Honored Eateries

Wine Spectator recognizes Oregon restaurants

Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine in Ashland.## Photo courtesy of Neuman Hotel Group


Every year, Wine Spectator recognizes restaurants for outstanding menus, impressive wine lists and impeccable service through its Restaurant Awards. In 2022, 20 hospitality companies in Oregon received honors. Leaders from several described why they’re notable destinations for oenophiles and some delectable food/wine pairings currently offered.

Alchemy Restaurant and Bar, Ashland

“Throughout the years, we’ve tried to establish an excellent selection of Oregon wines first, then build upon that and surround them with examples of excellence from around the world,” said Drew Gibbs, Alchemy’s owner and beverage director/sommelier. He’s taken great care to create a list with both a depth and breadth that never feels unwieldy. Diners may choose verticals and library wines. A highlight of the list are the many wines from southern Oregon. Gibbs feels some responsibility to educate guests on both the quality of Oregon wines, particularly those made outside the Willamette Valley.

Currently, Gibbs’ top menu choice is duck leg confit with maitake and morel mushrooms, a sous vide poached egg and Moroccan-style jus, served with Medici Vineyards 2007 Pinot Noir.

Celilo Restaurant and Bar, Hood River

Showcasing the wide range of wines produced throughout Oregon also remains a priority at Celilo Restaurant and Bar in the Columbia River Gorge. “There are few places in the world where you’ll find more diversity in the wine varieties grown,” says manager Jacqueline Carey. “Some French, Spanish and Italian grapes are flourishing in Oregon, and there is always more experimenting going on in the vineyards with other varieties.”

Her favorite dish to relish currently is a porcini mushroom and sugar snap pea pappardelle served with a glass of Analemma Wines 2020 Mosier Hills Trousseau. “This biodynamic wine has bright acidity with fresh red fruit and earthiness that pairs beautifully with porcini mushrooms,” says Carey.

LARKS Home Kitchen Cuisine, Ashland

“In our application to Wine Spectator, I made an effort to express our dedication to the environment and our commitment to sustainability,” said restaurant manager and sommelier Molly Shaughnessy. “Our wine list reflects our farm-to-table concept while honoring the land from which we receive our products.” She also carefully monitors the pricing of wines so the list remains accessible to both community members and visitors.

Though she’s excited to win a Restaurant Award, Shaughnessy is even more thrilled at the attention it will bring to southern Oregon. “To be included in this prestigious publication means that Ashland can start to be recognized as a culinary and wine destination,” she noted. One example of the excellence that awaits diners: chef Franco Console’s lamb ‘nduja tartine with pickled red onions and fennel, fresh arugula, and roasted garlic and rosemary feta, complemented perfectly by the Leah Jørgensen Cellars 2020 Flagship Red Wine Cabernet Franc.

Quaintrelle, Portland

While wine director Chris Cooper appreciates the chance to showcase Oregon’s world-class Pinot Noir at Quaintrelle, his stock isn’t limited to that variety. “Right now, I have five Oregon Pinot Noirs on the list and 20 Oregon wines that are not Pinot Noir. That’s out of about 100 wines,” he said. Cooper is also excited to highlight young and experimental winemakers. “There has been a trend of winemakers— many are female— embracing techniques including extended skin contact, Pét-nats, fermentation in amphora, concrete eggs, etc.” His constantly evolving list includes local and international trends.

This summer, Cooper has a smoked diver scallop, served with strawberry aqua chile, lemon cucumber sweet onion and hazelnut, paired with the Maloof Wines 2021 Gewürztraminer Oak Ridge Vineyard, a skin-contact white made in the Columbia River Gorge.

RingSide Steakhouse, Portland

RingSide Steakhouse’s sizeable inventory and depth across multiple winegrowing regions— including the Willamette Valley, Napa, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Piedmonte— continues to attract Wine Spectator’s attention. The restaurant is committed to collecting in order to offer a wide selection and deep verticals for years to come, said wine director Kristen Young.

“I’m a huge proponent of Pinot Noir with steakhouse cuisine,” she added. “You want the thread of acidity and tannic structure to cut through the richness of, say, a medium-rare dry-aged ribeye.” The restaurant currently offers a Wagyu beef program, and she highly recommends ordering The Eyrie Vineyards 2007 Pinot Noir Daphne Vineyard with a steak served with pan-fried gnocchi, porcini mushrooms and a red wine reduction.

Riverside, Hood River

Riverside has a reputation for its stunning views of the Columbia River and lengthy list of Oregon and other Northwest wines. “Because of our location, and as a hotel and restaurant, we have a lot of folks who come to the area who want to try the local wines,” explained director of sales Kathleen O’Connor McNew. “Plus, the quality of Oregon wine is hard to beat.”

Executive chef Mark DeResta’s family roots are Italian, so the restaurant focuses on serving Northwest ingredients cooked with continental flair. Try the Bolognese sauce paired with The Pines Vineyard 1852 2019 Estate Syrah.

Urban Farmer, Portland

Beverage manager Nickolas Kahl always remembers Northwest residents while curating Urban Farmer’s wine selection, but he loves the “pure magic” of visitors from other parts of the world swooning over a Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir or a Walla Walla Bordeaux blend for the first time. To ensure guests enjoy those magical moments of discovery, he keeps the list heavy on Oregon Pinot Noir and Washington Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and blends.

“Our restaurant has its own dry aging program, and I will never tire of our 30-day New York strip from Painted Hills Beef,” Kahl said. “I love it medium rare, with blue cheese-truffle butter. On the side, some roasted mushrooms with a port wine reduction and charred leeks. To drink, Furioso 2018 Anna Pinot Noir, a beautifully muscular expression.”

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