The Chips' go to the Southern Oregon Coast

mr chips
Filet Mignon
2011/09/03 17:18:24
Trudy and i have been very busy this summer with work and had not really gone anywhere over the summer. trudy surprised me by making reservations for a weekend getaway in Florence, a city on the Oregon coast about an hour and half south of Newport and an equal distance from Eugene. it was a weekend filled with roadfood , nature and interesting bridges. We had a lot of fun in what was largely unfamiliar territory for us. 
     We started out with a visit to Novak's,  a Hungarian restaurant in Albany, Oregon just off of I-5. We usually visit around mealtime so we often have no room for products of the bakery. We stopped here for baked goods and were not disappointed.
 The highlight pastry was something called pithivier. it was like a cream horn filled with almond paste and it was marvelous combination of sweet mixed with enough savory to make wondrous combo flavor in your mouth. There was a tart lemon cake and apple strudel. i will say that even if your plans do not include a meal, a stop at the Novak's bakery is advisable when you are driving down I-5.
       We took a back way to Newport via highway 20 and had dinner at roadfood reviewed Shark's along the waterfront. Trudy and i had a long discussion afterwards about our meal because it is part of a longer debate about roadfood.
        The day of the trip i read a very negative review of Shark's here on roadfood,com. It surprised me because my previous experience had been very positive. I once again had the oyster pan loaf which is a delightful soup with a savory broth with pacific oysters. I love the flavor and recommend it to anyone. Trudy had the cioppino which she did not like at all. She ate all the shellfish but was quit unhappy with the tomato broth. She admitted my dish was very good but thought the cioppino she makes at home is better than Shark's. And this ,along with the negative review,got me to thinking. What happens when a place makes some dishes quite well and other dishes are  significantly less successful. Is it still roadfood? Shark's does not serve fried seafood and my experiences there have been quite good. i would lean toward the place being a fine roadfood stop but people should be aware of the possibilities of less than stellar food.
   Our drive from Newport to Florence was puncutuated by stunning ocean views of very high waves and rocky coast and bluffs. We stayed at The Lighthouse Inn, an older hotel of quirky charm next to the Siuslaw river bridge and Florence's Old town.
post edited by mr chips - 2012/12/22 21:46:19
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:The Chips' go to the Southern Oregon Coast 2011/09/04 15:42:10
That sounds like a great trip. Novak's sounds like somewhere that shouldn't be missed.
I'm leaning towards your thinking regarding a regional place that may not be across the board great, but still does some things very well. Most of us have been to places like that while traveling and on the road.
Re:The Chips' go to the Southern Oregon Coast 2011/09/04 15:56:09
Ordering out is always hit or miss due to tastes, the chef du jour and maybe the available ingredients.  Can't get a winning meal without trying a few losers along the way.
A drive up I5 is somewhere in my future.  Unfortunately when is not in sight.
Filet Mignon
Re:The Chips' go to the Southern Oregon Coast 2011/09/05 15:37:53
I think that in general we're getting a better ear for when a bad review is 'no really, don't ever eat here' and when it's just a your-miles-may-vary kind of thing.  Those pastries sound scrumptious.  I can't wait to get to Oregon one of these days.  Glad the Chipses had a wonderful trip!
Ralph Melton
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:The Chips' go to the Southern Oregon Coast 2011/09/06 11:29:36
If a place makes some things splendidly and some things poorly, my opinion is that this still deserves attention; splendid food is hard to find. But I grant that it also deserves special warnings.
mr chips
Filet Mignon
Re:The Chips' go to the Southern Oregon Coast 2011/09/09 16:14:45
Day 2 of our journey was a combination of sightseeing and roadfood. Our day began with a visit to Morgan's Country Kitchen, a place just south of Florence near Honeyman Dunes State Park. The place was reviewed in one of the Sterns's book in the nineties. As I recall, the food was good but what was most memorable was the tribute area to John Wayne in the restaurant. The John Wayne stuff is long gone(indeed the restaurant seems most proud of its recycling system) but the  place still is pretty decent. Trudy  had very good pancakes and I had a veggie omlette with  fresh ingredients and very good sourdough toast. The staff was friendly and the meal a very good start to the day.
       We then drove to the Darlingtonia Nature Wayside just north of the city. The Darlingtonia is an insect eating plant that grows in boggy areas from Santa Cruz to Florence. The wayside is a reasonably thick growth just off highway 101. It grows from the ground with a flower that resembles a cobra head, and it is atop a long thin green stem. It looks like the movie and cartoon images of a cobra rising from a basket. It is a 10 minute stop and well worth the time of anyone driving the coast highway and taking the very short walk.
      We then strolled around old-town Florence, the old city that developed before the highway culture. Like so many of these place, it is a lttle chi-chi with upscale restaurants toy stores and shops(an olive store was the most interesting to me). There was a lovely park where you could see the sand dunes for which Florence is  famous and take in a nice view of the Siuslaw river that flows thru town into the ocean. There were also left-over ferry pilings that are home to egrets and other birds. The Mo's where we ate lunch is perched on pilings above the river with good views of the dunes and docks. Mo's is a roadfood reviewed mini-chain on the Oregon coast with stops as far north as Cannon Beach with Florence being the southernmost point. The chowder as always , was rich and creamy, and the scenic location a great bonus.
     There was also a walk thru a farmer's market and a visit to the local history museum. I love learning about the local history, especially of places i have not visited very much and Florence's old town was a great place to learn about these things.
      Afternoon was spent exploring some natural spots. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is south of the city. We drove to the mouth of the Siuslaw river, past high sand dunes and watched the dune buggies  drive  along dune hillsides and up and down the dunes. My mobility issues limited the hiking along dunes I  did when I was younger but it was still a pleasure to see them.
     Florence has a Native American casino a mile west of downtown on the highway to Eugene and the uninteresting food and lack of single deck 21 made my stay there brief.  Frankly the casino could have been anywhere and i did not find it interesting. There were a couple fairly large tables for poker but i did not want to play.
post edited by mr chips - 2012/12/23 00:59:02
Re:The Chips' go to the Southern Oregon Coast 2011/09/09 16:53:44
Don't you love it when the other half surprises you with things like that.
You trip so far sounds like it was a wonderful getaway.
Junior Burger
Re:The Chips' go to the Southern Oregon Coast 2011/09/20 01:37:03
My wife and I frequent the coast for our meals out. Sharks is a huge disappointment IMO and my wife seconds your wifes opinion of their Cioppino. Far better food across the street at Saffron Salmon and down the bay front at Local Ocean Seafood.

mr chips
Filet Mignon
Re:The Chips' go to the Southern Oregon Coast 2011/11/07 16:07:39
Sorry about the delay in finishing this trip report. Don't know why it has taken me so long.
      Day 3 began with a sort of refresher skill retraining. Since I discovered Roadfood and Moon guidebooks it has almost never happened that i find myself in a community without a notion of where I am going to eat. But our day 3 breakfast was one of those rare times. I used to pride myself on my ability to find good restaurants and I wondered if I could still do it.
    Trudy and I looked over the restaurant flyers at our hotel and a place called The Little Brown Hen caught our eye. It promised farm fresh eggs and noted that the place had won best breakfast place in Florence two years running. A short drive up the road showed us a place with a cutesy animal on the roof( a sign jane and michael Stern say often indicates great food.
    The call was a good one. owner Ron was there himself serving breakfast, resplendent in his clean but very paint splattered white smock. He apologized for the outfit but said he was short handed that morning. Trudy had an order of french toast, I had two eggs over toast layered with homemade chile called Ron's special. Portions were large, the food well presented with great flavor. The eggs were good, the food fresh, the coffee good. It was a great roadfood worthy meal,; the crowd  a good combination of locals and tourists, the prices reasonable. We lingered, enjoying the vibe and the Eugene Register Guard. Had a nice conversation with owner Ron who explained something that perplexed me; a lot of restaurants on the coast are open 7a.m. till 2 p.m, he explained that tourists don't usually go out for dinner to his place so it remains unprofitable to stay open. Also many people have 2 or 3 jobs on the coast and it is often not wise to rely too much on just one occupation. Restaurants in Florence and Waldport reviewed in the Stern's 500 things book had closed before we got there and this was as good an explanation as we could think of for this phenomenon.
  Following breakfast we took a leisurely drive from Florence to Yachats(pronounced ya-hots). There are no real towns here but a lot of beachfront properties, small motels and small beaches. The area is part of the Siuslaw National Forest and much of highway 101 follows the ocean. There was a wonderful area called Stone Beach where I was able to walk along and hear the wonderful sounds of the ocean without having to worry about unsteady ground.
  Our favorite stop was the visitor center at Cape Perpetua. Located about 1000 feet above the ocean, there is a large picture window which on a clear day allowed us a marvelous view of ocean and a formation called Devil's Churn. We spent a short time viewing the ocean then took a drive up the mountain to an overlook where we could see the cape, the Devil's Churn and an immense distance of the sea. It was truly spectacular and reminded me once again of the scenic splendors of my home state.
      Six miles further and we reached Yachats. Yachats is a village of under 1000 people on the ocean and a bay. Lots of beach and lots of wonderful houses and views. and the location of the roadfood reviewed Green Salmon Coffee House. The Green Salmon Coffee House is a  place that is every bit as colorful and interesting as the coffeehouses of Portland, Seattle and Berkley. Live music permeated the place and the front counter had the Sterns" 500 Things book open to the pages of the Sterns' review. I loved the openness of the place and indulged myself in the vibe. I ordered a Matcha tea smoothie which had the color, texture and appearance of peat moss in a cup. it scared off Trudy and a retired couple from Seattle who had been the owners of a coffee import company in a previous life. it also tasted good and I felt a healthy glow for the rest of the day after consuming it. Yachats is a very relaxing place and we will stay there if we journey to this part of the coast again.
    Another 20 miles and we reached Waldport. Our destination  here was a visitors center with displays about the McCullough bridges along the Oregon coast. Mr McCulloough was the chief engineer of the Oregon Highway department when Highway 101 was completed. He designed bridges over 10 streams, bays and creeks that completed the highway and ended the ferries that had been part of the journey since white settlement. Trudy's uncle had been his assistant and the bridge over Alsea Bay in Waldport had been the first of his bridges. There is a museum in Waldport explaining the history of the bridges and their design and we spent a fascinating time there learning about the designs and the history of transportation along the Oregon coast. Well worth a visit if you are in the area.
        Neither Trudy nor I had ever taken Highway 34 from Waldport to Corvallis so we decided this was the time. It was a sunny clear day and we drove along the Alsea river along a twisting narrow road. The river was scenic, the trees dappled with sunlight. At one point we stopped to drive and walk across a covered bridge near Alsea and just marvel at the combination of trees, farmland and second growth timber that make up  rural Benton county  
   Our final stop of the day was a return visit to Novack's in Albany. This time we ate a cheese plate and again marveled at how versatile Novack's is. Whether  you want a snack, baked goods, or any of the 3 meals, you get great food. This place is a roadfood treasure and again you should stop there anytime you are near Albany.
post edited by mr chips - 2012/12/23 01:02:37
mr chips
Filet Mignon
Re:The Chips' go to the Southern Oregon Coast 2012/12/13 01:12:15

My wife and I frequent the coast for our meals out. Sharks is a huge disappointment IMO and my wife seconds your wifes opinion of their Cioppino. Far better food across the street at Saffron Salmon and down the bay front at Local Ocean Seafood.

Interesting that this one time poster suggested two restaurants that were later reviewed enthusiastically by Bruce Bilmes ad Sue Broyles  a year and a half later. And s/he was so right.
post edited by mr chips - 2012/12/23 01:03:24