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Photo by Gary Hayes
If your idea of a great getaway is sampling great food and wine, there are several spots to consider on your coastal itinerary. Lounges and wine bars offer extensive wine lists and culinary creations designed to let you create your own tasting experience. You can sample fine Northwest wines and regional foods or venture to other corners of the world. Your choices range from some of the best-known fine dining restaurants on the coast to casual newcomers with differing atmospheres, emphasis on wine and styles of food. Sip wine and savor small plates with a view of a scenic coastal bay, the Columbia River or soak up the ambiance of an old English pub or restaurants converted from an historic railroad depot or retired city firehouse.
In Lincoln City, long-time fine dining icon The Bay House has added a beautiful new lounge where you can order off the coast's largest wine list with some 2000 selections. The wine list here is literally a book categorized by varietal and region. There's also an unbelievable 74 wines available by the glass and 160 bottles available in the half-bottle format. The list pretty much covers the globe, but there are broad selections of Oregon Pinot Noir (285 selections), California Cabernet Sauvignon (200 selections), French (195 selections) and Italian wines (90 selections). From 2-6pm, the lounge features a small plates menu that includes a Kobe beef slider, crab cakes, soup and salad with prices ranging from $4-$6. All of this gastronomic pleasure comes with cozy seating areas, a fireplace and a fabulous view of Siletz Bay.
For a more casual experience in Lincoln City, the Tanger Outlets shopping center is home to Sip Wine & Bistro. The wine store and bar offers 175 bottle selections and always a selection of wines by the glass, as well as wine tasting. There are many choices in Oregon wines, but selections also include California, Washington and import wines from around the world. For a casual bite, Sip offers grilled panini sandwiches, soups and salads.
When Anne and Tony Kischner opened their new venture, Bridgewater Bistro in Astoria after 25 years operating the Shoalwater restaurant in Seaview, they included an emphasis on small plates (tapas). The wine list is not as expansive as the Shoalwater's, but at 255 bottles, it's still impressive. There are nearly 30 wines available by the glass. There's definitely an emphasis on Northwest wines, but there are also choices from California, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Australia, Chile and Argentina. The tapas menu includes seafood, vegetarian and meat dishes, as well as snack noshes such as olives or curried cashews and "Shared Bites" choices like Gruyere cheese fondue, Alaskan King "crabscargot" and steamed Manila clams. Chef Red Pelletier serves up her signature Dungeness crab cheesecake with wild mushroom meunierre sauce, chili-lime prawns and a house cured tataki salmon with seaweed salad among the seafood small plates. Pork tenderloin with orange chipotle glaze and Swedish meatballs are included in the meat plates. Choose the bar or the expansive dining room with views of the Columbia River. Tapas are served from 3pm till closing, seven days a week and prices range from $3 to $11.
Across the Columbia River in Ilwaco, Raven & Finch Wine Bar and Cafe at the Port of Ilwaco offers 60 bottles of wine, wine by the glass and bottles for retail sale. The wine list has an emphasis on European wines. Food is limited to appetizer-sized plates including cheese, salami, bruschetta, caprese salad, almonds and olives available at all hours, 4pm to close.
Just a few minutes to the north of Ilwaco is Seaview, where you will find the Shelburne Inn and The Depot, both worthy choices for a glass of wine and a light bite. The Shelburne Inn features a wine list of well over 150 bottles with an emphasis on the Northwest, but with choices from around the world too. Sit surrounded by the glorious Art Nouveau stained glass windows that date from the late 1800s in the pub. A lunch pub menu is served that includes sandwiches, pizza, salads, soup and entrees such as pan-fried oysters or fontina and Gruyere cheese fondue. During dinner hours, appetizers also include Asian style sherry-ginger prawns and Oysters Rockefeller. At The Depot, the wine list includes at least 60 choices by the bottle, a mix of Northwest and import choices. You can sit at the bar in the restaurant that was once the old railroad depot. Small plates include sea scallops in a Peruvian mango salsa, Thai calamari with a peanut-cilantro sauce and a pan-seared port tenderloin on cumin scented black beans.
Yummy Wine Bar & Bistro in Seaside combines an urban chic, but casual setting at the east end of Broadway downtown. The worn concrete floors that were the fire truck bays of the city's old fire station, with original painted striping, were retained. Choose from casual seating areas with chairs, couches, a small bar or a traditional table. There are approximately 75 bottles of wine that are also available for retail sale (to go). There is always a selection of wines by the glass and a daily flight of three wines. You can also make your own flight with wines available in a two ounce tasting pour. There are a number of appetizers, soups and salads from which to choose, plus artisan cheese, cured meat and hors d'oeuvre platters. The menu changes seasonally, but some current offerings include a delicious ahi tuna tartar served with avocado, wakame seaweed and a slightly spicy wasabi-soy dressing and Dungeness crab cakes feature a shaved fennel salad and a spicy chili aioli. From 3pm to 6pm, there's also a choice of small bites for only $4.
In the lounge at the Wayfarer restaurant in Cannon Beach, you can choose from a wine list featuring over 100 wines including Northwest, California, imports and sparkling. Approximately 25 wines are offered by the glass. Among several starter items on the menu are Avocado Fingers that are beer battered, deep fried and served with a blue cheese dipping sauce. Warm goat cheese and roasted garlic comes with a warm baguette and an herbed olive medley. Jumbo mushroom caps are filled with Rogue River blue cheese, Oregon Pinot Noir, cream cheese and garlic, then baked to a golden brown. The comfortable bar features a fireplace and limited ocean views.