Tough Decisions in McMinnville, OR

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Have you ever heard of McMinnville, Oregon? Until I decided to visit the Willamette Valley for wine tasting, I hadn’t. And I had no idea McMinnville restaurants were a foodie paradise, so I got lucky that the best accomodation options in the area was near the downtown.

I got lots of great recommendations but Nick’s and Thistle came out on top. And when I found out Thistle, “Nose to Tail, Farm to Fork Dining” had been the inspiration for my favorite restaurant’s Chef Whim tasting menu, I knew where I had to go!

The exterior is unassuming but cute (this photo was borrowed from their website, no vintage car on my visit!)

exterior thistle mcminnville photo courtesy of restaurant

Very cool funky retro interior and as a solo diner (of which there were several) I was seated in the front with a great view of the kitchen.

Thistle McMinnville Restaurants kitchen

I ordered the Chef’s Whim and asked about a wine pairing. The waitress showed me an extensive menu of wines by the glass and also offered to “do her best”. I decided to go with the latter option.

Thistle McMinnville Restaurants drink menu

fun cocktail menu

Thistle McMinnville Restaurants wines by the glass

While I waited, I studied the menu on the wall and tried to guess what I might be getting.

Thistle McMinnville Restaurants wall menu

And I must say, you gotta respect a place that has “Bread & Fat” as a menu option.

Thistle McMinnville Restaurants Bread & Fat

The first glass of wine to come out was sparkling, and I guessed the appetizer wrong.

Thistle McMinnville Restaurants oysters

It wound up being some delightful Netarts Bay Oysters. Normally I don’t care for Oysters, but they were very fresh and well prepared and the sparkling for a local Oregon winery was a nice pairing.

Next up was the smoked rockfish with potato, fava beans, and amazing aioli nicely paired with a rose.

Thistle McMinnville Restaurants smoked rockfish

Then some charred beef tongue. My first ever trying beef tongue. I tried to not like it, but I couldn’t. It had a lovely beefy texture and flavor and was nicely paired with a pinot noir.

Thistle McMinnville Restaurants charred beef tongue

The fourth course was sturgeon two ways — grilled sturgeon topped with sweet pea flowers and local mushrooms and pickled sturgeon with ginger.

Thistle McMinnville Restaurants sturgen grilled pickled

My phone died at this point and so I couldn’t photograph the fifth course which was dessert. The dessert was cake (which I can’t quite remember) and quite nice, but the savories were definitely the highlight.

The 5 course dinner was somewhere around $70-$75 and the wine pairing a ridiculously good bargain at $25!

More from this trip

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel


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