Sunday, December 11, 2011

Crêpe Is The New Birthday Cake!

REVIEW: THE VINTAGE Restaurant – Eugene, Oregon

It was a long drive just for lunch. But my husband said we weren’t going out just for the heck of dining out. It was my birthday (December 3) and he wanted to give me a treat. He didn’t give me a window on what to expect though. But that did not get me thinking. Hubby and I share the same knack for food so I trusted his gourmet taste.

My birthday cake last year
Like I said, I was clueless about the day’s game plan. Part of the trip I guess was to take me on a road trip but the weather that morning wasn’t cooperating. It was so foggy! No sight of evergreens and maple trees in a vista. Nothing to see except traces of mountains covered in thick fog. That is, if you’re lucky.  The only thing visible was the road. Thank heavens! Otherwise, it would have been a very dangerous trip.

We left Corvallis around 1PM with me having no idea of where we were going. He said, it would take almost an hour to get “there. “ As we left our home city and got closer to a place I have never been (I’d find out a few minutes later that it’s called Eugene), the fog seemed to dissolve into thin air. Or maybe, Eugene knew I was coming! Like a pop-up in the sky, the Sun miraculously gave me its light rays’ show all of a sudden. Hello Sunshine!

The city is known mainly for two things: the Ducks of the University of Oregon and for being the de facto residence of some of the country’s leftover hippies. As we got closer to the city’s core, the view from inside the car allowed me to explore some more. You just know that artists live here. Wall paintings pockmarked every corner. Graffiti was present everywhere. Proofs of the active local music scene were all over the place. Plus, the street fashion gave away all the clues on why Eugene has always been the destination for writers, artists and music performers!

My sightseeing was cut short when the car pulled over in front of what appeared to be a worship hall at West 8th Street. I got out of the car and was deprived of fresh air when I smelled some bong resin. I realized that where we stopped at wasn't a religious house. Its name is WOW, a music center for the local performers. My husband obviously smelled the "pot fragrance" too but he simply shrugged his shoulders and said “Welcome to Eugene!”

We strolled a little bit, unmindful of the passersby. Hubby was looking on a small sheet of paper all along, probably the address of where we were going. We continued walking until he said “Here we are!

The Vintage
And I was surprised to see a structure that looked like a half-kept old two-storey house. The facade of the building appeared to be uninviting although I did like the fact that they have an outdoor patio. So, I followed my husband inside and read the signboard of this small and unassuming restaurant that can easily be knocked out by an expecting diner.  THE VINTAGE.

As a classic example of the “Don’t judge the book by its cover” adage, the place welcomed me to a sweet, intimate and homey setting. As we waited to be seated, I gazed around and realized that the Vintage has a cozy interior! The halls were decked with artworks that virtually took me to a trip around Oregon’s scenic spots. A friendly waitress gave us a romantic little spot by the window. She came back with the menu and gave us all the time to pick what we wanted to try. When I wasn’t looking, Hubby secretly asked her something. I saw that she shook her head, to my husband’s disappointment. Then I overheard her saying “it’s only available after 4PM.”

The FONDUE was the draw but we arrived around 2PM. He told the waitress that we were there for my birthday and that was his special treat for me. He then turned to me and suggested that we go out somewhere and just come back at 4PM but we were too hungry to leave. Plus, what if the next place would turn out to be bad?

So we stayed and checked the menu again. The Vintage offers crêpes (lunch or dessert), sandwiches and burgers, steaks, a selection of cocktails, etc. The prices were reasonable or to a point, fantastic. The waitress was too nice to give us a picture of how big the servings were when we asked. We were happy to know that it is easy and possible for not-so-big eaters (Like us!) to share a meal with someone so that you can split an already reasonably-priced dish even further!

We decided to “make our own” crêpe, instead of ordering for what were suggested on the menu. For our lunch meal, we opted to stuff it with roasted chicken, avocado, roasted peppers, spinach, chèvre and pecans. For dessert, we ordered the Classy Creme Crêpe. A few minutes later, we asked the waitress that we also wanted the Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Crêpe.

Crêpe is the new birthday cake!
We didn’t expect that the friendly waitress would come back with two plates for our lunch. Wow, they already divided the crêpe and spinach salad instead of us doing it! Talk about top-notch service. It inspired me to mentally start this review in my mind that time.

But the pleasant and unique experience didn’t stop there! The melange of the flavours in our lunch crêpe was unbelievably awesome! The richness almost had us order for another round but we have to spare some room for the stars of the day, the dessert crêpes. Also, the spinach salad topped with chèvre and pecans proved to be the best partner for our choice of crêpe! I must say that the choice of chèvre was the perfect foil to the sweet goodness of the candied pecans.

The moment for the Classy Creme (ripe strawberries and sweet ricotta cheese) and Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake crêpes (pureed pumpkin with cinnamon, nutmeg and sweet ricotta cheese) came. It was equally stellar! I was awestruck by the beautiful arrangement too! Both served with real whipped cream, these heavenly treats made me let go of whatever restraint I have with eating. They made me drop my issues with sugary stuff. Ahhh, I was a very satisfied and happy little camper!



I told my husband that they could strip their menu bare and leave me with just these blissful crêpes and I will still come back.

The Verdict: PHENOMENAL
Overall, everything ended on a positive note. Our dining trip to the Vintage was really phenomenal. What more can we ask for? It was a very laidback, quiet place, with excellent food, impressive service and a great setting. We finished our meals around 3PM and we thought of waiting for another hour so we can have the fondue. But we just got too full! So, we agreed to be back in the future.

The place is not only great for lunch. We found out that they have a popular variety of things going on at night but you know, we won’t go there when everybody is there for the booze. And if you’re one who is used to instant food services, please don’t visit this place and later write a review about the slow service. Food here doesn’t come from the factory. The skilled kitchen team delivers all the magic! (Not the free MSG and trans-fat you get from drive through or fast food joints).

I can’t wait to be back and try the fondue. Plus, have a rendezvous with the three divine crêpes I mentioned above!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

PHOTO: Lonely Strawberry


B-U-S-Y! It's the most overused word in my vocabulary lately, next to "love." I am supposed to share a note about how I spent my birthday, what I (or "we") did on that day. Or was it anything more special than my daily life? As much as I want to sit down and blab about it, research and writing have been killing me a lot and I don't want to write an article just for the sake of coming up with one.

So today, as my way of saying hello and letting you know that "I still manage to keep my head above water amid all these swamped schedules," I am sharing one of my favorite pics. Took this photo last summer. The Star of the Berry Tub (blueberries & blackberries in the background) -- Lonely Strawberry.