First a disclaimer and short intro--I'm not a writer. I can't express myself that well. I lurk and learn so much but mostly don't feel like I get around enough (dining wise) or express myself in an entertaining way worthy of posting. I spend my time supervising the lives of three children and cooking good food well (not well done!) in a day after day fashion. I would say my food forte right now leans towards quality sourcing of ingredients in large family quantities and getting them to the table in interesting ways with a one year old hooked onto my leg saying "Wiggles" over and over.
BUT, I need to, have to post about the Nehalem River Inn on the Oregon Coast and the meal I had this weekend. I don't think I've ever had more flawlessly executed food. It was beautiful. It's perfection even penetrated my husband's disinterest in culinary detail. It was hot. It was SEARED. It was pretty. It tasted good. (See, not an eloquent writer).
The first course: him--Organic Citrus Green Salad with manchego Cheese and Fennel $7. Me- Baby Spinach and Wild Arugula Salad with pepitas, Black Currants, Israeli Cous Cous and Tarragon Aioli $7. My impression of the salads was that they had the most beautiful light touch. I was in awe of the tenderness of my greens. The cous cous (the large pearls) added a whimsical textural touch rather than taste element and was fun. I'm a farmer's market afficionado but this was sourcing above and beyond that level. The dressings were light and lovely without any zinging and zapping.
Entree--him-Painted Hills NY Steak, Aged White Cheddar Potato Gratin, French Horn Mushrooms, Brie, Organic Chard $27. Me. Sauteed Spring Chinook Salmon. Red Wine Butter, Jasmine Rice Portabello Mushroom, Roasted Red pepper Coulis $27. Both were lovely tasty, hot plates but what struck me was the beatiful, dark, deep sear on both. A big hurdle for me is whether the food is better than what I can cook. In restaurants, presentation is always better than mine, often the prepartion is more detailed, sometimes they use tools I don't have (high heat broilers) but I mostly win on ingredient quality and sometimes even technique and almost always on value. This meal at Nehalem River Inn embarasses me that I even thought I knew how to cook! I could not replicate these dishes or less fussy but just as tasty alternatives by a long shot.
Dessert--him-Flourless Chocolate Cake. me-citrus panna cotta w/ fresh berries and cream. $6 each. I cringe when people order flourless chocolate cake. Two thumbs down on the general principal unless your meal was bad and you need some filling and binding. But here we go again--it was fudgy and airy at the same time. How can that be? With thin, crispy, crackly outer edges like a brownie top. Mine-lovely.
Add a split of Champagne and the check totaled $86. We don't know wine so no comment on the list. Oh yeah, and the service--friendly, fine, comfortable, and tasteful. My only small, small dig was the server took my hubby's plate a little too quickly after he was done. I don't know what fine dining service dictates regarding that--I think proper is leaving the dirty dishes until all diners in the party are finished but I believe I would have much opposition on all fronts. It's a pet peeve of mine but this didn't even come close to peeving me.
So drive 15 minutes away from you day at the beach in Manzanita and give these professionals your dining dollar