Visiting the Willamette Valley for the first time in September !!!
Please share your ideas. We have 4 days. Staying in Salem-I think. Plan on using a limo every day for Tasting/Lunch and Dinner. Would love your ideas on:
Even your favorite place to stay
What not to miss.
Thank you so much , P&D
Not getting much of a response, are you. Perhaps this needs to be brought over to the Pacific Northwest thread. There are some pretty well informed responses on this topic from past inquiries. The consensus is that most better restaurants are concentrated around McMinnville and Dundee and I wouldn't argue that point. I'm just not familiar with those options.
We live in Salem and take out of area visitors to two restaurants both of which I can heartily recommend. One is The Joel Palmer House in Dayton. They specialize in fungi, mushrooms and now truffles. It's unique and really is representative of the finest local cuisine. Folks from other parts of the country always respond very favorably when we take them there. Pretty spendy but pretty good.
Our favorite spot though is The Crooked House Bistro in West Salem. We've known the owner and chef for quite some time now. It's a cozy spot with a menu that changes constantly. Bernard takes tremendous (and justified) pride in his restaurant. It's more than a meal; more like a quick trip to a small spot in France. We spend two to three hours savoring several courses and the general ambiance and hospitality. He's got a small but lovely selection of wines from France and from the Oregon wine country. I don't know why he doesn't get more attention on this forum except that he's in Salem, a town not generally noted for exceptional casual French country style dining.
Maybe this will get the ball rolling :).
Hope you have a great visit. September will be a wonderful time to visit our area!
More specific questions will get you better responses. Such as, where in wine country do you want to go? Any AVAs in particular? Are you looking for restautants in wine country or in Portland? Are you looking for things not to miss in Portland?
Why do you want to stay in Salem? I'd either stay in wine country or in Portland.
I understand zenon5's post - you posted on a Portland board, yet it is unclear if you are looking for stuff in Portland. Also, I would look at a lot of recent requests for restaurants in Portland, and ask us questions about which ones you might want to visit on what days for which meals...if you are going to be in wine country all day, breakfast or lunch in Portland is silly unless you are staying in Portland. And most of us here in Portland don't go to Salem to eat and drink, so we have no idea what is good in Salem. Help us help you!
If you're looking to taste amazing Pinot: Broadley, Soter, Sokol Blossor, Domaine Serene and Et Fille are some of my faves. Several of those (as well as many of our smaller producers) are by appointment only. Call ahead.
Carlton Winemakers Studio is a good visit; you could probably spend an afternoon there.
Torii Mor has a nice room, open most days of the week, and they make wines outside of the region if you need a break from Pinot.
Be careful with some of the producers that are open on a drop in basis. I've tasted in Burgundy, Napa and Sonoma and have never seen such outrageous tasting fees as I have in the Willamette Valley. Penner Ash and Adelsheim in particular are offenders; $20-$25, small pours, and neither apply the fee towards bottles purchased. (Both make nice wine though, just try them in town at a wine bar not at the tasting room)
If it was me, I would either stay around McMinnville / Newberg if I wanted a quiet wine country vacation, or in Portland if I wanted to have fun at night.
I stayed in Carlton when I visited Willamette Valley a few years ago. I loved it! Super quaint and you can spend a day just in Carlton wine tasting -- no driving needed! There are wineries and tasting rooms right in town. Some highlights off the top of my head are Tyrus Evan, Scott Paul, and Ken Wright (although I believe he's only open at certain times). I would also recommend driving just a bit outside of town to the Carlton Winemakers Studio http://www.winemakersstudio.com/. It houses a bunch of excellent independent winemakers. They are all great but I really love the wines Andrew Rich is making (I believe he was at Bonny Doon before venturing out on his own).
I like Argyle for bubbles.
I ate at The Joel Palmer House. It didn't blow my mind but it was a great experience and really does represent local cuisine (as zenon5 said). I did the mushroom tasting menu, and while it was great, it was a bit much for me. But I just like mushrooms, I don't love them.
When I stayed in Carlton I stayed at a Carlton Cottage and LOVED it. http://www.carltoncottages.com/#!vaca... They used to have 3 cute houses, now it looks like they just have one. (I know they had restored the houses and then tried to sell them but because of the bad housing market, turned them into rentals. Looks like maybe they ended up selling 2 of the 3.) It was beautifully restored and the kitchen was amazing. I was envious of the back garden and chickens, and we were encouraged to use the eggs from the chickens and cook up anything we wanted from the garden. Which we did.
You'll have a great time exploring the area. If I think of any other highlights I'll post back.
And make sure you stop and eat in Portland! That city oozes amazing food. And great craft spirits and bars! I had a blast and learned so much doing a self-guided tasting on Distillery Row http://www.distilleryrowpdx.com/.
In wine country you could eat at the Painted Lady in Newburg. It's a lovely little place with great meals. Paulee restaurant should be open in Dundee by the time you visit and Dan Mondok is one of the best chefs in Oregon. There is also the Jory in Newberg but that's been getting mixed reviews lately. Have a wonderful time on your visit.
I would stay at The Allison Inn & Spa where Jory is. We have stayed there twice, it is a beautiful property with large, spacous rooms and beautiful soaking tubs. We like the rooms on the bottom floor that open out to the patio. We have had very good experiences with Jory, I have ordered their room service also which was nice.
One of our favorites in this area is Red Hills Provencial Dining. The food is garden fresh and the space is cozy and comfortable. We also like Dundee Bistro where you can sample Ponzi wines. They have a tasting room adjacent to the restaurant, so you may want to plan your meal for when that is open. :)
The best place to stay in Salem is the Grand Hotel which also has a good restaurant. It's also within 45 minutes of the lion's share of the Willamette Valley's wineries.
You give no hint as to what cuisines you prefer so I'll just lay out some of my top local picks. Steak and Seafood: Jonathan's. Italian: Gamberetti's or DaVinci. Greek: Macedonia. Mexican: La Margarita. Tapas: Andaluz. Sushi/Japanese: Fuji Rice Time. Chinese: Kwan's. Vietnamese: Saigon. Thai: Thai Orchid.
I've intentionally selected good places which are all within a few blocks of the Grand Hotel. I look forward to your trip report.