Thursday, October 09, 2014
Traveling through Oregon without visiting the beach is a bit like going to Paris and skipping the pâté de foie gras at Maxim's.
Being the hedonist I am, I was not going to let one of life's great pleasures pass me by. So, off to the beach I went on Monday.
When Professor Jiggs and I were thinking of retiring on the beach, we had Oregon, not Mexico, in mind. The dog loved the place. Being rolled by the waves. Walking in the drizzle. Chasing seals and sea gulls. It was a perfect spot for him.
I relish my annual stops. Even if the price of the place I like to stay has zipped past the tariff I left at the Hiltons in London. And, come to think of it, when did simple meals at the beach start costing $20 per person?
But that is not the reason I go to the beach. This is.
Days like that are what refurbish the Oregon soul. Even when the next day can look like this.
Usually, this shot would show miles of Oregon coastal scenery. But fog is just another element that gives the beach its flavor.
And so does the sign humor. My room was on the third story of a converted beach house. It overlooked a bluff of almost that height.
This sign says it all.
Go ahead. Smoke. You need to walk ten feet across the five foot balcony. That is what happens when the nice and political correct elements of Oregonians crash together. Oregonians are often mistaken for Minnesotans.
What was not so amusing on this trip was the food. Lincoln City once offered three very good restaurants. A French bistro that has now been downgraded to a fish house. The Salishan dining room, once the most highly-praised restaurants on the northwest coast, and now a place to buy dishes reminiscent of the Salem senior center. And the Bay House.
Unfortunately, I did not look at the Bay House's schedule before I headed to the beach. It is open only Wednesday through Saturday. And I was leaving on Wednesday morning.
But my disappointment was tempered when I heard that the Rogue River Steakhouse had some of the best food around. Tempered, that is, until I learned the steakhouse was located in the Chinook Winds Casino. My skeptic meter pegged.
I should have heeded it. It is hard to ruin a prime rib dinner. But the restaurant lived up to the "rogue" in its name.
The salad was nothing but a pile of lettuce with a few orphaned grape tomatoes and a vinaigrette that would have felt at home in a crank case. I suspect its last home was in a Kraft bottle.
The dinner plate was delivered by a highly indifferent waiter. That was fine. Because the food was even less engaged than he was. I suspect that the meal was dished out of the casino's buffet line.
The baked potato was burnt on the outside and hard inside. Its condiments were housed in little plastic containers giving the presentation the distinct feel of a low-budget picnic on the beach.
The meat was not aged. No. That is not fair. It was aged. The problem is that it was aged under a heat lamp after it was slapped on the plate. And there was nothing redeeming in the taste.
By far, the worst portion of the meal were the vegetables. An odd assortment of asparagus, carrots, summer squash, and zucchini cooked until they were as limp as a Joe Biden apology. The only imagination that went into the dish was trying to figure out how to open the Birds Eye frozen bag.
But that sounds like carping. It isn't. The trip to the beach, as always, was a success.
It did remind me, though, that I have no regrets for not moving there. It will always remain a great to visit, but not a place to live.
And I still have those memories of Jiggs doing his best to bring back a trophy to Salem.