“Happy 25th Anniversary” written in blue and yellow chalk adorns the sidewalk outside the entrance to the Side Door Café in Gleneden Beach. I called ahead for reservations and mentioned we were celebrating this special event. Inside, our table is decorated with red rose petals and a twisted red streamer down the center. That’s just the start to our delightful celebratory evening.
A refurbished tile-production warehouse is the home of this exceptional café, just off the beaten track of Highway 101. From the booths and tables situated around the room, you can see a large window at the front of the restaurant and a cozy lit fireplace to the side. The high, dark, exposed beams at the ceiling along with the mahogany-colored walls give the interior a rich elegant feeling. Hanging plants drape the sides of the booths and different colored pots of plants placed around the room add to the lush interior.
Our waiter is friendly and eager to make our dinner a memorable one. He smiles at our delight in the chalked welcome at the entrance and the decorations at our table. Throughout the dinner he appears and disappears, as if by magic, taking care of our every whim.
The smell of freshly baked bread wafts through the room. As plates pass our table to their respective guests, the spicy rich aromas of the entrées tease our noses: Parmesean Encrusted Fresh Halibut atop Cappelini Pasta, Dungeness Crab Cakes on a bed of Sautéed Spinach in a pool of Tomato Saffron Broth, Fire Roasted Rack of Lamb with Summer Vegetable Risotto, Seafood Fettuccini tossed with Sherried Pesto Cream Sauce.
We have eaten at the Side Door Café several times before and know exactly what we want for our anniversary dinner. Honey Mustard and Herb Rubbed Local Chinook Salmon drizzled with Marionberry Glaze, accompanied by Fruited Wild Rice and Fresh Sautéed Seasonal Vegetables, a Caesar Salad to split, and a bottle of Cristom Pinot Noir (2007 vintage) completes our order.
While we wait for our salad, we glance around the room. Even though it’s summer, the small fire gives off an intimate warm glow as if respecting the muted conversations and ambiance of the evening.
Our wine’s smoky cherry nose gives way to sweet spices of anise and cinnamon with a raspberry fruit follow through on the palette. The Caesar Salad is cold and crisp with a tangy pleasant bite to the dressing. The superb Salmon flakes easily and the Marion Berry sauce adds a wonderful sweet flavor to the hint of honey mustard coating. Fruited Wild Rice is an amazing accompaniment and soaks up some of the berry sauce. Sautéed vegetables of zucchini, onion, and carrots complete our dinner.
We remember to save a little room for dessert, and choose to share the bread pudding with chocolate chips, which does not disappoint. Custardy bread pudding with chocolate chips layered throughout and a drizzle of chocolate syrup is a piece of heaven and a perfect way to end the evening.