The hidden gem of Bandon

Last weekend, Tess and I made our way west to Bandon, Ore. to get our fill of crab and other seafood delights. The couple of days we spent at the beach were nothing less than marvelous.

The days stood at a staggering 80 degrees on the beach with no wind and visibility for 20 miles. We hit the low tide, very low tide at around 8:30 a.m. and were able to walk around the tide pools at our leisure. There seemed to be no one on the beach for this beautiful day and seemingly no one in town as well. We asked around for a recommendation to eat that evening and found what can be described only as a hidden jewel of a place in the harbor called Alloro Wine Bar and Restaurant.

For a wine guy like myself, I look for three things in a fine restaurant that says "Wine bar" on its sign or menu.

The number one issue to me is the selection of wine available to taste. Wine bars do not have to offer a wide selection of wines to taste or pour by the glass, but the pours must be meaningful to what the owners wish to present to the cuisine-conscious public. (Tasting is simply an ounce or so of juice and a "pour" is a substantial amount that not only looks good in a glass but looks and feels substantial to the purchaser of the "pour.") The selection of wine by the glass poured was excellent, as were the amounts poured by the glass.

The wine selection must also be meaningful to the type and design of the menu offered, in this case, northern Italian cuisine. The wine list at Alloro is very good and included many wines from the Tuscany and the Piemonte regions of Italy, as well as many Oregon Pinot Noir and the classics from California, Washington and France. With one or two selections that I would have added on the list in the "Italian Red" by the bottle, the wine list section offering was well thought out for the delightful menu offerings.

The second thing I look for in an upscale restaurant are the types of glasses used for tastings, as well as at the table. Alloro uses fine stemware with classic Claret or Burgundy shapes, again perfect with the needs of the wine list and cuisine.

Thirdly, the wait staff must be sharp, well versed in the wines and the wines must be presented properly and served at the correct temperature for immediate consumption. I chose a Barbera from Ugo Lequio with the rabbit I had ordered and the wine came slightly cool and the presentation was very good indeed. Tess asked for a sweeter Sauvignon Blanc from High Pass winery in Oregon and it was served cool to cold and was just lovely.

The menu from Alloro covers all the bases and is oozing with delightful haut Italian cuisine such as affettati antipasti (cold Italian meats), prosciutto e melone, and tonno in salsa, which was a local tuna served seared rare, very lovely. The list went on and on with every entree' served with quiet elegance and beautifully presented on the plate.

The restaurant is owned by a couple, Lian Schmidt and Jeremy Huck. Huck received his training in Tuscany and the simple elegance of the cuisine speaks volumes of what we find in Tuscany. It is tough to transport Tuscany to a small town on the Southern Oregon coast, but these folks have done more than an admirable job.

Bravi! For elegant huat cuisine from a Tuscan kitchen, look no further, it is worth a night on the coast.

See you next week!

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