Thursday, May 2, 2013

Honeymoon: Nick's Italian Cafe, McMinnville OR

Thursday May 2, McMinnville OR

After tasting at Eyrie we drove a very few blocks to the very nearby Nick's Italian Café where I haven't visited since the mid-1980s. We wanted to order everything on the menu. Seriously. Look at it. We also got a look at the dinner menu, which is almost identical, with the addition of a few secondi. Seriously, look at this menu and drool. I changed my mind: try not to drool. I bet you can't.

So the place isn't a whole lot to look at. If you're expecting something other than a café, you'd be disappointed, but we really don't give a crap what the inside of a restaurant looks like. We're there for the food. The décor is gravy. At Nick's we really like the one long wall of barrel staves: that's a pretty cool statement of where the restaurant is located.

Not Much to Look at
Cool Wall of Barrel Staves

Nick's has a hell of a wine list for a small café and the list of Pinots is a veritable who's who of the Willamette Valley. Ann's favorite wine of our Wednesday tasting was the 2011 Ayres "Perspective" and so I ordered a bottle for her. Not that I minded in the least. This is one great wine!

Yes, Please!

We started with panzanella which turned out to be more of a green salad than a bread salad, but who cares. This mixture of Arugula, grilled bread, tapenade, and mozzarella in a lemony dressing was a great, honest salad. I would have been happy with just that for lunch. This is Ed food: direct, clean, honest, and flavorful. I don't think I have words for how pleasing this salad was to me.

Simple, Bold, Direct, and Awesome!

Ann was hell bent on pizza and I don't blame her. The potato pizza with sautéed stinging nettles and red chile flakes was as good a pizza as I have had in years. You could have put dog poop on a crust that good and it still would have been a great pie! Pretty cool to be serving the pizzas on barrel lids. Our health inspector would have a cow!

For those of you reading along who wonder about stinging nettles, their nasty stinging habit aside, they could be spinach or any mild green. At the restaurant, we use them every spring when they are in season.

Potato and Stinging Nettle Pizza

And we ordered a pork panino of slow-roasted pork belly, fennel seed, chili flakes, sage, rosemary, and braised rapini. The bread was awesome and the sandwich was tasty, but we are spoiled by my off-the-hook pork belly and this wasn't even close. On the plate also were homemade potato chips (a tad over-fried) and homemade giardiniera that was outstanding. [Psst. Nick's: I'll come out and show you how to make really phenomenal pork belly. You show me how to work a wood-fired oven that makes crust that freaking awesome! Deal? Call me.]

The Giardiniera was the Highlight of This Plate

Because One Photo is not Enough

After lunch, despite our plans to hit the Dundee Hills and visit White Rose and Durant, I guess it all caught up with me and we headed back to the B&B where I took a long nap before cleaning up for dinner. I was at the point where I just couldn't and didn't want to visit another winery or taste another wine. It happens.

This would prove to be the second best meal we ate in Oregon and I would love to go back and eat my way through the entire menu.

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