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Eugene Report (longish) and Thanks Chowhounds!

bonniehr | Sep 21, 200401:53 PM

I spent six weeks in Eugene over the summer, am going back in a few weeks, and got some good tips from the Chowhound board. Here are my comments on the places I went while I was there (and would or would not go back). These are not in any particular order, just as I thot of them.

Misako Sushi: Another consultant and I are both sushi hounds and agreed this was our favorite. One of the chefs there, (Taro), is funny and was happy to make suggestions. The fish and rolls were fresh and well-made. Will definitely go back.

Cafe Soriah: Spouse and I ate there only once, for lunch. Had a lunch special with sauteed salmon and a blueberry sauce that was excellent! small portions, but good quality, good price and cute patio. Good dark walnut bread, too, that came with the meal (not sure if they always have this). Would like to try for dinner.

Cafe Zenon: This place is me, very inconsistent. I had a sauteed trout here one night, and while the trout was good, it had way too much butter and the butter was kind of overly browned for a trout dish. The service a couple of times was almost non-existent. i.e, they brought the wrong dish and I just decided to eat it, b/c they never came back. I had ordered a special of sauteed chicken livers, and they brought chicken liver pate, which I do like as well, but it was very soft and seemed like it might have been around a little too long. And I am pretty laid-back about service. But, one of the most beautiful, amazing desert cases I have ever seen. I would go here and sit outside on their patio just for the desert. Good wine list, too. Their bread is from the Palace Bakery, and it is excellent.

Marche: I am going to disagree here with several and say this place, to me, seems extremely over rated. One night I ordered a goat cheese souffle entree that was almost $20.00 and I am sad to say it was about 2 inches wide by 3 inches tall, very dried out, and tasted about as good as microwave scrambled eggs. If there was any goat cheese, it was so well-incorporated you coudn't see it or taste it. But I also had some great steamed mussels here as well, and the staff was very, very friendly. I just think you have to spend too much here for what you get. It's not bad, just OK, and with more than OK-level prices. Probably would not go back.

Lucky Noodle: This place is a little weird. It's clearly ultra-trendy. The mix of Italian and Asian noodle dishes seemed strange. Once I had an Italian ravioli dish that was very bland cheese with way-too-garlicky pesto, but once I had the shrimp pad thai and it was great - everything was separate (i.e., good well-cooked noodles, pieces of basil, bean sprounts, pieces of egg and veg - so not an overcooked mish mash, which happens too often with pad thai), and it had tons of shrimp in it. The salads were very fresh and well-dressed both times. I tried to order the sweet-potato ravioli a couple of times and they were always "out." Not sure if I would go back. I was staying at the Campbell house part of the time, so it was convenient for dinner.

Adam's Place: We went here for a special evening out and had a great time. It's kind of continental, not very exciting or daring, but pleasant environment and solidly good. Their menu changes, but I had a roasted chicken thing that was excellent, and my husband had a halibut dish he really liked. The chocolate volcano cake that you have to pre-order was VERY good. My husband doesn't like desert very much and he was fighting me for the last few bites. I know everybody does this molten cake thing, but done well, it is a great thing, and they did do it well.

Ring of Fire: Ate here twice, and both times I thought it was great. The crispy tofu, and beef and chicken satays were a big hit with a group. They handled an 8-person group really well. Someone on the board had raved about a particular yellow curry with apples and potatoes. I ordered this, as I thought the concept had great potential, but the potatoes were not all the way cooked which was a detraction for me, though the curry sauce itself was delicious. On the other hand, one interesting thing was that with the chicken currys, they had used whole boneless chicken thighs instead of chunks, so you cut it up yourself, and I liked this a lot. Other people in the group had gone to Chao Priya, which I didn't, and thought it was better. One person in our group ordered a chinese dish from the smallish chinese section on the menu, something like sauteed beef and peppers, and it stood out as being really bland, not nearly as good as the thai-style dishes; the beef looked boiled instead of sauteed. One warning, if you order "hot" here, they do make it hot. My husband loves hot stuff and he was gasping. The "specialty cocktails" are delicious - they squeeze their own juices for them, and you can tell.

Sweetwaters at Valley River Inn: heinous hotel food, heinous prices, ridiculously snobby service, do not bother, even if you're staying at VR Inn.

Ambrosia: I thought was OK, but not a stand out, kinda boring Italian pasta/pizza. Nice streetside patio though, and they let our dog sit with us on the patio.

Sushi Station: this is one of those "river of sushi" conveyor belt things. which is fun, but.... this place just keeps putting the same stuff over and over, and it is only OK. Just go to Misako if you want sushi, IMHO.

Steelhead Brewery: There a bunch of these kind of places in Austin, so I find it kind of "chainish" even though I think there are only three of these "steelhead" ones in the pacific nwest. I'm not a big beer drinker, so maybe I'm missing the point. Had a very forgettable chicken caesar salad, and another time a pretty good mushroom/swiss burger, good beef and the mushrooms tasted like mushrooms and the bread was crispy around the edges, not soggy from the mushrooms (I hate soggy bread.) I ordered onion rings as they were supposed to be "beer-battered" but I thought there was too much batter and they were not very hot or crispy. The extra-spicy root beer was quite nice. Maybe go here for a root beer float for desert.

Those are the high points and or low points - again, thanks to chow hounds, and let me know if I missed any other Eugene places that I must try when I go back. (I will try Chao Priya).

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