2 Days in McMinnville, OR
I know there have been recent posts on the McMinnville area but I culled a few of the winery/restaurant suggestions to figure out a concise plan of attack. Your opinions are much appreciated. Here goes:
Pick 2 for dinner (with the caveat that we like to drink quite a bit at dinner which would kill the potential of a longish drive):
Tina's (could be a bit too far)
OK, now it's on to wineries. We prefer the smaller, off-the-beaten-track wineries that make great wine. The closer the better but a car service for the day is not out of the question. Please pick your top 3:
Obviously, I may have missed a few great choices, especially in the winery are so any other suggestions are very welcome. We leave on Friday...can't wait to hear your opinions. Thanks in advance for all posts.
La Rambla is fantastic---I've eaten there a few times and have never been disappointed. Excellent wine list and knowedgeable sommelier. Bistro Maison is good also: standard French classics. Steak frites is my choice there. Skip the onion soup--the time I ordered it was a complete disappointment. I've had good moules there too but a friend had a different experience on a different day. Nick's food is OK... I only ate there once but I have to say that, though I'm willing to drop a boatload of money for a great meal, I sort of felt ripped off at Nick's. Hugely inflated wine prices were a turnoff, considering they're smack in the middle of wine county. Never tried Tina's. Have fun!
FYI, Cuneo (aka Canas Feast), Adelsheim, and Scott Paul do not require reservations (unless you are bringing more than four people to a tasting room, then it is polite to call ahead). Their tasting rooms are open to the public with regular hours. They will charge a small tasting fee which may or may not be waived with a purchase.
Belle Pente and La Bete do require reservations. There is an unwritten (and mostly unspoken) obligation to purchase bottles/cases where you make an appointment to taste wines. Just thought that I would put that out there as recently I have come across folks who did not know this...I'm not saying that you personally aren't aware of this.
Not sure about Lange, but I think they require reservations as well.
Based on recs on Chowhound, we ate at La Rambla, Bistro Maison and Crescent Cafe over Thanksgiving weekend (the wineries are all open that weekend). I agree with afrikando - La Rambla is fantastic. Great tapas restaurant, lovely atmosphere, great service, extensive wine list, large portions for a tapas bar. We had such an excellent lunch there (including perfect sangria) that we came close to making a dinner reservation to come back the same day for paella. We raved about our crab cakes, salads, peppers stuffed with cheese, and an amazing bean soup. I wish we had returned - went to Bistro Maison instead. It was a good french bistro - the frites were the best thing we ordered. I wouldn't call it great. It is in a house and the noise levels were horrible. The waitress had memorized the appetizer and specials list, and literally we could have read along with the menu. It's a little pretentious for our taste. Went to the Crescent Cafe for breakfast. Wow - it's incredible. Organic ingredients, great service, and nice twist on the traditional dishes - biscuits and gravy were made with chicken, one of us had a chicken hash, amazing fritatas, strong coffee, cozy atmosphere beautifully decorated for the holidays. You're going to wait in line unless you get there early. I'd definitely try it for lunch. If you're closer to Dayton, I'd definitely go to Joel Palmer house and get the mushroom extravaganza. You'll have wild dreams - that's for sure.
We love visiting Eyrie (put pinot on the map), Elk Cove (view) and Ponzi (historic). Erath is another pioneer. All things being equal, you can hardly go wrong with great wineries in McMinnville. Domain Drouhin is another.
Check out Black Walnut Inn for lodging on a future visit.
We love to catch a late lunch at Dundee Bistro, next to the Ponzi tasting room. La Rambla is another favorite.
Make occasional trips down there, so my impressions are all at least a year out of date, but:
> Joel Palmer was terrific, especially if you love mushrooms.
>Tina's serves good food, but only so-so in the atmosphere dept.
> Red Hills Provincial Dining was also excellent.
> Scott Paul would be my best rec of the wineries you have listed. However, Carlton has 5+ within about 5 blocks, so I would encourage you to explore. I'm also very fond of Penner-Ash and Hamacher.
I've had a couple of great experiences at Bistro Maison, and frequently meet friends for lunch at the Golden Valley Brew Pub.
I agree with the last poster about the Joel Palmer House, I'm not fond of mushrooms, but we went there for my mother's birthday, and I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I loved some of the dishes. However, based on your requirements, it'd be too far to stumble home after a few drinks.