Experiential Dining

Take your dinner game to the next level this summer

By Abigail Thorpe



It’s summertime, which means it’s also every foodie’s paradise. In the Inland Northwest, summer means a time for savoring the sun, making new memories—and delicious outdoor dining! For many of us, there is more than a short list of new restaurants we’re eager to try, and a little day or weekend food destination is well worth the drive.


This year, we’ve rounded up some Northwest favorites that offer much more than just a tasty bite. From boating adventures to farm-to-table dining, these experiential dining destinations offer incredible experiences alongside the gourmet meal.


Outstanding in the Field, Monteillet Fromagerie

Outstanding in the Field originated with a simple idea: Connect diners with the source of their food. Every summer, the company travels around the country and world setting up farm-to-table dinners on farms, vineyards, beaches, meadows and city streets. “Our roving restaurant without walls is rebuilt every morning and disappears every night. It is a momentary experience and a joyful celebration of human connection. Together we gather at one long table to share the most fundamental and universal human conversation: a meal.”


This summer, they return to Monteillet Fromagerie in Dayton, Washington, on July 23 for a feast in the field. Monteillet Fromagerie produces artisanal small batch goat and sheep's milk cheeses. The evening includes a tour of the beautiful farm, followed by a meal in the golden pastures. The Outstanding in the Field team will be joined by Chef Chad Bostwick of Walla Walla Steak Co., and the meal will center around local ingredients, accompanied by brews from Bostwick’s own brewery, Crossbuck. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Visit OutstandingInTheField.com/2020-tour for more information and to purchase tickets.


Arbor Crest Winery

Situated 450 feet above the Spokane River valley, the Historic Cliff House that houses the Arbor Crest Winery tasting room offers spectacular views. Alongside a customized flight, their Exclusive Tasting Experience includes a cheese and charcuterie pairing on the third floor of the Cliff House, so you can take in the stunning views while you sip.


The historic home was built in 1924 by inventor Royal Newton Riblet. A beautiful three-story Florentine-style mansion, the original grounds included imaginative landscape and architecture like a life-size checkerboard, four acres of terraced gardens and the “Eagle’s Nest” stone gazebo that offers an incredible view of the valley below.


For the architecture and gardening gurus, the Estate Tour & Tasting Experience offers a guided tour of the gardens and grounds while you sip and dine on a personalized tasting and cheese and charcuterie pairing. Either way, it’s guaranteed to be a relaxing, delicious getaway. Visit ArborCrest.com for more information.


OARS Wilderness Gourmet Culinary Tours

A six-day rafting trip on the Salmon River is far from the ordinary adventure. Throw in gourmet meals and wine pairings after you set up camp each evening, and it’s an unforgettable experience that is the caviar to experiential dining.


The cost of the trip includes the short scenic flight from McCall to Salmon, Idaho, as well as all food, equipment and accommodations. Every trip includes meals, but the Wilderness Gourmet rafting trip is only offered on August 16 for the Salmon River six-day trip. Revel in hot springs, sandy beaches and exciting class III rapids on the “river of no return.” OARS offers other trips on the Salmon and Snake rivers throughout the summer, and is renowned for their incredible guided rafting tours down the country’s most famous rivers. Visit OARS.com for more information.


Cave B Inn & Spa

Cave B Inn & Spa Resort offers the ultimate in relaxation, located in the Ancient Lakes viticulture region in the heart of Washington’s Columbia Valley wine country and offering vineyard views of the neighboring boutique estate winery. Cave B offers an on-site inn, The Spa at Sagecliffe and delicious gourmet meals at Tendrils restaurant overlooking Cave B Estate Winery, which shares a driveway, name and history with the resort, but is owned and operated separately and is just a short walk away for tastings. Stop in for a bottle of award-winning wine from winemaker Freddy Arredondo to enjoy in the evening while taking in the summer sunset. Desert Yurts offer an alternative to the Cliffhouse stay, but you’ll experience the breathtaking views from either. Settled in the gorge below the estate lies the famed Gorge Amphitheater, where you can often find a famous artist or band playing amidst the red rocks. What better way is there to spend a summer weekend away than savoring gourmet meals, tasting award-winning wines and relaxing? VisitCaveBInn.com/home for more information.


Candle in the Woods

A charming North Idaho family home nestled in Athol is also home to prix fixe, reservation-only, 10- to 12-course dinners prepared by the owner himself, Chef Dave Adlard. “Dinner here is more than just a meal; it is an entire experience that you will not soon forget. Enter as strangers, leave as friends!”


Each meal is exquisitely prepared and served with wine from the cellar, which houses almost 1,800 different labels, 4,200 bottles and more than 200 international varietals—one of the best collections in the Northwest. Dinner is served family style, with strangers mingling over wine and every course usually turned to fast friends by the end of the night. Wine pairings are pre-selected, though guests can choose a more select pairing option (but every guest must agree to the change).


For those who don’t want to drive, limo service is provided for a minimal cost to and from the Coeur d’Alene area, and given the wine list, we’d recommend taking advantage of the ride! Visit CandleInTheWoods.com for more information.


Dinner and Eagle Watching Cruise on the Shawnodese

Depart from Sandpoint’s City Beach for several hours of great food and sightseeing on beautiful Lake Pend Oreille. Lake Pend Oreille Cruises offers dinner and dessert cruises aboard the Shawnodese. The dinner cruise on Tuesday and Thursday nights is a must for first timers. It includes a three-hour cruise with a full meal catered by local restaurant Trinity at City Beach, with a full bar available on board. Eagle viewing is a particularly special part of the cruise.


“We have had many memorable cruises over the years including birthdays, anniversaries and family reunions,” says the captain of the Shawnodese. “We also see wildlife frequently including bald eagles, osprey and other birds. Oftentimes beautiful sunsets are viewed toward the end of the cruise as we are heading back to shore.”

If you’re more interested in the sweets, Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays they offer a sunset dessert and eagle watching cruise, and every full moon of June, July and August you can enjoy a full moon and dessert cruise. Visit LakePendOreilleCruises.com for more information.


Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

Located just outside of Sandpoint, Western Pleasure Guest Ranch was started by the Wood Family 100 years ago as Wood V-X Cattle Ranch. Five generations later it is still an operating ranch, offering amazing dude ranch experiences throughout the summer and winter.


The All Inclusive Guest Ranch Adventure Vacation includes lodging in the Grand Lodge or in one of the quaint log cabins, daily horseback rides, country gourmet daily meals and evening entertainment—not to mention access to all that the ranch has to offer, including archery, hiking, observing ranch operations, and a nice hot tub soak when the day is over.


“The warm, Western hospitality, country gourmet dining, and the beauty of Idaho’s wilderness will make your guest ranch stay not just a vacation, but an authentic western experience with memories that last a lifetime,” say your hosts.


Wednesday nights feature the beloved dutch-oven dinner around the fire, where guests can have their leather boots or wallets branded with the ranch brand, and Friday includes a special dining excursion. You set off at 5pm on horseback, and enjoy a full country-style steak dinner in the middle of spectacular natural beauty, including wine and beer. Most guests arrive on Sunday and leave on Saturday, but you have the option to arrive between Sunday and Wednesday, and can opt for a shorter stay if you don’t want the full week-long experience (three-night minimum stay required). Visit WesternPleasureRanch.com for more information.


What are you waiting for? Take your dinner game to the next level this summer.

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