc, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $20

800 cases, 13.5% alc.

Sauvignon Blanc isn’t one of Washington’s sexiest varieties, but if every producer could pull in the white Bordeaux grape from Evergreen Vineyard, its state ranking in terms of production likely would rise.

At this point, it’s No. 4 — behind Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. EFESTĒ in Woodinville, founded in 2005, shines with Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. It’s no coincidence that each comes off Evergreen Vineyard, a renowned site near the Gorge Amphitheater that features caliche soils that impart fascinating slate and minerality notes.

Acclaimed winemaker Brennon Leighton worked on Chateau Ste. Michelle’s famed Eroica Riesling project before moving to EFESTĒ, so he brought a deep understanding of Evergreen Vineyard with him upon arrival in 2007. Five years later, Canadian winemaker Peter Devison replaced Leighton, who left for Charles Smith Wines.

From the start, there seemingly have been no missteps at EFESTĒ, in part because ownership retained DeLille Cellars winemaker Chris Upchurch as an early consultant. And those original owners always will be a part of the brand, pronounced “F-S-T.”

The EF is the spoken reference to the letter “F” — as in the first letter of the last name for owners Helen and Daniel Ferrelli. There’s the “S” for founding partner Patrick Smith. Daniel’s daughter Angela married Kevin Taylor, so there’s the TE — spoken as “tea.”

There’s no “meow” from Feral, so those who appreciate the “tomcat” aromas in Sauvignon Blanc may be a bit disappointed. Rather, it’s focused on tones of Granny Smith apple, lime and slate with fresh-cut celery, pea gravel and green tea components.

Devison’s use of neutral barrels and four months of lees aging imparts just a hint of oak before its January bottling. Lingering lime juice acidity provides pleasing balance to the finish, which is reminiscent of a bone-dry Riesling or steely Pinot Gris. That bodes well for all sorts of seafood, including breaded oysters or dishes including capers. Other pairing concepts include grilled salmon, vegetable kabobs, Greek salads, tamales and even Nopalitos con Huevos.

EFESTĒ, 19730 144th Ave. N.E., Woodinville, WA 98072, efeste.com, 425-398-7200.

Recipe:

Seafood Linguine

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/2 pound fresh Dungeness crab meat

1/2 pound New Bedford sea scallops

1/2 pound wild Pacific prawns

1 pound fresh linguine

4 cups heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup leeks

1 cup mixed mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, oyster)

Zest of one lemon

2 tablespoons of capers

1 tablespoon of fresh chopped garlic

4 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano

1 tablespoon medium-grind black pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Remove shell, devein and butterfly prawns. Set aside crab and scallops.

2. Season the heavy cream in a sauce pan with lemon zest, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, capers. Whisk ingredients together to evenly disperse seasoning.

3. Prepare 4 quarts of salted water for pasta, and pre-cook the pasta for a few minutes. Allow pasta to cool without over cooking to be staged for your final cooking steps.

4. Sauté scallops and prawns in butter and garlic over medium heat with salt and pepper.

5. Don’t burn the garlic!

6. Sauté vegetables, garlic on low to medium heat in butter.

7. Don’t burn the leeks!

8. Pour in seasoned cream and bring to a boil for a few minutes to reduce and tighten up the sauce.

9. As it reduces, add a little bit of your favorite white wine.

10. Remove from heat and gently fold in pasta until evenly coated. Plate in large pasta dish and garnish with grated Parmesan Reggiano and chopped Italian parsley.

11. Top with cooked prawns, seared scallops and Dungeness crab meat.

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