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Eugene Daily News
Julia Crowley

Julia Crowley

EDN's Food & Wine Editor has been in the wine industry for nearly 20 years. First through creating European wine tours, then opening her own wine bar, Julia now loves writing about food & wine for EDN through her two weekly columns: Wine Down Eugene & Local Lunch Gals. Find more wine related articles on her website, WineJulia.com.
julia.crowley@eugenedailynews.com http://winejulia.com http://facebook.com/winejulia winejulia

Local Lunch Gals: Ring of Fire’s Lava Lounge

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Delicious cocktails at Lava Lounge

Local Lunch Gal Jennifer just had a birthday. Although I won’t disclose her age, I will tell you all about our lunch at the restaurant that she chose for her birthday celebration: Ring of Fire.

Located on the northeast corner of Chambers Street and West Eleventh Avenue, Ring of Fire takes up the entire corner of a small strip mall. With three distinctly different dining areas and each boasting it’s own name, Ring of Fire is the main dining area, The Lava Lounge is the bar area and the Orchid Room is a room used for private events.

We decided to eat in the bar area since we knew we’d be ordering some of their much-talked-about cocktails. Set inside a rectangular shaped room, a bar with stools sits along one side towards the back of the room. In the front, adding an interesting flair to the decor, outdoor tables with open umbrellas offer booth-style seating with cushions and pillows.There are several regular four top and two top tables in addition to the outdoor tables. Since I’m the Lunch Gal that thinks ambiance is a really important quality to giving a restaurant a good rating, I always take note of the decor and feel of a restaurant. I really liked the ambiance – it’s modern, yet very comfortable and inviting with a unique twist.

The Gin Garden

We were there after the lunch rush on a Friday afternoon, so we were able to choose any table we wanted. We sat at one of the umbrella tables, and immediately started looking over the cocktail menu. Ring of Fire, or should I say the Lava Lounge, is known for having excellent cocktails, so although we usually order wine, today we were each going to try a cocktail.

I looked over the wine list too, of course, and I’m happy to report that Ring of Fire offers an outstanding selection of Oregon wine: Brandborg, Sweet Cheeks, King Estate, Rex Hill and Anne Amie to name a few. Having a great Oregon wine selection is of the utmost importance to me. What’s my number one, all time pet peeve? Wine lists at any Oregon restaurant, specifically Eugene, that do not offer Oregon wine. We are in the heart of world-class wine country, and there’s simply no excuse for any local restaurant to not support our local vintners. Enough said.

Jumbo Prawn Spring Rolls

Deciding on a cocktail was not an easy task, however. Some of the drinks that caught my attention were the Banana Attack Daiquiri, Fresh Fruit Infused Kamikaze, Oregon Peach and Gin Garden. Feeling in the mood for something really refreshing, I went with the Gin Garden: Fresh muddled cucumber, Hendrick’s gin, lemon and hints of basil. Maria also ordered the Gin Garden, but Jennifer went with the Fresh Fruit Infused Kamikaze. When our drinks arrived, we oohed and ahhed – they were definitely pretty, but best of all, they were really, really delicious. The Gin Garden was super refreshing, and the basil really stood out – both Maria and I loved it. Jennifer’s drink was delicious and refreshing too, with excellent pronounced berry flavors.

Once the waiter told us the specials, Maria and I didn’t even look at our menus, we both went with a special that sounded too good to pass up: Jumbo Prawn Spring Rolls with glass noodles, fresh basil and mint, lettuce and carrots, served with a chili peanut sauce. Jennifer went with her favorite dish, which is why she chose to eat at Ring of Fire for her birthday, the Phad Thai – stir fried rice noodles, egg, beansprouts and chicken, garnished with crushed roasted peanuts, green onions and lime.

Phad Thai

Before we were even half way through savoring our tantalizing cocktails, the food arrived – their food service is very quick, so this would be a great place for those in a time crunch.The Spring Rolls were not what I had imagined – they were made using rice paper wrappers, which are not my favorite due to the fact that they boast zero flavor; albeit, they are indeed much healthier than the fried version. Fortunately, what was inside the wrappers was very fresh and full of delectable flavors, so the the no-taste wrappers served their purpose of simply holding the goodies inside. Maria and I both thought they were very good, and it was certainly a guilt-free meal. I just had to try some of Jennifer’s delicious-looking Phad Thai, and I immediately realized why Jennifer had ordered it. The noodles were cooked to perfection and all the expected, ambrosial Phad Thai flavors were there. The roasted peanuts added a perfect crunch, and the lime cut through some of the sweeter flavors, creating a well balanced, and delicious meal.

Chili Margarita

After we were done eating, Jennifer had to try another cocktail that had caught her eye: The Chili Margarita. The Chili Margarita is their Scratch Margarita (house made) with pineapple and jalapeno infused Sauza Gold tequila. This cocktail is not for the faint of heart, it is super, duper spicy, but Jennifer absolutely loved it, even as her eyes watered. Luckily, Maria had brought a special birthday Champagne Cupcake from Sweet Life, so the sweetness was able to tone down the spiciness of the drink – just a tad.

Considering this was Jennifer’s birthday lunch, the Lunch Gals were pretty mellow, and I’m surprised we didn’t start out with the Lava Lounge Volcano Bowl – a hand-thrown ceramic bowl filled with rums and tropical juices for 2-4 people. And, we didn’t head down the street with our wine glasses looking for wine, like we did when we had lunch at Burgers on the Run. Regardless, it was a great time for us gal pals to unwind and enjoy good drinks, food and company, and we definitely recommend Ring of Fire’s Lava Lounge.

Sweet Life Champagne Cupcake

 

 

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