Being in the magazine business, there are some perks.
One being the “Press Luncheons” we are invited to once in a while by Bette Sinclair – or as the Oregonian calls her: “Media Powerhouse, Bette Sinclair.”
They aren’t kidding.
Bette, being in the PR biz. for a while, knows ALL the great places to eat, and today we were invited to a luncheon at Tina’s in Dundee.
Various members of the press assembled to help celebrate Tina’s 20th anniversary.
Of course, the idea is we will in turn tell everyone else.
Well, let me tell you…
Owners Tina and David Bergen opened 20 years ago when, as David said today, “There were maybe 10 wineries in the area.”
We all know there are a few more now, and the locally sourced food and wine has just gotten better and better. There was some discussion, amongst the diners, of the “chicken ordering” scene from Portlandia, but in reality the local produce and meat really IS that good! I don’t know for sure, what kind of life the cow had who provided the spare rib that was on my plate today, but I can tell you the meat was straight from heaven.
Having enjoyed a great 20 years so far, Tina and David have decided to enhance their already fantastic offerings with more gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. Tina and David have recently brought on a new chef from San Francisco, new blood, and we’re guessing she’s a chef that we’ll be hearing about for some time to come: Abby McManigle. Abby knows her stuff.
Abby prepared a special menu of samplings for the media types in attendance, and it was fan-tastic (yes the hyphen is on purpose).
Lunch began with a Grilled Asparagus Sushi – wrapped in chard with a filling of sushi rice, roasted asparagus, and a spot of briar rose chevre (just enough). It was truly an inspired appetizer. Being used to the usual seaweed-wrapped sushi, the chard was such a refreshing and smooth change it just began the meal with a “get ready, this is going to be really good” kind of a tone.
Next, Pan Fried Razor Clams. Out of this world. Served with a sorrel aioli / mayonnaise – which was just delicious, and the perfect compliment. The sorrel lifted the mayonnaise from the realm of a “tartar sauce with seafood,” to a world of garden fresh, light deliciousness.
One more appetizer…
Chickpea Frites, sounds boring right? Wrong, the chickpeas were swirled into a hummus-like consistency, but firm and formed into little sticks, then quickly fried – like potatoes (pommes). Served with a harissa ketchup, these were another fabulous creation. Light, flavorful, fresh. If we were served nothing but these, I would have been cool with that. But thankfully, there was more.
Seared Sea Scallops. Perfect scallop, with just the right amount of sear and cook time paired with one of the most interesting things of the day: Spring Pea Pureé, and Fresh Pea Salad. The pea pureé was served warm with a light, otherworldly olive oil — perfect consistency, so flavorful, so good!
Next, Carrot Cashew Crépes. Served aside charmoula braised greens and blood orange salad. Almost a Middle-Eastern slant, but not too heavy on the spice, in a very nice little crépe. A very nice, light dish with the zing of fresh orange and the bitter greens. Another winner.
Then… The Braised Short Rib. Oh my little friend, the braised short rib – with Sautéed Fava Shoots and a Beet-Fennel Gremolata. The beef was beyond good. Just the perfect steakhouse flavor of good beef cooked to a lean, cut-with-a-fork tenderness. And the Beet-Fennel accompaniment was like a mouth of farm fresh goodness on a fork. I love beets anyway, but Abby had worked some kind of magic on them… possibly a brine? They were astringent, salty, sweet, and delicious — all at the same time. Very, very good.
Then… dessert. I could have had another round of all of the above first, but OK, twist my arm, bring on the desserts.
Almond Rhubarb Cake with Strawberry Lemoncello Sorbet — a perfect pound cake (one of my top five food items) with a lightly cooked rhubarb that was just delicious. And the lemoncello sorbet – – bring me salad bowl of that please!
Chocolate Coconut Mousse Cake – Gluten Free, and salted caramel, coconut choco-delicious. Looking for gluten-free? Look here!
Red Velvet Donut, with a passion fruit sabayon. These were like little beignets with a tiny pitcher of Sabayon (maybe with a little champagne, or wine?).
Step one: split red velvet ball in half, step two: bathe in sabayon, step 3: gone.
The dining room is very comfortable, relaxed and just has a “good vibe.” There’s a fireplace, and a nice intimate bar, and of course the wines are world-class, as one would expect from a place located smack dab in the middle of Oregon’s Wine Country.
The owners and staff are just as friendly as you’d expect a small, farm town neighbor to be. No pretentious wine snooty-ness here. Great folk — the kind who know wine and food so well, that they’re over trying to impress with anything other than their top drawer food and wine! And impressive it is.
Tina’s is definitely a tier-one kind of a dining experience. Five stars. Tres Bien. Two thumbs up, and that’s only because I don’t have more thumbs.
Food lovers, get over there as soon as possible.
760 Hwy 99W
Dinner nightly from 5:00 on.
Lunch Tues – Fri 11:30 til 2:00