A few general things we noticed while dining out in Oregon… people are generally very nice but not chatty. Three times we were greeted at the door and expected to follow the hostess into the dining room without so much as head nod or “follow me!”. This is probably completely normal, but I am used to the uber-chatty South apparently.
w xyz aLoft Hotel bar—Our hotel had a nice bar with comfy couches and a good DJ, so when we arrived on Friday night, we changed out of our travel clothes and parked ourselves downstairs for a glass (or two) of Wine by Joe Pinot Noir and mojitos with a sugarcane stirrer. Pricey, yes, but the atmosphere was nice. I just wonder whatever happened to the couple with the dog who left their martini untouched?
Heidi’s—A full day of hiking calls for a filling breakfast, so the fact that Heidi’s was on our way east made it a great choice. All the waitresses were over 40, dressed like German maids and called us hon. My coffee cup never got less than half full (wheee!) and the food came out hot and quick. I ordered the crabby benedict which was absolutely tasty. Eric had a traditional breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast and there was nothing left on his plate either.
The Farm Cafe—All the online reviews of this place said it was very popular, so we were relieved to find parking right outside and snag one of two open tables early on Saturday night. We split a bottle of ’06 Dusted Valley Viognier which went beautifully with both my wild mushroom gnocchi and Eric’s butternut squash ravioli. Eric even sampled one of the mushrooms from my dish and declared it delicious, truly a magnificent feat! The cheeseball appetizer was nice but we needed extra bread to finish it off (which they supplied gratis). The waitstaff was very accommodating, even when we noticed an error in the price of the wine on our check.
Noble Rot—After dinner on Saturday night we drove a short distance away to this wine bar for an after dinner wine flight. I tried the OR Pinot Noir flight while Eric got fancy with a dessert wine flight. My flight was underwhelming as all the Pinots had a little too much licorice flavor for my tastes. The ’07 Jezebel was too light, the ’06 J Christopher “Charlie’s Vineyard” was strong on acetone and tannins and the ’06 Bethel Heights SE Block reminded me of a blondie. Eric fared a little better with his ’06 Elk Cove “Ultima” and ’05 Brooks late harvest Riesling. More importantly, we now find ourselves with the need for a bottle of ’04 Oremus “Kesoi Szuret” Tokaji, in case anyone is wondering what to get us for Christmas this year. :)
Petite Provence—We choose this place for breakfast on Sunday because we also wanted to pick up a few pastries to nibble on while wine tasting. The meal was good, I had berry (cranberries and blueberries mostly) french toast and Eric had a pesto omelet with chicken sausage and a potato pancake. Good, but Heidi’s was definitely better. However, Petite Provence is also a bakery, and the pastries we bought after breakfast were really good. The almond croissant was wonderful and Eric didn’t let me anywhere near the chocolate chip cookie, so it must have been good.
Golden Valley Brewery—By the time we got to McMinnville we weren’t very hungry, so after checking into our hotel we wandered around for a little while noticing that Sunday night was not option-rich for dinner. Because of my need to grow my pint glass collection, we grabbed a beer and fries as this brewery just as happy hour was ending. I found the porter to be satisfactory enough to wash down the spicy cajun fries.
McMenamins Pub—All we had to do for breakfast on Monday was walk downstairs! We each ordered a traditional breakfast of eggs, meat and toast and everything was good. Our waitress disappeared halfway through the meal, so I had to track someone down to refill my coffee, but overall it was a good start to a second day of wine tasting. The pub booths overlook the main street, so the people watching and fall color made for some nice breakfast entertainment.
Toro Bravo—A Spanish-themed tapas place in Portland. We arrived to a nearly empty restaurant on a Monday night and they sat us right next to another couple. I felt like I was back in Switzerland. To drink we split a pitcher of sangria and we each ordered two items of the tapas menu for dinner. We gradually came to realize that we had ordered way too much food. Now, I am not one to complain about large portions (this girl likes to eat), but this is a tapas place. People assume they are going to get small portions. Well, you know what assume spells and we could have made do with about 2.5 plates total.
The food was fairly good overall, Eric thought my patatas bravas sauce was better than theirs and the meatballs were a little bland, although the sauce was tasty. My hamburger was good but underseasoned and slightly less than the medium I ordered it at, so Eric wouldn’t help me eat it. My chicken liver mousse had good flavor but came out too chilly and there wasn’t nearly enough bread. Not terrible, but we won’t seek this place out on our next visit.