BANDON, Ore. - Alloro Wine Bar

By Carl and Jamie Dombek

Oh. My. GOODNESS. Outstanding! Not to be missed.

Carl has often said that it is difficult – and sometimes unfair – to judge a restaurant by a single visit but on our first visit to Alloro Wine Bar in the old town area of Bandon, Oregon, they absolutely hit it out of the park.

We popped in about 5 o’clock one afternoon after a long day on the road, hungry for some quick sustenance, and their happy hour specials seemed just the thing to get us in the door. Happily, they had so much more to offer, and we must admit we indulged in a lot of it.

Flight of four South African wines

Sue, the chef/co-owner, told us they feature wines from a different country every month, and this month (June) was South Africa. A flight of four one-ounce pours ($10) introduced us to two very nice whites and two luscious reds from MAN Vintners, a dynamic young winery established in 2001 producing fruit forward, modern-style varietal wines from the Agter-Paarl region of South Africa. A Chenin Blanc, a white blend, a red blend and a Pinotage under the winery’s Tormentoso label set the tone for the evening.

Wine and oysters

As we had gone a long time since breakfast, we could not simply sip wine without something more substantial, so we chose the Hood Canal oysters from Washington state and what they called the antipasto appetizer, which we thought was best described as a charcuterie plate. In addition to crackers and lavosh wafers, it included two types of sausage, a tomato tapenade, deep-fried caper berries, pecorino and marinated feta cheeses, cured olives and seasoned, toasted cashews.

For our main course, we selected sea scallops served with fiddle head ferns, a spätzle in orange sauce, green pea puree, a couple of small, purple carrots and a wedge of potato. The scallops were prepared perfectly, and the accompaniments were equally delicious.

Sea scallops - delicious!

Not quite sated, we opted for a bit of savory dessert: a cheese plate accompanied by glasses of 10-year-old Tawny port. The cheese plate included four artisan cheeses and flatbread.

Accompanying the delicious food was delightfully attentive service. Although Eva was our main server, staff members at Alloro take ownership over all their guests. Sue brought some of the dishes herself, the bartender brought others and ensured that our water glasses were full, and Eva checked back just often enough to ensure we had everything we needed without being overbearing. Having worked in the industry, Carl can attest: that’s often a tough balance to strike.

Had Jamie had her way, we’d have stayed even longer than the nearly two hours we lingered, as local guitarist J. Michael Steele had begun serenading the guests with strains of the tunes we Boomers grew up with, including Jimmy Buffet’s immortal, “A Pirate Looks at 40.” As Carl was singing along and teasingly said he was going to go up and sing harmonies with him, Eva our server said that actually happened fairly often.

With soothing warm décor and white table cloths, this 45-seat restaurant is decidedly upmarket but far from stuffy. In fact, the menu offered more irresistible delights for tomorrow night: mussels for the appetizer and a duck breast entrée, not to mention ribeye. The wine list is extensive, as is the cocktails menu. Needless to say, we made reservations and will be returning during our second night in Bandon.

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