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Food and fun: Central Oregon Coast

Such LUXURY to have a whole 4 days off! I am going to tell you about the foods we ate and the places we ate them at, and I will include the web sites whenever I can find them. I am not going into grand-scale detail, if you want to know more, just ask. I also want to encourage you to search the names of the locations that interest you because you can find other great sites to visit as well. For example I was checking to find a web site for one of the restaurants and came across this fun travelogue site:www.weloveourlife.com. I can understand why they love their life!

We got to the Surfrider Resort (check out the last post for a few details) around 6 and were a bit tired so decided to eat at a past favorite:The Italian Riveria, which is right across the highway. Now, we have already ascertained that I am a ‘food snob’, so I can tell you that when it comes to Italian food, I am even worse. Italian food is so much more than what most Americans think of and so many ‘Italian’ restaurants get it so wrong. The Italian Riviera gets it so right! The offer an eclectic menu, making items from Tuscany as well as Sicily and Naples. When they say they offer Tuscan bread, they really do! There was no detectable salt in the bread, and THAT is traditional. They also inject a bit of the Oregon Coast into their menu, and they do it well. The roasted garlic appetizer is SOOO good! A plate absolutely full of roasted garlic cloves that were creamy and warm and melt-in-my-mouth perfect. Served with a round of chevre rolled in sun-dried tomato paste, and warm tuscan bread: well we got real quiet, real fast, expect for the yummy noises. The food is fresh, most of it homemade, and all of it done well. It is always nice to go back to an old favorite and find out that it is still really great!

Breakfast was at the Surfrider Resort and again, revisiting old favorites paid off. Razor clams and eggs for breakfast is so good! They do your standard, appeal to as many folks as possible, Oregon coast seafood fare, and they do it well. The service is good and the food is great and the coffee, well, not so much.

We went in to Depoe Bay and discovered the Pirate Coffee Company. They roast their own and have a great little coffee shop. We met the owners, very generous, friendly folks who obviously enjoy what they do. And great coffee, to boot! Also some fabulous homemade chocolate confections that are made by a local Oregon State Trooper-turned-chocolatier (He still does both jobs), but I can’t for the life of me remember the name and I can’t find it on the web, so you will have to go check it out in person.

We studied our options for Friday’s dinner and neither of us had a strong preference so we decided to go to Nye Beach, where at least 3 excellent options awaited us (Quimby’s, April’s and the mystery place) and we would choose by posted menu and available seating. There was one restaurant we could not remember the name of, but since it is relatively new we would know it when we saw it, right? We have been going to Nye Beach on a regular basis since 1993, and not much ever really changed about the place. A little development here, an improvement over there… the usual. We have not been there since February of 2006, (we bought a cafe…) and in those 2.5 years there has been massive amounts of growth and change! Old buildings have been renovated and new buildings built… it was so weird to pull in and see all of the new condos and shops. It was neat to see and a bit sad at the same time. I hope it is GREAT for their economy, and I will miss the old flavor of the place now that it has been ‘discovered’.

We could not find the main restaurant we were looking for. In our circling around and going up and down all the streets, Mark noticed a small sign on a building that he was sure said something about a restaurant. So just when we had decided to head over to April’s (no web site, fantastic food: 749 NW Third Street, 541-265-6855) Mark said he wanted another look at that sign. So we drove to ARR Place Restaurant. I guarantee you tourists do not go here. ARR Place does not advertise, they are not listed on the Lincoln County, Nye Beach or Newport web sites, the sign is small, they are on a dead end off of a side road, and I only found a few travel sitesthat mention them. ARR is for the owners Aimee, Robert and their daughter and sometimes helper Rebecca. They have had a restaurant in Nye Beach for 11 years and we hadn’t found it yet! This is their 2nd location, the first being where April’s is now. (I remember seeing it there…) We decided suddenly that we would do a ‘progressive’ dinner and hit a few spots, having a different course at each, and therefore experiencing more places. We went into ARR Place to have appetizers and a glass of wine. (They serve a bit of premium liquor as well.)

This couple is doing the restaurant thing the way they want to do it. It is kitchy and fun and with only a few tables and a long bar to sit at, you may end up sharing your table if there is room and others are waiting. The kitchen is wide open so you get to see everything and they can see you. There is a short printed menu to get you started, but the main menu is on a chalkboard and changes with the seasons and their whims. This is a standout place and I LOVE it! (It says: If you want water ask for it, and if you ask for it drink it!) Aside from being fresh, seasonal, homemade and sourced locally, the food is creative, abundant and delicious! The “Chinese BBQ” chicken skewers with hot mustard sauce were tender and flavorful, and the ‘Tortilla Cake’ was so innovative! I have never seen anything like it before and with a bit of Chinese 5-spice it was also surprising. Our appetizers were very unique and so good that we shared a bite with the neighboring table who was admiring our food (We were so comfortable there, I could have move in!) and we instantly decided to stay for a whole dinner. Some homemade pasta and bread, an amazing steak perfectly cooked, and we took dessert to go for the next night’s dinner in our room. (I am so sad that I never got to eat my creme caramel because our room refrigerator got turned off somehow and it was in there over night with no cooling. sigh.)

Cafe Stephanie was our pick for Saturday Breakfast and while it is another small place and quite packed, we had no trouble getting a table. We shared a couple of menu items and they were very good, the juice was fresh-squeezed and the baked goods were fresh. It was new to us and a good find.

If you want the best baked goods in the area though, you go to Panini Bakery and you get there early. Just like our place, once they sell out for the day it’s gone until tomorrow. Wonderful breads and pastries and then later in the day they do pizzas, whole and by the slice. This little storefront is worth the stop in Nye Beach alone.

SIDENOTE: Remember, I am on crutches this whole time and it is my big idea that today is the day I can finally put some weight on my fractured foot (per the doctor!) and I intend to take my first steps out on the beach. Nye beach has some rocks with tide pools (yay!) and a great stretch of sand to get out on. I took off my cast and tried to put on my shoe and no way was this going to work. DANGIT! Mark had known all along it wouldn’t work, and also knew that he had to let me try it my way or I would do it anyway and end up hurting myself just to spite the universe. He gently assuaged my disappointment while he helped me back into the cast and helped me get out to a log in the sand where we sat for about an hour watching people and dogs and waves and birds. It was really nice out, foggy and sunny and warm with a cold breeze.. Perfect.

Our lunch stop was to be the Chowder Bowl at Bye Beach. Of course every place along the coast does great chowder. It is a point of pride and if your chowder sucks people will go next door where it doesn’t. The Chowder Bowl in Nye Beach (not to be confused with any other Chowder Bowl restaurant, anywhere else) was, in years past, my ULTIMATE CHOWDER EXPERIENCE. We would go in and each order a bowl (sweet bliss), and split an order of fish and chips, and roll out happy and full. It was a dive, and their food was amazing. A few years ago they had a fire at the Chowder Bowl and had to rebuild. It was sad for them, but they maximized their funds and made it into a cute seaside restaurant with bead-boarded walls and an outdoor patio. It looks clean and fresh and I am sure it is far more appealing to the many tourists that are down there now (and never were before). I like dives. Atmosphere aside, we ordered our usual and it was all very good. I still recommend that you go there and get some great food. It has lost a bit of it’s charm for me (you have nothing to lose and I bet you will think it’s adorable) and the chowder was great, but not quite as good as it used to be. The fish and chips actually were not good (I think it was a fluke), and the service was not good either, but I don’t hold that against a place. It was very busy in there and everyone had chowder, proving that it is still a great place to eat.

Mark had read about a place that has sourdough pancakes. Mark LOVES sourdough pancakes and only finds them once in a very long while. Mark says that while he was ‘growing up’ his mom made the BEST sourdough pancakes in the world, and that she could have a restaurant that only sold those pancakes, and it would be full every day. So on our way out of town we stopped at the Otis Cafe, in Otis, OR. It is a tiny little blip (6 tables, 6 counter seats) that puts out massive amounts of homemade food. It is old-timey and homey, the breads are homemade, as is everything else there, and you will have to wait for a table. It is worth the wait. I don’t care how many people you are waiting behind. Breakfast and lunch are served all day and Dinner starts at 5. If you are within 50 miles of this place, go there, you will not regret it. We ate my leftovers for breakfast this morning, along with some of their molasses bread that we brought home. Mmmmm! Mark did mention that the sourdough pancakes do not stand up to his mom’s, so if that is what you want maybe we can hook you up at Sandy’s in Maple Valley.

Other places in the area where we love to eat, and did not get to on this trip:
If you like beer, check out the Rogue Brewery. We seem to get lucky alot and on this trip they were having their annual ‘garage sale’ so we got a great deal on a couple of cases. We love great deals! We would have gone there to eat if we had stayed longer, they have really good food and a fun atmosphere.
Canyon Way Bookstore & Restaurant is indeed a bookstore, and a fine dining establishment. We were there once for Valentine’s day and fell in love with the place. It was in the top running for dinner the night we went to ARR Place, and we will go back there some day.

In Lincoln City I love Eleanor’s Undertow Cafe & Ice Cream Parlor. They cook their fish and chips in hot air, not oil, and the hot-pink building is almost as bright as our yellow! High quality food, right across from the big chain Mo’s and I think it’s better.

So there you go, lots of eating and reminiscing and the only thing I didn’t get that I wanted was some popcorn. I love popcorn!

Where did you eat this weekend? Where do you love to go? Where do you wish you could go back to? Talk to me!