Underground Gourmet

By Yvette Saarinen

A decorative trellis frames the entrance to the gently curved stone staircase descending to Newberg’s newest culinary experience, Subterra–A Wine Cellar Restaurant.

Martin and Janet Bleck recently opened Subterra, which is located beneath the Dark Horse Wine Bar near the intersection of Highway 99W and Villa Road in Newberg. Subterra is reminiscent of many of Europe’s underground eateries.

The Blecks are Florida transplants who moved to Oregon in 2008, along with their son, Kelsey. Janet said they wanted to fulfill their dream of living in the most beautiful state in the nation and participate in its vibrant and burgeoning food and wine scene.

Martin is a chef and Janet, a caterer. She founded Creative Tastes Catering in 1984, and grew it to be one of the largest event catering companies in the Miami area. The couple met when Martin applied for a prep cook job in 1991. They founded Garden Café Catering in 2004, to provide all the food service needs at an 83-acre tropical garden venue, Fairchild Tropical Garden, which included an award-winning café, a seasonal restaurant and catering for festivals and groups.

February 2009, they bought the coffee house in Springbrook Plaza in Newberg and changed the name to Underground Café & Coffeehouse. No longer just a coffee house, its menu includes breakfasts and lunches, seasonal daily specials, homemade soups, baked goods, and local beer and wine.

When the couple saw the Subterra site, they also saw potential in opening an affordable white tablecloth restaurant. Subterra serves dinner, beginning at 5 p.m. on Wednesday through Sunday, and brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Ten dinner entrées include chicken, pork, duck, fish and scallops in variation, ranging from $15 to $21. Meals include freshly baked bread and homemade soup and salad. Desserts are decadent and homemade.

Sunday brunch runs from $17 to $19 and includes such items as: biscuits and gravy, fried chicken and eggs; homemade toasted English muffin topped with grilled ham, braised greens, poached egg and leek-caper mustard cream sauce; huevos rancheros on a soft corn tortilla, with red chili pork, cheese, scallions, house-made cream and black beans; stuffed French toast topped with cherries and vanilla cream; and Belgian waffles with flambéed bananas and vanilla ice cream.

For lighter fare, small-plate hors d’oeuvres are available in the wine bar, which has a wide selection of wine and beer.

Subterra shares parking privileges with other shops in the mini plaza so there are about 50 spaces available. 


Subterra–A Wine Cellar Restaurant

Address: 1505 Portland Rd., Newberg

Hours: Dinner (5 p.m., Wed.–Sun.); Brunch (9 a.m.–2 p.m., Sun. only)

Phone: 503-538-6060 (for reservations)


Yvette Saarinen is a reporter for the News-Register in McMinnville.


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