restaurants

Party Downtown restaurant & catering in Eugene, Oregon

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Party Downtown restaurant in Eugene, Oregon. Food Travel Bliss on UrbanBlissLife.comTraveling to Eugene, Oregon? Check out Party Downtown, a cute restaurant and catering company serving fresh local cuisine.    Party Downtown Like many college towns, food carts are popular in Eugene, Oregon. Eugene is the second largest city in Oregon, and is located about two hours south of Portland. In 2011, Tiffany Norton and Mark…

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Where to Eat, Stay, and Play in Jacksonville, Oregon

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Where to Eat, Stay, Play in Jacksonville, Oregon: McCully House. Travel tips on UrbanBlissLife.comHeading to Southern Oregon? Here’s Where to Eat, Stay, and Play in Jacksonville, Oregon. Southern Oregon is full of charming small towns, where life moves at a gentler pace. There are no large urban cities, no towering skyscrapers, no major traffic. In this warmer part of Oregon where quaint towns pepper the Rogue Valley and…

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French-inspired Pacific Northwest Cuisine at Marché Restaurant (Eugene, Oregon)

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French-inspired Pacific Northwest cuisine at Marche restaurant Eugene Oregon, restaurant review on UrbanBlissLife.comEnjoy French-inspired Pacific Northwest cuisine at Marche restaurant in Eugene, Oregon. When I travel, I love trying new restaurants. Yet I also always try to set aside time to revisit some of my old favorites. These are the restaurants I will go back to time and time again – and also the ones I regularly recommend…

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FOOD WINE BLISS: Feast Portland 2017 Best Bites and Sips

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Feast Portland 2017 Best Bites and Sips Brunch VillageFeast Portland 2017 was a whirlwind of nonstop food, libations, and fun. This was my fifth year attending the 6-year-old, four-day food & beverage festival, and I can honestly say it was one of my favorites yet! Be sure to read my past Feast Portland posts in the Urban Bliss Life Feast Portland Guide. Best…

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Food Bliss: Buckman Public House (Portland, Oregon)

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Buckman Public House restaurant in Portland, Oregon, on UrbanBlissLife.comBuckman Public House in Portland, Oregon has a vibrant cocktail program, and serves artfully presented, creative lunch and dinner dishes in a former high school building. Portland, Oregon may be a young city but there are still so many untold stories and history within the walls of old structures in the midst of the city’s…

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In N’ Out Burger Sends Scouts to Medford

cheeseburgerMEDFORD, Ore. — There is a lot of talk about In N’ Out Burger moving a location to Medford. However, the famous burger joint said “nothing is for sure just yet.”

The burger chain has filed a pre-application with the City of Medford and said it has real estate agents in the area scouting multiple locations for the fast-food restaurant to move to.

Jim Huber, with the City of Medford Planning Department, said that more details will be discussed in a staff meeting next week.

Representatives from In N’ Out Burger said that it is possible for the company to submit multiple applications in different cities, and Medford is one of those cities.

Oregon’s Bay Area: Game On

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We love Oregon’s Bay Area. Coos Bay/North Bend is a great little town. It’s changed a lot in the years since we lived there in the late 80’s and I hope it’s on the verge of greatness. There’s a new brewpub in Coos Bay and it just upped the competition – changed the game. The problem will be, can others compete or will they be ignored.

Motel: We stay at the Red Lion because quite frankly you get a great deal. They have clean, large remodeled rooms with comfortable beds and only 92 dollars a night for a king.

We love checking out restaurants and this time found a gold mine at Coos Bay’s first Brew Pub. 7 Devils is a great spot in the heart of town. The atmosphere is perfect (needs more inside seating) and the food is great. The beer is amazing for a new brewery. Usually it takes a brewer time to get a good recipe but the couple that creates this beer is already there. We had an amazing time and the servers were perfect. They were friendly and efficient, the kind of servers you feel good about tipping.

photo-484The rest of our meals were not so great and left us feeling like Coos Bay needs to step it up a notch or three.

We had dinner at a place called “Little Italy.” We’ve eaten there before and weren’t overly impressed but there aren’t a lot of choices so we decided to give it a go again and will not repeat our mistake.

You know you’ve made a mistake when you take a bite and realize your wife could have done much better at home. The whole evening was awkward. The restaurant is nice but something just doesn’t work. The waitress we had felt nervous. We left feeling gross.

We tried to eat lunch at the Empire Café, a place we have bragged about before, but they are no longer open for lunch. They had great food the last several times we were there but when we got to the place the sign said: “Open at 2pm.” Why would you open a restaurant at 2pm? If you do go to Coos Bay I’d definitely give them a try because their baked goods are amazing and the food was good. Just don’t plan to eat lunch at a normal time of day or go for dinner.

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We ended up at a place called “Monica’s” for lunch. Monica must have a lot of friends who “Yelp” because the ratings look good. We got there at 1:30 and the lunch spot is out of bread. What, you are out of bread? I hate to be “Crusty” but how does a lunch place run out of bread? We were starving and decided on a salad special and it was terrible. For $10 bucks we had Romaine lettuce with a few other goodies (if you can call them that) on the salad, oh and Olive Oil as a dressing. We paid extra for turkey and found a few tiny chunks under the salad, nothing to gobble about. The coffee was bad and the meal too expensive. Monica was nice enough but the restaurant too was an awkward spot.

Oregon’s Bay Area needs to pick up the pace. Business owners might want to travel to other places and see what others are doing and find a way to make their own mark on good food, great services and friendly staff.

On the way home we stopped by the Sourdough Bakery in Winchester Bay and bought a pizza skin to bring home. We also bought a bottle of wine we’ve never seen before. It’s a really cool place with great pizza. You can even do take-n-bake. They also bake fresh bread and make sandwiches. Oh, and the owner makes these cool jams and preserves. It’s a great place to stop.

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But the best place of the trip is Harbor Light in Reedsport. We passed by this place for 20 years. A year ago we drove by and saw they had “Fixed it up” so we stopped. We had a Tuna steak sandwich and it was amazing and the restaurant is really cool inside. This time we stopped by and ordered the tri tip salad. Look at the picture it was as good as it looks. The Harbor Light smokes its tri tip, chicken and pork. The staff is great and the food is just so good. You will not be disappointed they even serve great beer and wine. The only thing I would change is they need better coffee.

I truly do care about Oregon’s Bay area. I spent my early years in my former career there. People in Coos Bay are very, very good to me so this advice comes with a desire to make the community thrive.

Go look around and see what others are doing. Find out what works for others and then flatter them by copying what they do but do it even better. Competition is good for the soul. I know we live in a world that tries to quiet the competition rather than use it to learn but you need to do the latter.

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Now that’s a tri-tip salad – thank you Harbor Lights Family Restaurant – once again the food highlight.

If you don’t feel like traveling outside the area head downtown and pay a visit to 7 Devils or drive to Reedsport and ask some questions at Harbor Light. Walk in the door, grab a beer, order some food and take plenty of notes. If you ignore these places you will lose. If you find yourself saying this and that won’t work put a closed sign on your door right now. The folks at 7 Devils and Harbor Lights get it and let me warn you now, it’s “Game On.”

Local Lunch Gals: Battledish

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On Saturday, October 5, the first-ever Battledish event took place, organized by Eugene’s ambassador of Dishcrawl, Rosalie Ruff.  Selected to be one of the judges, Battledish is an international chef competition that takes place in cities around the world.  Here in Eugene, six chefs from six different restaurants concocted some incredible dishes and drinks for participating food enthusiasts and our panel of six judges – all in hopes of being crowned the Battledish King.

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Pork Tonkatsu and Spicy Tuna Rolls – Tokyo Tonkatsu

Meeting up at the first restaurant, Tokyo Tonkatsu on Broadway, I received a judge ballot and a map of the restaurants that were a part of Battledish, including a description of the dishes and drinks that were soon to be imbibed.  After being introduced to the other judges, Eugene food blogger Ghio Imbergio of AKitchenTakesRoot.com, Register Guard Tastings Editor Joel Gorthy, KMTR’s Joel Porter, freelance writer Sophia McDonald of sophiathewriter.com and freelance writer Jackie Varriano who writes for multiple publications, we sat together to bite into our first dish of the day: Pork Tonkatsu.

Prepared by chef Hiro Kamazuka, the Panko Fried Pork Tonkatsu was served over cabbage and drizzled with Katsu Sauce along with two spicy tuna rolls.  Deliciously fried to a crispy golden brown, the pork was tender and the Katsu sauce was creamy and tasty.  The spicy tuna rolls offered a nice punch of flavors with its spicy sauce, and the tuna was fresh and moist.

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Marinated Pork and Brisket Tacos at First National Taphouse

We made our way to the next restaurant, First National Taphouse, where we were given a Taphouse Manahattan made with Ransom Whippersnapper Whiskey, Carpano Vermouth, Fee Bros. orange bitters and finished with a orange peel zest.  Created by mixologist Franco D’Amico, I loved the orange accents added into this Manhattan and enjoyed every sip.  Two super fresh and tasty Marinated Pork and Brisket Tacos were prepared by chef Jason Landis.  Amber Marinated Brisket and Pear Cider Marinated Pulled Pork were piled high inside corn tortillas with black beans, corn salsa, shredded lettuce and sour cream.  The side of house made hot sauce was absolutely delicious poured over the tacos, and the pork and brisket were flavor packed, juicy and tender – I especially loved the brisket.

From First National Taphouse, we walked a short block away to Belly where we were served one of the best fall inspired cocktails I’ve ever had – Apple of My Rye.  Prepared by Mel Mikell this blend of spiced apple cider, rye whiskey, fall spices and hazelnut milk was warm and soothing.  Juicy, yet creamy and full of delectable palate-pleasing flavors, it was outstanding  The Basque Piperade, prepared by chef Brendan Mahaney, was house Andouille sausage and fresh red and green peppers served over polenta and topped with a fried Quail egg – packed full of savory, delicious flavors.

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Belly serves up an awesome warm cider cocktail: Apple of My Rye

The next restaurant on our list was The Cannery, housed in the old Bier Stein location on 13th near campus.  We had two cocktails coming our way at The Cannery, and the first cocktail to arrive was the Basil Julep.  Served on the rocks and prepared by mixologist Morgan Pharis, this delicious concoction was made using Kentucky bourbon, muddled basil, fresh squeezed house sour and egg white.  The second cocktail, also prepared by Morgan, was my favorite of the day, the Bucha-cha.  A mixture of vodka, Ginger-Cardamom simple syrup and fresh lemon juice were shaken and served in a martini glass and topped with Brew Dr. Lemon, ginger and Cayenne Kombucha with candied ginger garnish. Light and refreshing, the ginger flavors dominated the drink and I absolutely loved it.  Our dish, prepared by chef Michael Wares, was also my favorite of the day – Parmesan Crusted Reuben.  Grilled corned beef, house made sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and house sauce was piled high on the most delicious thick and savory parmesan and fennel crusted rye bread.  I couldn’t get enough; in fact, it’s a sandwich I’m seriously craving and must have again soon – I can’t wait to return to The Cannery.

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the delicious Basil Julep at The Cannery

The two remaining restaurants that participated in Battledish were Cornucopia and Rye.  Because I was attending a Fall Harvest Dinner at Red Ridge Farms in Dayton, Oregon (I’m looking forward to writing about this spectacular event), I wasn’t able to try the dishes and drinks that were being served up at Cornucopia and Rye.

With today’s announcement of the Battledish King; as well as, gold, silver and bronze winners in the five different categories, I know I missed out on some incredible food and drinks.  Cornucopia’s mixologist, Kristine Cain, served up Dolce Venezolada, a blend of top shelf Tequila, mango puree and lime garnished with cilantro.  Chef Jeff Alvarado prepared Bacon wrapped petite pork shanks in Mole, roast turkey and butternut squash empanadas, red pepper Coulis and a ceviche made with bay scallops and mango with corn orejas.  At Rye, I missed out on chef Jeff Passerotti’s much-talked-about Portuguese Stew made with Carlton Farms braised pork with mussels, onion, paprika, saffron and piri-piri served with smashed sweet potatoes and the Wry – rye whiskey with Cocchi Americano.

The results:

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the ultimate of all ultimate Reubens: Parmesan Crusted Reuben at The Cannery

Most Creative

GOLD: Chef Brendan Mahaney at Belly for his Basque Piperade

Silver: Chef Jeff Alvarado at Cornucopia for his Pork Shanks, Empanadas and Ceviche

Bronze: Chef Jason Landis at First National Taphouse for his Marinated Pork & Brisket Tacos

Most Authentic

GOLD: Chef Jeff Passerotti at Rye for his Portuguese Pork Stew

Silver: Chef Jason Landis for his Marinated Pork & Brisket Tacos

Bronze: Chef Jeff Alvarado for his Pork Shanks, Empanadas and Ceviche

Best Modern

GOLD: Chef Michael Wares of The Cannery for his Parmesan Crusted Reuben

Silver: Chef Jeff Alvarado for his Pork Shanks, Empanadas and Ceviche

Bronze: Chef Jason Landis for his Marinated Pork & Brisket Tacos

Best Cocktail

GOLD: Apple of My Rye by Mel Mikell of Belly

Silver: Bucha-cha by Morgan Pharis of The Cannery

Bronze: Basil Julep by Morgan Pharis of The Cannery

MOST DELICIOUS AND WINNER OF BATTLEDISH

King
Chef Michael Wares of The Cannery for his Parmesan Crusted Reuben

2nd Place
Chef Jeff Passerotti at Rye for his Portuguese Stew with Smash Sweet Potatoes

3rd Place
Chef Jason Landis at First National Taphouse for his Marinated Pork and Brisket Tacos

Eugene Food Scene: Taste Testing Eugene

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Image Sandy Harris
Image Sandy Harris

I love food. I literally can’t live without it and frankly, I couldn’t be emotionally healthy if I couldn’t eat something delicious at least once throughout my day. Food is fun. It’s exciting! It spices up my life, it adds pizazz and mixes up my daily routine. Food is an adventure and Eugene’s food scene is an especially unique experience. Why? We have the luxury of being in the heart of the local food movement storming the Pacific Northwest. In this city, we know what farms our food comes from, we might even know the farmers’ names. “Farm-to-table” restaurants are not just a fantasy in Eugene. It’s a wonderful privilege that many metropolitan cities don’t get to enjoy.

I get to experience a side of the restaurants that most people don’t. As the Dishcrawl Ambassador for the Emerald City, I get to meet new restaurateurs every week. I’m an avid foodie and I love meeting my fellow epicureans. So meeting the face behind a restaurant is very exciting for me. Getting to know restaurant owners in Eugene has been an adventure I never thought I’d end up going on, but I’m glad I get to, because every day something exciting happens. Sure, I get to eat special dishes from restaurants, even help decide them sometimes, and it’s not as if tasting food has become work, but I think I’ve evolved into a person that enjoys the social interaction just a little bit more.

Image Sandy Harris
Image Sandy Harris

Doing what I do has taught me to really appreciate the people that make a restaurant; I mean really make one from the ground up with hard work, long days, stress, kitchens, appliances, ingredient suppliers, plates, silverware, table cloths, cooks, servers, the whole shebang! It is a lot of work. It takes a strong team, and a strong leader, to create a successful dining experience for their guests. And I get to meet these amazing people. But I don’t want to be selfish; I want to take you on that adventure with me.

Dishcrawl Sandy Harris
Image Sandy Harris

I always say that I’m trying to narrow the gap between the diner and chef and owner. Rarely people see the face of the team in the kitchen, yet they are, sometimes literally, a well-oiled machine working together to put all the accurately measured portions of vegetables, seasonings, meats and sauces and create a beautiful and delicious masterpiece of culinary art on your plate.

We all work, stress, and sleep, but most importantly, we all eat. It’s not everyone’s favorite thing to do, but it’s certainly one of my sacred, meditative activities. I hope you’ll enjoy a moment every week to relax and enjoy a good meal, whether it’s vicariously through me, or at your leisure, but I hope you’ll give me a chance to convert you to the Foodie lifestyle. I look forward to eating with you!