Features
A young couple in love walk on the Oregon coast near Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. ##Photo by Andrea Johnson.
Looking Glass Inn is one of the few Lincoln City hotels located in the historic Taft District. ##Photo provided.
Guests sit down for an unforgettable culinary experience at one of the best restaurants in Oregon, The Bay House in Lincoln City. Regardless of its many wonderful attributes — the magnificent view, outstanding service and 2,000-selection wine list — the restaurant’s primary focus has always been on the food. ##Photo provided.
The food at Blackbird is seasonal, fresh and has made foodie fans out of locals and travelers alike. ##Photo by Justin Bailie.
Surrounded by lush landscaping, the Coast Cabins in Manzanita offer a tidy hideaway for the ultimate romantic getaway. ##Photo provided.
The Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa in Astoria offers guests unparalleled views of a real working river as well as Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and nearby Washington. ##Photo provided.
The boardwalk at Bridgewater Bistro glows from the lights inside. During the day, these seats fill with diners opting for fresh sea air. ##Photo provided.
Light fills the dining room at Restaurant Beck with floor-to-ceiling windows for enjoying the view. ##Photo by Jannie Huang.

Romancing the North Coast

Wax poetic with waves, wine and warm hospitality

By Kerry Newberry

 

From the rugged, wild sea cliffs of Depoe Bay to the undulating dunes and sandy beaches in Manzanita, the northern Oregon coast enchants in every season. In the winter, there’s something close to mystical found in the tempestuous storms — ocean waves roar and melodramatic clouds change by the moment. “The drama of unpredictable weather — sun, wind, rain, torrential rain,” says Tony Kischner of Bridgewater Bistro in Astoria, is part of the off-season appeal at the coast. Especially, for the more adventurous at heart.

Perfect evenings include storm watching and seafood feasts with a view. Whether you crave the subtle sweetness of Oregon Dungeness crab or the sea-salt kiss of an Olympia oyster, you can find both in one of the destination restaurants that line on our coastal trail. We’ve rounded up a few favorites, where the wine list is as exceptional as the food. For a romantic winter getaway, the recipe is simple: Head to the coast, embrace the storms, get outside and stay for a while.

Guests sit down for an unforgettable culinary experience at one of the best restaurants in Oregon, The Bay House in Lincoln City. Regardless of its many wonderful attributes — the magnificent view, outstanding service and 2,000-selection wine list — the restaurant’s primary focus has always been on the food. ##Photo provided.

The Bay House Restaurant

5911 S. Highway 101, Lincoln City

Overlooking Siletz Bay

A dining destination since 1978, The Bay House Restaurant enchants with panoramic views of the bay — perfect for sunsets or storm watching.

Executive Chef Kevin Ryan serves up a taste of the sea with classics like smoked salmon ravioli with roasted red pepper pasta, and Pacific Chinook Salmon with sea beans alongside a hearty hash of potato, bell pepper and zucchini.

For the past decade, proprietor Steve Wilson has stocked the wine cellar — the list spans 2,100 selections, with about 35 percent dedicated to Northwest producers. “One of our most recent favorites was the 2012 Sineann Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir,” says Wilson — the 2012 vintage is the last Resonance bottling under the Sineann label, as the vineyard was sold to Louis Jadot. “We are also huge fans of wines from The Eyrie Vineyards. They always delight.”

Last year, The Bay House Restaurant garnered the prestigious AAA 4-Diamond Award. It’s only one of two restaurants in Oregon to receive this rating; the other, The Painted Lady in Newberg. 

Stay the Night

Slumber seaside at the Looking Glass Inn in a suite overlooking Siletz Bay and Pacific waves.

Bundle Up. Get Outside!

Drift Creek Falls is pretty spectacular,” says Wilson. Hike along verdant trails that wind through the Siuslaw National Forest to a 240-foot-long suspension cable bridge. Take Instagram-worthy snapshots of the 65-foot waterfall that drops below. 

Ingredients for Love

Sparks will fly in the kitchen at The Lincoln City Culinary Center — classes range from coastal pub fare (potato skins with buffalo chicken confit and blue cheese crema) to a hands-on pasta workshop (pici with pork sauce, and stained glass pappardelle with Oregon pink shrimp).  

The food at Blackbird is seasonal, fresh and has made foodie fans out of locals and travelers alike. ##Photo by Justin Bailie.

Blackbird

503 Laneda Avenue, Manzanita

Small Town Charm

It’s easy to fall in love with beach living after dining at Blackbird. Chef Lee Vance opened this upscale restaurant in the tiny town of Manzanita on Valentine’s Day in 2014. During the few years prior, she was cooking impromptu dinners with ingredients sourced from the Friday evening farmer’s market in town.

Her most popular dish then was a decadent lamb burger, which you’ll occasionally find on the menu at Blackbird. Now chef favorites include a house-made ricotta gnudi topped with Oregon Dungeness crab and golden-brown fried cauliflower served with harissa aioli. For a sweet finish, share the dark chocolate pot de crème sprinkled with Jacobsen sea salt.

The best seat in the house is at the front window table under the glow from a vintage chandelier. Or try the bar with a front-and-center view of the open kitchen, where you can watch Vance at work.

“Winter can be a great time to visit restaurants on the coast,” she says. “It’s a little slower, so we have more time to play, try new recipes and experiment in the kitchen.”

Coast Cabins’ Windward, a mid-century modern private home, is one of many exciting properties to rent.## Photo provided.

Stay the Night

Feel like a local when you can walk a few blocks down the main street from Blackbird to modern lodging at the Coast Cabins, offering woodsy cabins and loft-style condos, many with private outdoor spas, in the heart of town,

Bundle Up. Get Outside!

Vance heads to the nearby Neahkahnie Mountain for hikes. This part of the Northern Coast Range is rich in legend and lore. Later, if the night is clear, she says why not head out for a beach bonfire and some star gazing? 

Quiet Moments

“In the winter, the crowds are much smaller, and you can feel like Manzanita is your own,” says Vance. Even unexpected locals sense the calm. “I’ve seen elk walk into town in the winter,” she adds. “It’s also when you can see some of the most amazing sunsets.”

Bridgewater Bistro in Astoria offers fresh, seasonal food and an award-winning wine list. ##Photo provided.

Bridgewater Bistro

20 Basin Street, Astoria

On the Astoria Riverfront

Since 2007, Ann and Tony Kischner have created mouthwatering seafood fare at Bridgewater Bistro in the former boatyard of the Union Fish cannery. The light-filled building dates back to 1896, featuring some of the original old-growth fir beams in the soaring dining room. A modern steel fireplace, along with bar shelving, was built to echo the shipping traffic that coasts by the restaurant, and seascape watercolors throughout the space further reflect the local fishing community and history.

The restaurant’s signature winter offering is their version of a seafood stew called Northwest Seafood Dashi — an Asian-inspired noodle dish with wild halibut, salmon, prawns, toasted spices, seasonal vegetables and rice noodles in a kombu seaweed and wild mushroom broth. “Our chef, Geoff Gunn, spent a fair amount of time living and working in Hawaii, which frequently inspires his cuisine with Asian influences,” says Tony. “This dish does a great job of representing what I would call a cross-Pacific Northwest cuisine, incorporating elements from both sides of the Pacific Ocean.”

Finding local wine to complement the stew is easy. “Given that we are located literally on the cusp of Oregon and Washington, I go to great lengths to represent the wines of both states,” says Tony. 

MUST-GO WINTER EVENTS

Newport Seafood & Wine Festival
February 25–28
It wouldn’t be winter on the coast without the Newport Seafood & Wine Festival. Showcasing more than 150 premier Northwest wines, culinary professionals and regional artisans, the popular event draws nearly 25,000 visitors each year.
www.seafoodandwine.com

Savor Cannon Beach
March 10–13
The four-day festival features events that showcase the bounty of Northwest wine and cuisine while restaurants, galleries and shops add a weekend full of tastings, special dinners and cultural events.
www.savorcannonbeach.com

Stay the Night

For a postcard vista, consider the Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa. Built on the banks of the majestic Columbia River, the stately rooms feature a fireplace, private balcony and water views. There’s a full spa with a Finnish sauna and indoor hot tub as well. On a clear day, you can ride vintage bicycles to town — but for winter months, plan to use the antique chauffeured car service the hotel provides.

Bundle Up. Get Outside!

Tony sends guests to the Astoria Column for the best views in town. At 600 feet above sea level, you can survey Young’s Bay, the Coast Range, the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean on a clear day. For a beach walk and some history, he says Fort Stevens State Park is a must. He says, “You’ll find the iconic wreck of the Peter Iredale, historic World War II big gun emplacements, and phenomenal Columbia Bar views from the South Jetty.”

Poets of the Sea

There’s no better location to sense the romance of the sea than the FisherPoets Gathering in Astoria. During this annual celebration of the commercial fishing industry, nearly 100 poets, songwriters and storytellers gather in Astoria’s pubs, restaurants and galleries to share their seafaring adventures — some recount tales of beauty and joy, some sorrow and despair, yet all evoke the allure of life at sea. This year the event is set for Feb. 26–28.  

Fresh steelhead is creatively prepared and presented at Restaurant Beck. ##Photo by Jannie Huang.

Restaurant Beck

2345 Highway 101, Depoe Bay

Provocative Fare

At Restaurant Beck, with its pristine coastal views, Justin Willis, a two-time James Beard Award semi-finalist for “Best Chef Northwest,” elevates locally foraged and farmed ingredients into artistic, dramatic fare. Willis and his wife, Stormee, established the boutique restaurant in 2009. From any seat in the house, you are treated to a mesmerizing seascape: a secluded cove where migratory whales drift by and pockets of old-growth Sitka spruce forests.

Each dish on the small menu is imaginatively composed. A winter specialty pairs steelhead with a hedgehog mushroom ganache. “The mushrooms are cooked down and puréed with white chocolate,” says Willis. “We use the white chocolate for its richness and fat content.” A side of compressed apples with local chili and Meyer lemon purée, and wild watercress adds a pop of brightness to the plate.

Justin Willis, executive chef and owner of Restaurant Beck. ##Photo by Jannie Huang.

You’ll find a thoughtful selection of Northwest wines on the list, including chef favorites like the 2010 Dusky Goose Pinot Noir and the J. Scott Cellars Pinot Blanc.  

Stay the Night

If you are ready to splurge, simply head upstairs. In the same building, you’ll find seven luxury suites at the Whale Cove Inn. Floor-to-ceiling windows spotlight ever-changing views of the ocean and bay. The best spot to take in the craggy cliffs and silver-capped waves is from your Jacuzzi spa on the private (and covered) balcony.

Bundle Up. Get Outside!

Head to Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint for panoramic views of the coast and whale watching. When the tide is low, you can spy the boiler from the wrecked steamer J. Marhoffer, dating to 1910.

Embrace the Wild

In Depoe Bay, also known as “The World’s Smallest Harbor,” visit the Whale Watching Center, where guides are ready to help you spot migrating gray whales as they blow, dive, spyhop and breach in the white-capped waves.

Kerry Newberry is vineyard-hopping, Pinot- sipping food and wine writer in Portland.

 

 

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