Local Lunch Gals: The Vintage
–Julia Crowley, EDN
Since we started doing restaurant reviews, one of the things the Local Lunch Gals have quickly discovered about Eugene is that it is home to some truly unique, locally owned restaurants.
The Vintage has definitely done it’s part in adding to Eugene’s uniqueness we Lunch Gals have come to appreciate and love. This quaint and charming restaurant, housed inside a turn of the century Victorian home, has an intimate and relaxing atmosphere where creative cocktails flow and artistically savory food is abundant.
Located on Lincoln Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in downtown Eugene, The Vintage specializes in tapas, crepes, fondues and desserts. In addition to their specialties, the extensive menu includes soups, salads, paninis, burgers, sandwiches, subs, seafood and house specialty entrees.
Lunch Gal Jennifer and I arrived at The Vintage a little after 11 am. If the weather had been better, we would have no doubt grabbed one of the outdoor tables on the front patio. But, with the ominous looking and unpredictable skies of April, we walked up the stairs of the porch and in through the front door. A friendly staff member greeted us and sat us at a bistro table next to the bar. Small and cozy, The Vintage radiates charm.
As soon as we sat down, we were both drawn to the cocktail menu. Enticing drink names like Lavender Lemondrop, Cucumber Gin Fizz, Pumpkin Spice Martini, and Orange Maple Buttered Rum had us considering a cocktail instead of our usual glasses of wine. With such delectable choices, I was undecided and stayed within my comfort zone and ordered the Wine by Joe 2009 Oregon Pinot Noir; however, Jennifer was more daring and ordered the St. Citrine, a cocktail made with house infused pink grapefruit vodka, St. Germaine Elderflower Liquor, pink grapefruit juice and a splash of soda. When our drinks arrived, her beautiful pink hued St. Citrine was super fruity, tangy and absolutely delicious.
One look at the Savory Crepes section of the lunch menu, and my mind was set on the European Savory Crepe – a crepe filled with sauteed chicken, chevre, mushrooms and spinach. Jennifer ordered the California Club Savory Crepe with turkey, bacon, avocado, tomato and jack cheese. All Savory Crepes are served with their signature raspberry pecan salad.
Crepes always make me think of my Dad – he was the ultimate Sunday morning crepe maker. He would make the batter the night before and get up early to make breakfast for the whole family. It’s funny to think of my tough guy Dad, a West Point graduate and Colonel in the Army, in the kitchen making crepes. The only other time he ever cooked anything was on the grill, but he was proud of his crepes that his French mother taught him to make; rightfully so, because they were down-right delicious. His crepes set the bar for all other crepes, so I’m admittedly a critic.
We didn’t wait long before our scrumptious-looking crepes were delivered, and my European Savory Crepe exploded with ambrosial fresh mushroom and chevre flavors. Jennifer’s California Club Savory Crepe was equally flavorful with zesty southwestern gusto from the pepper jack cheese and avocados. The Raspberry Pecan Salad is well worth mentioning too: simple spinach was drizzled with a slightly sweet raspberry dressing and covered with finely chopped pecans and chevrre tidbits. Everything was outstanding.
Although we both savored every last bite of our appropriately named flavorsome Savory Crepes and salads, the Gone Bananas Sweet Crepe was irresistible, and we ordered one to share. Drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with candied pecans, this heavenly crepe was filled with warm fresh sliced bananas caramelized in butter and brown sugar. Gone Bananas was so tasty and sublime, it far surpassed the ‘crepe bar’ I had set years ago with my dad’s crepes.
We weren’t ready to leave the charm of The Vintage just yet. Jennifer was hooked on the St. Citrine, so she ordered another while I decided to go with a drink that one of the Local Lunch Gals Facebook friends had suggested: The Lava Rock. The Lava Rock is The Vintage’s famous concoction of coconut rum, Midori Melon Liquor, pineapple juice, orange juice and fresh berry puree with a splash of cream. It’s served in a martini glass with a Pop Rocks rim, which undoubtedly gave this drink its name. It’s claim to fame is easily understood – the tropical sweetness of the puree, juices and melon liquor were divinely perfect with the sour, tangy Pop Rocks that lined the rim of the glass.
We loved The Vintage, and we highly recommend it. With its’ small house charm comes limited seating, so arrive early to avoid waiting for a table. It’s definitely not an inexpensive restaurant, but with the uniquely quaint atmosphere, commendable crepes and deliciously creative concoctions, it’s worth every penny spent.