Growing up outside the Willamette Valley in Eastern and Central Oregon meant my parents piled the kids in the station wagon—I preferred the back end, with more room and a barrier between me and my two younger brothers—every few months and drove over the mountains to Portland. These trips always involved a stop about halfway for a bathroom break, coffee, lunch or pie at a café, some landmark place my parents had been stopping since they were young marrieds.
Basil gimlet, anyone?
Even now on road trips to the coast, usually much shorter journeys than those of my childhood but still requiring a stop to fortify or relieve, I was always looking for a place that reminded me of those childhood cafés, but never really found one that felt right. Until just recently, that is.
Chili likes it, too.
The esteemed Czarnecki family, founders and owners of the Joel Palmer House in Dayton (father Jack has been featured extensively on Good Stuff NW), decided that what wine country needed was not another wine-themed bistro with precious tchotchkes and even more precious pricing, but a good burger and a solid tap list. So son Chris, chef and current owner of Joel Palmer, decided to rehabilitate a historic restaurant and bar across from Dayton's Courthouse Square Park to provide locals and travelers a casual place to meet and have a bite. In other words, a good old-fashioned tavern.
The Barlow Room is a comfortable brick-walled room with a bar along one wall featuring the aforementioned beers, but also an intriguing cocktail list—my basil gimlet was made with basil from the tavern's garden out back—as well as small plates for noshing, sandwiches, salads, pastas and desserts. (And that signature burger? Well, just know that when I'm craving a burger, this is the one I'll be thinking of.) A destination all on its own, it'll also give weary wine-tasters a welcome break when their tastebuds tire of pinots, not to mention anyone traveling through and needing a place to stop and refuel.
Details: The Barlow Room, 306 Ferry St., Dayton. 503-714-4328.