Epicurean Experience returning to Issaquah

Vote for the best appetizer, cocktail, dessert in Issaquah.

Everyone gets their chance to be a food critic and judge in an upcoming Issaquah Chamber of Commerce’s contest.

The second annual Epicurean Experience event takes place March 7-27.

Participating restaurants will offer their creations of an Irish themed cocktail, appetizer or dessert. Restaurants can choose to enter one, two, or all three categories.

Patrons can order the competing menu items, sample the fares, then go online to vote for their favorite at https://www.issaquahchamber.com/epicexperience.

The restaurants with the most People’s Choice votes will win the People’s Choice award. A panel of judges also will go to scheduled tastings at the restaurants to award the winner of each category. People can sign up to be an official judge on the chamber webpage (see above) as well.

A golden spatula is awarded for each category to the top three restaurants. The cocktail category is new this year, widening the variety.

Brenda Devore, Community Engagement and Events Manager, said the goal of the contest is to bring more people into local restaurants during a less busy time of year. She said the Irish theme was chosen because St. Patrick’s Day is in the middle of the contest window.

The list of restaurants participating soon will be announced on social media at @IssaquahChamber and on the chamber’s website.

Devore said she expects many of the restaurants from last year will again take part this year. She said they also have expanded to include more restaurants from a wider area, not just in Issaquah.

Devore said it is “a great opportunity for chefs to shine” and for the chamber to share stories.

“They can share and create something new, and we celebrate them,” she said.

Overall, the chamber aims to spotlight local restaurants and get more people in the doors.

Devore said folks might see some tweaks to a particular restaurant’s classic favorites, but so far what she’s mostly seen are all new creations.

Last year’s winners were Levitate Gastropub, in the Best Appetizer category, and Vista Prime Steaks and Seafood (at Snoqualmie Casino), in the Best Dessert Category. Vista Prime Steaks and Seafood also won the People’s Choice award.

Last year, there was a requirement for either salmon or berry to be an ingredient in each dish, she said. There is no ingredient requirement this year, just the Irish theme.

“It’ll be interesting to see what they come up with,” Devore said.