Cultivating a community of world-class kitchens, where the bounty of the valley extends beyond the vineyards.
At JORY–which already makes a statement by being the rare four-star restaurant named after a kind of soil–Executive Chef Sunny Jin likes equanimity. To wit: the two guys in jeans still dirty from their vineyards receive the same attention as the party of four just in from Paris. For all who are in his dining room, Jin works to distill the richness of the Yamhill Valley into his menu which changes daily at JORY, the signature restaurant at The Allison Inn & Spa.
To match the vast 800-label wine list, JORY sends foragers out into the countryside, has buyers stationed on the Oregon docks, and draws from its own extensive gardens and those of nearby farms and vineyards. Jin will also help at local butcherings. None of this preempts him from creating an elegant setting for the day’s spring Chinook salmon run and the rest of the area’s bounty.
A few miles away, The Painted Lady sets out its own enthralling experience, serving elaborate prix fixe meals in a Victorian house. Also deeply connected to the valley’s wines and resources, Chef Allen Routt offers dishes such as pan-roasted sturgeon with black garlic and rutabaga puree.
For four decades, Nick’s Italian Café in McMinnville has been the hangout of the Willamette wine world, feeding crab lasagna to winemakers and accumulating legendary vintages. Nick Peirano has now been succeeded by his daughter and son-in-law, but Nick’s is still a landmark among the vines.
There has also been a family succession at the Joel Palmer House in Dayton, where chef Chris Czarnecki has taken over his father Jack’s inspired wild mushroom-infused kitchen, matching the local pinot noir with Oregon’s phenomenal fungi.
The Yamhill Valley has become a national dining destination, with a range of restaurants extending from the French country appeal of Cuvée in Carlton, to the boutique precision of Thistle in McMinnville to the casual charm of Dundee Bistro. New possibilities pop up constantly, as young chefs are drawn to a region so rich in wines and almost anything else that grows here.
For those who want to get closer to the vines than a restaurant table, there’s also a plethora of delis, bakeries and cheese shops offering the makings for an outstanding winery picnic. Wineries graciously accommodate this by setting out welcoming tables for these baskets of moveable feasts.
For all of the valley’s restaurants and food markets, there’s a powerful quality control–the person who just ordered the meal could very well have made the wine that goes with it.