The Local Lunch Gals recently had an opportunity to sit down for dinner and wine at one of downtown Eugene’s finest new restaurants: Soubise.
Avid followers of the Local Lunch Gals already know that each of us gals have distinctive preferences regarding dining out that will either make or break our restaurant experience. Jennifer, the restaurant owner in the group, thinks that service and food quality are most important – a loss of either will urge her not to return. Maria, the ultimate menu modifier, must be able to modify dishes to suit her food sensitivities and allergies – chefs need to be able to get creative. For me, ambiance and a wine list (one that must include Oregon wine) are the essence and joy of eating out, but proper stemware for wine sits at the top of my list. I am an admitted wine glass snob.
When we find a restaurant that can satisfy everything we each enjoy most about dining out, we think we’ve struck gold. At Soubise, we definitely struck gold – and I even discovered my new favorite line of wine glasses.
The ambiance is eclectically hip, modern and New York City-ish. The intriguing wall art can’t be missed, and the lighting is quirky, unique and bound to make diners look more than once. High exposed ceilings, dim lighting and walls of windows gives an airy, fresh feeling, and the decor is contemporary yet welcoming. There’s a bar to the right of the entrance, a hostess stand and a view of the kitchen straight ahead, and the dining room is to the left- everything is encompassed into one big, open space, with the exception of a private dinning room for special events. The tables are wood, the chairs are sleekly shaped and made of plastic and metal, and there’s a gorgeous naturally rustic wood bench that sits at the entrance for those who may need to wait for a table. The blend of metal and wood throughout the restaurant gives an aesthetically striking effect, and I absolutely loved it.
The Local Lunch Gals were at Soubise not only to check out their food and wine, but to also meet up with Rick Dancer and his co-host Emma Christine of the Rick Dancer TV show – our humble little group of gals who love to wine and dine were about to be filmed for an upcoming Rick Dancer show, and we were super excited. Bruce, our excellent server for the evening, sat us down at a window-side table where we had a great view of Eugene’s bustling Broadway street.
One look at the extensive wine list, and I knew I was in for a treat. Not only was there a selection of stellar Oregon wines, but the international list is one of the best I’ve seen in Eugene. Opting for a bottle of food-friendly Pinot Noir, we chose Ayres 2011 Perspective Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir, with Bruce’s help. He asked me what type of Pinots I prefer, and I said, “earthy, mushroomy, and Pinots with nice acidity” – the Ayres was just that. Complex bright red fruits, earth and fall spices rounded out by zippy acidity, my kind of Pinot, along with all the qualities I find I’m currently enjoying with the vintage 2011 Pinot Noirs.
Much to my surprise, when Bruce came back with our bottle of wine, he came back with wine glasses that I was completely unfamiliar with. Assuming he would return with a beloved Oregon Riedel Pinot Noir glass, I was immediately curious about the stunningly gorgeous glasses he set on the table. Bruce said, “it’s a Zalto Denk’Art Burgundy glass made in Austria.” I was doubtful that this glass could be better for an Oregon Pinot Noir than the Riedel Oregon Pinot Noir glass, so while I was admiring the shape of the Zalto, Soubise co-owner Cory Stamp brought over a Riedel for a side by side taste test. The Zalto won hands down. The aromas were pronounced without any detection of alcohol. The mouthfeel of the wine was silkier coming from the Zalto, and the acidity was slightly calmed. I had just been converted to a Zalto fanatic, and it just took one sip. I couldn’t wait to have this wine with food.
Ranging in price from $7 dollars for the baby romaine salad with white anchovy and Spanish goat cheese to $28 dollars for the Smoked Beef Filet with Yukon gold potato, green beans, ancho chile mole and tequila Hollandiase, the menu had a total of eight appetizers and eight entrees, all of which evoked a mouthwatering sensation. Who can resist appetizers like Alaskan gold nugget oysters with celery and Bosc pear or seared Albacore with cucumber, egg, potato and black olive vinaigrette? The entrees were just as mouthwatering and irresistible as the appetizers.
Maria ordered the Roasted Ling Cod with Dungeness crab vinaigrette, charred eggplant, fingerling potato and avocado, and for the first time in Local Lunch Gal history, she didn’t need to modify anything! Jennifer ordered the Smoked Beef Filet with Yukon gold potato, green beans, ancho chile mole and tequila Hollandaise, and I ordered the Roasted Chinook Salmon with delicata squash, farro, bacon and red wine.
We oohed and ahhed as the entrees arrived, and having had a bite of each of our dishes, rest assured, each one was even more delicious and savory than can be imagined. The beef, cod and salmon were all cooked to perfection. Sauces on all three dishes popped on the palate and complimented all ingredients harmoniously. The Dungeness crab vinaigrette on Maria’s Ling Cod actually had big chunks of fresh crab. The tequila Hollandaise on Jen’s beef filets was certainly unforgettable, and the charred skin on the salmon was undeniably a surprising bonus. If we were the only people in the restaurant (and we weren’t), we would have given a standing ovation to Chef Gabriel Gil. All the stars were aligned; we had an amazing evening of fine wine, food and service. Soubise was able to fulfill all of our distinctive, and often picky, preferences – without a hitch.
Visit Soubise at 50 West Broadway, Eugene.
*Special thanks to Cory for introducing me to Zalto, the stemware that swept me off my feet.