Thursday, September 20, 2012

McMinnville and More

The planning commission got it right in historic McMinnville with the development and renewal of the downtown district which over the years has been transformed into a vibrant business area for merchants, artists, and visitors.  It's always worth the drive up Highway 99 to visit  their charming historic downtown and have breakfast at the Crescent Cafe. 
Although the Crescent is one of those unique eateries where you march to the tune of their drum it's worth every bit. First of all they only serve breakfast, they are only open from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm, (but luckily every day to the week),  the menu is somewhat limited, they will not split a check, and they will not except American Express.  And you have somewhat of a wait for your breakfast to be served after you’ve ordered it, but that’s because everything is made from scratch (as I said it's worth every bit).  Aside from the good food, there’s just something about the place that makes you want to come back for more.

To start with there is the host, a particularly fastidious gentleman, who manages to keep all the patrons served in an orderly manner and gets you started off in the right direction with the menu and the specials of the day.  The place is small, but charming, very well maintained with lots of wood, pleasing light fixtures and beautiful fresh cut flowers.  Breakfast is always worth the wait, but the outstanding (and I mean outstanding) feature is the bread which is made every morning in their kitchen.  Although you do have a long wait for your meal, you are allowed to linger long with no pressure to leave before you are ready.  And beware the place is usually packed.
Of course the Crescent is right smack in downtown McMinnville (probably my favorite small town in the Willamette Valley).  Known to be in the heart of the wine country, the downtown is overwhelming endowed with wine bars and really fine restaurants, plus the Mcmenamin’s Oregon Hotel (half a block from the Crescent). 

Needless to tell you, last Saturday I got one of those uncontrollable urges to visit the Crescent (with my gardening mate) and after having gorged ourselves on breakfast, had a delightful walk around downtown, peeking in all the shop windows and doors.  It’s a pretty friendly place where you stop and talk about dogs or hair styles or the weather with shop keepers and other McMinnvillites.  
Going on down Highway 99, the countryside is quite literally covered with small wineries and tasting rooms where you can just stop in, enjoy the scenery, taste a little wine, and have a nice chat with the staff .  I can tell you Oregon is not Sonoma – our wineries are pretty casual and comfortable for the most part.

One such winery south of Mac (that's what people call McMinnville) on Highway 99, named Left Coast Cellars, is particularly special, not just for the wines they produce (which are pretty special), but for the incredible park like setting they have created on the property. It’s a large acreage and they have tastefully landscaped the area (which includes a small lake) that runs beside the drive up to the winery and tasting room.  Stunning in the spring, lovely in the summer, and then in fall all you notice are the immaculately manicured vineyards with opulent bunches of black pinot noir grapes promising another fine year of great wine. 
The winery is worth the visit just for the drive up to the tasting room. And an inviting tasting room it is, well appointed in a sort of shabby chic motif.   Not only can you sample their very good wines, but they have a small café serving small plates such as figs and gorgonzola, dolmades (stuff grape leaves), caprice salad, or maybe some of Carolyn’s special carrot cake.  During the summer they offer live music on the patio on Saturday afternoons or you can take a walk on the well maintained hiking paths around the property.

All and all it’s a great place to be – somewhere on highway 99 between McMinnville and Corvallis!

Life is good! Bye for now.  Evelyn



janae king...sewing patterns said...

Hi Evelyn, Aimee directed me to your blog, and I'm happy to have found it. Your photos are wonderful, especially the one of the chicken. AND your recipes look fantastic. I'll be visiting often.

Evelyn Meadows said...

Thanks so much Janae. I actually got this idea from your quilting blog. I hope you visit often, you're always welcome. Evelyn