February 7th, 2020

Tiny Travels: For Valentine’s Day, Romance is on the Menu in McMinnville

When chef Jesse Kinchloe wants to show some love to his wife and business partner, Erica, he knows just what is on the menu: hand-rolled gnocchi. They know more than a little something about romance and food, being the visionaries behind Valley Commissary, one of Willamette Valley’s must-visit restaurants.

“The ingredients or “stars” of a dish make it romantic,” Jesse said. “But far more important these days is having a dinner focused around your loved one’s wants and desires is way more romantic and endearing.”

Yes, the way to someone’s heart might be through the stomach, but these days, simply focusing on what your beloved desires best could be the most amorous choice, whether that’s the adoration of a specific specialty ingredient — oysters, anyone? — the most invitingly intimate setting, or the vision of a distinctive voice in the food community.   

Perhaps a french macaron from Valley Commissary is the key to your love’s heart.

Who’s having a special Valentine’s Day menu in and around McMinnville?

The Joel Palmer House in Dayton is having what might be a BUCKET LIST four-course, truffle-themed dinner to coincide with the Oregon Truffle Festival

Bistro Maison is running its three-course prix fixe menu of French classics and other items to be enjoyed à deux.

Red Hills Kitchen has the coziest booth — it fits just two! — along with elevated dishes featuring PNW food stars and a bucket of gluten-free donuts to share.

La Rambla has the town’s favorite two-person dish, a paella of shrimp, clams, mussels, chicken, Spanish and house chorizo, pork shoulder, green peas, piquillo peppers, caramelized onion, saffron, and tomato. 

The Barberry presents a panoply of Pacific Northwest-inspired ingredients making starring turns, like oysters, salmon, Dungeness crab, diver scallops, black cod, and lamb. 

Thistle, home to one of the Pacific Northwest’s most-admired cocktail bars, always has extraordinary, ingredient-forward dishes like garlic soup with duck egg and truffle.

Cuvée in Carlton is always a good choice for an intimate dinner, and has a chef who loves to accommodate menu restrictions.

Pura Vida is the choice if you want the sexy factor of eating with your hands (if you get the legendary tacos) and the unforgettable punchiness of South American flavors.

The Diner is a sweet option for upscale comfort food. 

Here are some other ways to serve your beloved in McMinnville this Valentine’s Day:

Spread the love, but remember the napkins!

 Emily Grosvenor is the voice behind Tiny Travels and the Editor of Oregon Home magazine. Follow her on Instagram @emilygrosvenor.