Wine influence attracts quality restaurants

DINING

Two couples enjoy lunch in Newberg. Photo by Bill Miller.
Two couples enjoy lunch in Newberg. Photo by Bill Miller.

Fine wine and great food go hand in hand, so it's no surprise the Yamhill Valley has more than its share of excellent dining choices. Yes, some of them are high-end, including the tab, but what you get for the money doesn't disappoint.

Those seeking an haute cuisine evening will find the valley's best to be no more expensive than the most highly touted Portland restaurants. In fact, many are less costly while still delivering an exceptional food, service and ambience experience.

While some establishments put on the ritz, gour­met food at modest prices can be found in all sorts of styles around the valley. In addition, outstanding ethnic offerings, steaks, salads, pizzas, burgers, shakes and baked goods also can be found here.

Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, Spanish and Thai have all achieved superior expression locally. As for classic cocina from south of the border, the Yamhill Valley can count more Mexican restaurants than any other location in the state.

Not that evening meals have any exclusivity over other din­ing options. Breakfast, lunch and brunch are well represented as are family friendly and quick bite spots. And, for the most part, attire is decidedly Oregon casual.

But there's more to providing a great restaurant experience than simply cooking the food. Many of the valley's restaura­teurs maintain a connection to the land.

"We've been here long enough to see the Yamhill Valley evolve. The wine industry has brought with it a demand for good food and created a fine dining culture that didn't exist before," says Peter Kircher, owner of Golden Valley Brewery & Restaurant in McMinnville.

"I'm also proud to say that we were leaders in using farm-fresh ingredients. For years we made our own wine, and now we grow our own Angus beef," he says. "Combine all that with the rich agricultural base and a wonderfully supportive community and you have a place to work and live I wouldn't trade for anything."

"The biggest difference I noticed after coming to the val­ley from Portland was being outdoors way more often than in the city and feeling a closeness to the land," says Kend­all Bergström de Lancellotti of Farm to Fork restaurant in Dundee. "We've owned a vineyard for years so there's always been plenty of work, but the pace isn't as hectic and the en­vironment is so serene.

"From the restaurant standpoint, having immediate ac­cess to the growers and raisers of the produce and meats we use, finding people you really relate to, nothing is better than that."

Janet Bleck, owner of Subterra in Newberg, saw promise in the Yamhill Valley.

"We moved here from Miami. We had traveled extensively trying to decide where we wanted to relocate. When we came to the Yamhill Valley, we knew this was it," Janet says. "Being wine and food people, we could see the area's potential. It's already good and it's just going to get better. In fact, I think it's on the cusp of a culinary explosion."

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