Restaurants & Bars 9

Oregon Coast report

Peter | Mar 25, 2004 07:33 PM

We finally made it to the Oregon Coast: too long we have moldered away in Olympia distracted by other things. A major objective, beyond communing in some primal way with saltwater, repetitive wave motion, basalt and limestone outcroppings, etc., was eating. We followed Chowhound guidance most of the time, with mixed but mostly positive results.

Day 1: Late breakfast at the Otis Café. OK, this place looks like it might have been a find once upon a time, and perhaps it shines even now, but not the hour we dropped in. Our two omelettes were both leaden, and the potato, onion and cheese creation, much praised by others it seems, was no better. The molasses bread had flavor, but the gummy texture was not improved by half-toasting. A big disappointment.

Dinner at Tables of Content, the restaurant inside the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport. We stayed at the hotel, which is a trip, and dinner was pretty good. It is served family style; the only variation is in the main course. I very much liked the vegetable medley, which included tender-crisp fiddleheads (yum), along with the penne in pesto. The halibut in coriander sauce did not strike me as memorable, although my partner was much happier with it. Desert was an ordinary crisp, with not quite enough fruit. The price for all of this was extremely reasonable, however: $19. (And I left out the salad and other nibbles and noshes.)

Day 2: Breakfast at the Hotel. It is included with the room, so why not? It was all sugar and carbs: cakes and sweetbreads and bars and pancakes. Little kids (who are not allowed to stay there) would go wild.

Late lunch-dinner at Canyon Way, still in Newport. I would never have thought to go there had it not been for you hounds. Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is quite a find: the food is wonderful, the atmosphere, well, interesting, and the prices are reasonable, considering. I loved the mussel appetizer with artichokes, capers, olives and tomatoes, and the shrimp-stuffed snapper smothered in mustard buerre-blanc was a winner. My partner’s pork chops stuffed with crab had nice flavor, but the chops were overcooked. Dessert was a decadent, truly wonderful mousse-cream-hazelnut-chocolate-ganache thing, poetry in goo. Altogether scrumptious. We could barely walk out. (The attached bookstore, by the way, has an interesting selection of small-press titles of local interest.)

Day 3: Breakfast at the Whale’s Tale. Another great place, with a well-executed mainstream menu. Egg dishes were reliable, but the potatoes really hit the spot. (I really appreciate good potatoes.) I substituted one of the poppy seed pancakes in place of a muffin and was not disappointed. They are tasty and different. (It would be nice if real maple syrup were provided without a markup, however, since $1.50 seems like a lot to pay for bathing a single cake.) The owner was a fine chattering companion; don’t miss the vintage 1976 photo of him and his crew hanging up in the bathroom.

That was it for Newport, but I felt like I could have spent a lot more time sampling the local eateries. Has anyone tried the deli across from the Sylvia Beach Hotel (and next to April’s)? Their lunch menu looked intriguing.

Now up the coast to Lincoln City, where we stopped for the night. One reason for selecting this town was the opportunity to eat at the Blackfish Café, but no go; it is closed on Tuesdays, and this was a Tuesday. Alas... So we went for option #2, which was Kyllo’s, also touted on this site. After eating there, I honestly can’t imagine why. The menu is dull, mostly minimal-inspiration pub food, and it is cooked in a heavy, dull most-of-our-clients-are-too-soused-to-tell-the-difference sort of way. No point even discussing it; this place doesn’t have any ambitions at all.

Day 4: Breakfast at Wildflower Grill, another recommended spot. This was solid, slightly pricey breakfast fare, perfectly acceptable but not more than that. I had a satisfying veggie omelette, and my partner had the special with bacon. Good news: the hashbrowns were tasty. Bad news: the bacon strips had been pre-cooked and reheated, destroying their texture. The view from the back deck, overlooking a small swamp, is delightful, especially when the skunk cabbage is in bloom!

Further up the coast, after an interesting beach adventure involving a storm that came up out of nowhere, we settled into the Pelican brewpub in Pacific City. They occupy a gorgeous site along the water (OK, there are lots of gorgeous sites all up and down the coast), and their beer ranges from good to extraordinary. Their IPA may be the finest I’ve ever tasted, and the Doryman’s Ale is not far below. Halibut and chips were perfect: absolutely fresh, lightly breaded and cooked, explosive with juicy fishy flavor. Their oysters and the half-shell were cooked, which is OK by me, especially since they were just barely heated through and doused with lemon, butter and garlic. The place was packed (justifiably), and I wouldn’t be surprised if they stay packed after their remodel with fare of that caliber.

So we continued on in a northerly direction and decided to have one last blast of seafood when we hit Ocean City. We stopped at Roseanna’s and scarfed a half dozen oysters. These were breaded in panko and very lightly fried, just right. Interestingly, the critters hailed from Wallapa Bay, even though there are extensive oyster beds in the local area. We heard a story about runoff from the dairy farms, high coliform readings, periodic shutdowns, etc. Our final splurge was a marionberry cobbler with a small (very small) scoop of Tillamook ice cream, a nice way to bring this coastal journey to a close. (Assessment: the food at Roseanna’s is basically coastal in content and seems to be well-prepared, although a bit pricey. I would go back again if I were in the area.)

So there you have it: two glaring misses but mostly hits. Thank you, chow-people, for your guidance along the way.

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