Eating in Columbia Valley
My husband and I are going to Willamette Valley and Columbia Valley for about a week to do some wine tasting. We're used to going to Napa and Sonoma where great food is in abundance. But in trying to plan our trip to Columbia Valley (specifically Yakima, Hood River, Prosser, and Walla Walla) we can't seem to find much. Many websites i've looked a have either offered good fast food, or something like olive garden. Can anyone help recommend some really good, unique restaurants specific to the Pacific Northwest? It doesn't all have to be fancy, but i wasn't quite looking for buffet food as was recommended to us on a lot of websites!
There is also a new addition to the walla walla food and wine scene as of a week ago, a place called brasserie four, smaller portions but they have a nice wine bar, if you're into the french brasserie style of cooking.
Saffron is another solid choice. but come early and beware of the very loud dining room and cramped space.
In the Tri Cities area, there is a restaurant in the Tagaris winery that does quite a good job. the only downside is that they only serve the wine from Tagaris winery, which isnt as good as some of the other options around.
If you're getting sick of wine, try atomic brewing and Pizza, located in an old A&W building in richland. cramped space again, but good house made beers and some solid pie.
As mentioned, Saffron Med. Kitchen and Patit Creek are probably the best you'll find in southeast WA. The Marc Restaurant in the Marcus Whitman can also be quite good, as can 26 Brix, but the latter can be hit & miss. If you're going to spend time at some of the Walla Walla wineries, I can't recommend grabbing some cheese and salami at Salumiere Cesario
enough. Amazing selection including quite a few Salumi imports. That's a must stop for any trip to the area for us.
In the Tri-Cities, you're very limited. Anthony's is probably as good as it gets. Just how good that is often depends on how much you've had to drink. Sorry.
Don't know much about Prosser. Chuckar Cherries is usually the only time we slow down around Prosser.
Yakima dining is quite depressing. We were just there a few weeks ago and on the recommendations found on this board, we tried dinner at Greystone. It would have been difficult to be more disappointed. Absolutely no redeeming value in this place. I'd suggest setting the expectations of fine dining a little lower and hitting The Barrel House: Simple menu but they do it better. If you need a big, greasy breakfast to soak up the wine and get you started, try Waffles Cafe. Thats exactly what you'll get. If you need a dive gutbomb while you're in the area, hit Miner's for a really good diner burger.
Hood River - Hit the brewery.
In the Willamette, you've got much better choices. Most of which have already been mentioned. You really can't go wrong and I'll throw Tina's in there as well. But, imo, it's The Painted Lady and then the others. All are enjoyable, but the Painted Lady (actually in Newberg on College Street) stands out.
For wineries, you can do well throughout the Willamette. Plenty of great ones to try. Likewise, quite a few great wineries in Walla Walla within a very small area. Outside of town to the west, I'd highly suggest making an appointment at Longshadows.
Between Walla Walla and the Willamette, there are a lot of wineries, but the quality is much lower. You can do pretty well on Red Mountain (Tapteil, Fidelitas), but as you travel west towards Yakima, you will end up hitting a lot more touristy wineries making bad wine. Exceptions to this are Sheridan and Cote Bonneville (The Dubrul vineyard - you'll need an appointment), both of which making some exceptional wines. I'd consider Agate Field and Wineglass to be the 2nd tier in the Yakima. After that, meh.
One great aspect of tasting in Willamette Valley is that many good wineries are really not that far from Portland (like one hour or less). Three weeks ago, I reached Ponzi on the outskirts of Beaverton from central Portland in like 35 minutes. This makes the prospect of tasting several wineries for a day and then dining at one of Portland's best spots an unhurried and pleasurable prospect.
Unfortuantely, this is not true for the Columbia Valley vis a vis Seattle, and the Woodinville wine scene is a series of warehouses which lack the bucolic ambiance that many would expect from a tasting experience.
No doubt about it: You can certainly spend the day at the wineries and then return to Portland for dinner. Sometimes this works well simply because the wineries close at 5 or before and who wants to eat at 5? Nevertheless, I think there are restaurants in the Valley that would give many of Portland's restaurants a run for their money.
You certainly don't go to Woodinville for the scenic wineries, but there are some high quality winemakers there. Then you can just grab dinner at the Herb Farm and forget about the warehouses.
There used to be a restaurant in a residential house in White Salmon. Does such a place still exist?
At that time there was also a noveau type place up the hill at the western end of the then tiny town of Hood River.
AND...one last memory, a local pub grub place served a rocky mountain oyster feed once a week.
I can't remember any of the names but am interested in visiting once again so I need your help.
I second the suggestion of Cuvee in Carlton, and would highly recommend the Painted Lady in Dundee. .Try Crescent City Cafe in McMinnville for breakfast. The Good RIver restaurant in Mosier has some nice buzz, as does Celilo in Hood River, but I have not been to either. Good luck!
I just came back from a few days in Walla Walla and I highly recommend Saffron in Walla Walla and Patit Creek in Dayton (about half an hour north of Walla Walla). Saffron has a small plates menu that was wonderful and Patit Creek has great NW entree items. Both places will require reservations, especially on the weekend.
Make sure you stop by K Vintners for some great blends and Syrahs.
In the Willamette Valley I'd recommend Bistro Maison in McMinville, Cuvee in Carlton, Red Hills Provincial Dining in Dundee, and Joel Palmer House in Dayton. First three are french oriented and Joel Palmer House specializes in mushrooms & truffles.