Yesterday we left our beautiful 4th Flat at Third Street Flats in McMinnville and stopped for a light lunch at Nick's Italian Cafe just down the road. Nick's is a great neighborhood place with very good food!
We stopped by Twelve Wine (a few doors down from Nick's) after lunch to taste a couple wines. (Kevin had previously worked with the owner of Twelve Wine. We were sitting next to him on a flight back from San Jose about a year ago and found out he and his wife owned a vineyard in Carlton. Glad we finally got down there to try their wines!) We left with a couple bottles of wine, and picked up a few chocolates at Honest Chocolates (they share a storefront with Twelve Wines, and they had pumpkin bacon ganache chocolates…how could we resist?) and then we headed to our next stop: Inn at Red Hills in Dundee.
(**Note: My original plan for Kevin's birthday dinner on Tuesday was to take him to Paulée. However, Paulée is closed on Tuesdays and so was born the "Three days of food and wine in the Oregon wine country extravaganza birthday celebration" with the last night being dinner at Paulée.)
We checked into our room at the Inn (which was fine, but not nearly as cool as our 4th Flat was), worked for a bit, and decided to visit one more winery we'd read about (just down the road — the Dobbes Family Estate). Joe Dobbes has been making wine since 1985 and created the Dobbes Family Estate in Dundee, Oregon in 2003.
We walked into the tasting room from the cold (27 degrees or something!) and were immediately and warmly greeted by Joe's wife, Patricia. She was incredibly friendly and charming, and made sure we had a lovely tasting experience. (Thanks Patricia!) Joe makes some fantastic wines, and his second label, Wine by Joe, (from the website:) "is one of the first high quality screw top ventures in Oregon, producing quality Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc varietals. Wishing to give back, Joe donates a portion of all WINE BY JOE proceeds to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Northwest. "
They also have a Charitable Giving Program where each quarter, a different employee has the opportunity to select a cause that has special meaning to them. During that quarter they feature a wine and donate 10 percent of its sales to the chosen charity.
Cool people. Good wine.
Okay, and now finally: Paulée.
Our reservation was for 6pm.
– midweek in December
– the week or so after Thanksgiving
– when the temp outside is 27 degrees Fahrenheit
– and the forecast is for snow
And that's how we ended up being the only party for dinner last night. We sat at the chef's counter and had the 9 course chef's tasting menu with wine pairings, and it was incredible.
I took no photos at all except this one from the counter into the kitchen, but trust me, the food was gorgeously plated and expertly crafted. The ambiance inside was lovely as well: warm, contemporary, inviting. Here's a shot from their website so you can get a feel for the interior:
The chefs and the servers were so wonderful. There's no way you could really plan for this kind of focused, individual treatment (well, unless you bought the restaurant out for yourselves for the night I suppose) and we feel pretty lucky to have happened into it. We will definitely be coming back to Paulée.