Dining at The Joel Palmer House was amongst the highlights of my trip to Oregon. On the first day of my trip I visited a couple of wineries, Yamhill Valley Vineyards amongst them. It was there that I met Woody. He's the Tasting Room Manager, and, as I would come to learn later, all around man about town.
Yamhill Valley Vineyards has some very nice wines. Their reserve Pinot Noir and Pinot Blancs were my favorites. They have the sort of wines and tasting room that you want to hang around and savor. Woody is a part of that too. He's as engaging a person as you're bound to find in a tasting room. After talking for awhile he recommended some other wineries and a few restaurants I might like to try. He named The Joel Palmer House as his favorite Wine Country restaurant.
As it happened I ended up having dinner at The Joel Palmer House with Woody. He brought some tremendous wines along for us to enjoy. That they were able to compete with the food and ambiance is a credit to his willingness to dig deep into the his cellar.
The restaurant has several dining rooms spread through a historic house they restored to create this restaurant. The decor is elegant and charming.
Mushrooms are a huge part of the menu at The Joel Palmer Hosue. Owners Jack & Heidi Czarnecki collect the mushrooms themselves. You are bound to find mushrooms in just about any dish on their menu. Considering how well Pinot Noir does in Oregon and that it pairs incredibly with mushrooms this is a boon for diners.
Everything I consumed at The Joel Palmer House was delicious and clearly prepared with great care. A Tenderloin of Pork I had was accompanied by a confit of apples, dried cherries, mushrooms, onions and a Port sauce. I spent a week in Oregon and had several very good dishes, this was easily the best.
As I made my way around Willamette Valley last week I began to suspect that everyone in town knew Woody. His name came up in tasting rooms and restaurants all over the valley. So it shouldn't have been a surprise that he was greeted enthusiastically the moment we walked in to The Joel Palmer House. The reception he received was loud and genuine. Visiting dignitaries should wish to be treated with such fanfare.
I'm sure everyone receives great service as this restaurant, it just seems like that kind of place. But I'm pretty sure that since I was dining with Woody I was afforded an extra special level of service. Meeting Jack, Heidi, Chris & Shaun, the mainstays of the staff, it was clear what effort they put into providing a great meal and overall experience for their diners.
Dining with Woody was a pleasure I am sure to repeat on future trips to Willamette Valley. In addition to his wine knowledge, he spent decades in the music business and is a treasure trove of information and stories about it as well.
It's easy to see why The Joel Palmer House is Woody's favorite Wine Country restaurant. Everything about it is top notch. I only spent a week in Oregon, but I know when I go back, there is one restaurant I will definitely dine at again.