The Local Lunch Gals ended up having lunch at the fairly new Rye restaurant on Friday, but it wasn’t part of our original plan.
Around noon, the three lunch gals met in the offbeat Whitaker neighborhood with plans to have lunch at the Wandering Goat. Jennifer arrived before Maria and I, and one look inside the Goat revealed a full house: all tables and chairs, both inside and outside, were taken. So, when Maria and I arrived, Jennifer was waiting for us at a picnic table in front of Eugene Wine Cellars, which is located across the street from the Wandering Goat. If Eugene Wine Cellars had been open, we probably would have been happy just taking up residence at the picnic table with a bottle of wine and some food to go from the Wandering Goat, but it wasn’t, so we decided to cruise the neighborhood in search of another eatery.
We drove by Izakaya Meiji and Sam Bond’s, but neither were open. We passed Ninkasi and saw the popular Betty Rocker’s Street Kitchen. Although we’ve all been wanting to try Betty Rocker’s, we were really wanting wine with lunch, so that’s when Jennifer suggested we try Rye.
Rye is located at 444 East Third Avenue in downtown Eugene, where the Bridge Bar & Grill used to be. As soon as we pulled into our parking spot next to the outdoor patio area, I knew I was going to like the ambiance. Picnic tables were each adorned with baskets and vases of fresh herbs, flowers and plants. A large garage-style door, which was up and open, allowed the indoor seating to have a feeling of being outdoors.
The inside was very inviting. Stand-alone tables, booths, and a bar with stools were seating options, in addition to bench seating along the walls which included pillows and velvety-soft cushions. The color scheme was earthy, with sage colored walls, brown furniture and fabrics to match. Old whiskey bottles that were recycled and used for water bottles adorned the tables, and a large rock fireplace was at the opposite end of the restaurant from the large garage-style door. We all commented on how we loved the feel and decor.
Although the skies were blue last Friday, it was incredibly muggy, so we opted to sit inside at a table with a nice view of the patio. Each of us ordered a glass of wine. Jennifer ordered the Capitello Willamette Valley Pinot Gris, Maria ordered Matchbook Chardonnnay out of California, and I ordered the Foris Rogue Valley Pinot Blanc.
We looked over the lunch menu while sipping our chilled whites. One of the things we’ve noticed lately while visiting so many restaurants is that unique food options are popping up on menus more often than not. If you read our review of Falling Sky Brewing, you’ll know that Maria substituted Fried Pig Ears for plain old chicken on the salad she ordered, and we both opted out of ordering their Beef Tongue.
At Rye, under Starters & Salads, their Poutine is Fries with Cheese, Duck Confit and Duck Gravy. Composed Salad is a mixture of Green Beans, Saffron Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Roasted Shallots, Grilled Chicken and Hard Boiled Duck Egg with a Shallot-Sherry Vinaigrette on house greens. Some of the other starters included Chevre Frites, Warm Goat Cheese Salad, and Mussels steamed with Vermouth and Fennel. Mains & Sandwiches were more traditional and included an Italian Meatball Sandwich, Grilled Portabella Sandwich, Chicken Paillared Sandwich, Open-Faced Sausage Sandwich and a Pasta and Catch of the Day.
Jennifer and I both ordered the Chicken Paillared Sandwich – chicken breast pounded flat, grilled and served on grilled Ciabatta bread with sauteed onions and aioli. Maria ordered the Pasta of the Day: Wild Caught Sauteed Salmon Belly Fettuccine with butter, white wine marinara and seasonal vegetables. Menu Modifier Maria did, however, substitute the butter for olive oil.
The Chicken Paillared Sandwich was exactly as described except for the Ciabatta bread didn’t seem to have been grilled; however, it was fresh and good. The onions had hints of rosemary flavoring and the aioli reminded me a little bit of thousand island dressing without the sweetness. It was a very tasty aioli, so I ordered a side of it to dip my sandwich into, which really helped the flavors of the sandwich come to life. Maria’s pasta special was down-right delicious. The fresh sauteed vegetables and creamy white wine marinara sauce melded together beautifully with the sweetness of the perfectly cooked salmon belly.
When our server mentioned there was an in-house Chocolatier, we decided to order some chocolates from the dessert menu: the Peanut Cluster and the Peanut Butter Cup. Not being able to resist the Creme Caramel, we added that to our dessert order too.
The Peanut Cluster was made up of Salted Blister Peanuts and Himalayan Sea Salt dipped in organic 70 percent dark chocolate, and it was sweet meets salty perfection. The Peanut Butter Cup looked much like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but it sure didn’t taste like one. It was made with spicy salted peanut butter in organic milk chocolate and topped with chipotle salt. All three of the dessert items were delicious.
The three of us really enjoyed lunch at Rye. Maria was happy that the chef was able to modify her pasta, Jennifer was happy with our accommodating and attentive server, and I loved the ambiance; in addition to a wine list that included local wine. Next time we go, we’re going to try out something from their Classic Drink menu, which included pre-Prohibition drinks, like the Aviation, circa 1916 invented by Hugo Ensslin, gin, lemon, creme de violet and maraschino.