Where to eat in Hood River, Oregon: Celilo

06. March 2007 Portland, Oregon 0

After a half-day of snowboarding for the first time in two years, we were famished. Next to the Oak Street Hotel was Brian’s Pourhouse. It came recommended by the front desk, but we decided to skip it after we noticed the TV at the bar. Across the street was Three Rivers Grill. We crossed to check out the menu but stopped halfway after we saw the large sign up front: “Buy one steak, get another free. Wednesday nights.” During our drive down from Mt. Hood, I remembered seeing a restaurant that looked nice, so I coerced the Dr. to walk a few more blocks to check it out. (Our legs were sore, so walking took some convincing.) As soon as we saw that there were lamb chops on the menu, we walked in Celilo.

We knew we wanted a local Pinot Noir. We only ordered half of the Elk Cove because we wanted to start with a dirty martini–the Dr.’s latest drink–and the pear-flavored champagne, described as “pure Oregon in a glass”. We started with half a dozen of the oysters. A year ago, there was a warning not to eat oysters from the Pacific Northwest. I haven’t heard any bad news since then but they were as salty and sweet as I remember them. The pear and walnut salad was hefty, just the way I like my salads. And the lamb? Much better than I expected. The chops came with braised shoulder, which made the dish more than perfect for winter. For dessert, we stuck with our usual pick, a tart tarte (ha!), a homemade combination of huckleberry filling and vanilla ice cream.

The service was nice. There’s just no other way to describe the attitude of food servers outside New York City. I can call them “slow”, but I know that’s unfair since New York is the only city I’ve been that’s in a perpetual hurry. Regardless of the place, when I ask for medium-rare, I expect medium-rare. Celilo fulfilled everything we asked for except the dirty in the Dr.’s martini, but at $104 for two including tip, I turn most of the Cia off. I play nice in return. The martini stayed clean.

Celilo Restaurant and Bar is at 16 Oak Street in Hood River, Oregon. We walked in without reservations, but during busy season, call 541/386.5710.

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