Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Trip to the Coast: Lunch at the Columbian Cafe in Astoria and Cafe' 47 in Vernonia, Oregon

Dolly-girl rolled over, stretched, and yawned. A cat jumped off the bed and headed for the door. Old Mister was peeking through the window. A Saturday morning in the fall. "Jack, remember, we got a reservation over at the Coast for tonight. I figured with all the here-and-there you've been up to, another night out of Stumptown wouldn't make no never mind. I remembered. I moved my heater and looked at the clock. "Time to get rolling, Dolly-girl." I like the Coast.

The trip over took us through Astoria, a little 'burg with a big history. Indians, British explorers, trappers, Lewis and Clark. Well, it's a regular history lesson and not a bad place to set your brake provided you don't mind rain about 364 and a half days a year. But we just stopped to tie on the noon-time feedbag at a place me and Dolly-girl have darkened before--a joint called the Columbian Cafe. You can't beat the food and you don't have to worry about a crowd--the place doesn't hold but about 27 even if the stools at the counter are filled. They weren't. Missy was on us like flatware on a napkin. It didn't take us long to do the once over on the whaddaya-want. Dolly-girl settled on a crepe and a baby and I went for just about the strangest, but finest wax on a raft I've ever had. It was a far cry from a Jack Benny I'll tell you. I had them grill a rose and pin it on along with a side of Adam. The cowfeed was their idea. The pint was mine. A couple Jacksons left us full and Missy smiling. Bring cash.

Our spots were hit, but Missy tuned us into a place to get a cold one to settle the feed and put us on our way. We walked into the Fort George Brewery, settled into a couple of stools, and ordered what we'd come for. The brew was a tasty one and they'd put the barley, hops, malt, water, and yeast together right in the joint. Missy served it up in a jar which is not my idea of a beer glass, but you do know you're getting what you paid for compared to those "it's not a pint but it looks like one" glasses they use over in Stumptown.

We finished up, wiped the foam off our kissers, hopped in the roadster, and headed for the part of the Coast we'd come to see. It's hard to beat our part of the Pacific--the beaches are beautiful and empty. Of course, if it's dipping a toe you're after, you'd better be dressed like Mike Nelson 'cause the water's colder than a bad girl's heart. We spent the night in what I'd call a motor hotel, but Dolly-girl told me was a "quaint inn at the Coast" in a town called Gearhart. Not long after we checked in, a storm started blowing in so me and Dolly-girl did the Sunday morning on a Saturday afternoon--she was turning the pages of a new tell-me-a-story and I did a Rex Parker. We had a cocktail in our suite, then turned up our collars against the wind and rain and walked down the street to the local spot for a passable, but unremarkable (and unphotographed) end-of-the-eating day. Dolly-girl had them cuocere una pizza while I had fins and nails. Just OK and come to think of it, I don't even recall the name of the place. You can't miss it, and you won't when you leave.

The morning cracked like a free-range egg in a hot skillet--perfect. We took a walk on the beach, perambulated around the town, then packed up to take the back roads home. We meandered here and there in the Coast Range, through Jewel and Mist and Pittsburg and wound up in Vernonia, just in time to set the brake and see what Cafe' 47 was serving up for the noon whistle.

Cafe' (yep, that's the Vernonia version of an accent aigu) 47 is on the main street which is called Bridge Street, I suspect because it goes over a bridge even though it's the main street. Where I grew up Bridge Street went over a bridge, but it crossed Front Street, which was the main street even though Main Street was in a part of town where it never was and won't likely ever be the main street. Well, it doesn't really make any difference because it's damned near impossible to drive through Vernonia without passing Cafe' 47 regardless of the name of the street. There was one piece of continuity: Bridge Street, that's the main street, is Oregon Route 47. I think that's how Cafe' 47 got its name.

First thing that strikes you when you walk into Cafe' 47 is that someone, and maybe more than just one, really likes license plates. The things are all over the place and you have to believe there are some rare ones there. And if you don't believe it, they have a laminated sheet of paper on the table that tells you they're rare. I'll believe them. There're lots of other decorations, too. After being away and isolated at the Coast, me and Dolly-girl caught up on the news while we waited for Missy to stop by with the whaddayas which turned out to be just the whadda-want because they weren't hitting any sort of beverage spot--follow?

Missy brought the local Bull Run and gave us the low-down on what the place was known for. She told us a few things they didn't have. "Sunday." I guess that was an explanation. Maybe they were busy, maybe it was the end of the week. "Sunday."

I went for it and ordered the potage Murphy along with a Jack Benny on wheat. Dolly-girl went for Jack on wheat as well but slaw in the alley was singing her tune. Missy was back in a minute. "Sunday. Outta wheat. White, sourdough." "Make mine white," came out of my yapper. Before Dolly-girl could answer Missy said, "Yours is sourdough, honey. We only got enough white for one. Sunday." Her explanation.

We split and each ended up with a white and sourdough. The Jack's were what you'd expect and more. Lots of wax, and the raft was on the grill just long enough to give it the crunch and a little taste of the Adam and Eve the hash slinger must have been cooking in the morning. The soup was as good as it gets and I've had plenty where the gettin' was good. It would stand up to all comers. It's worth the trip to the place on the main street, Bridge Street, in Vernonia, Oregon.

Dolly-girl was treating and three Abes covered the damage with a thank-you-very-much for Missy. We headed out, happy as clams, hooked arms and walked down to where the roadster was curbed. Sunday.

No comments: