Columbia Gorge Hotel

by Louis & Annette Bignami

Like Yosemite National Park's Awhanhee Hotel, the magnificent setting and gorgeous old building overlooking the darting wind surfers in the Columbia River Gorge overwhelms solid resort food. Few hotel restaurants feature their own creek and waterfall. No other in Oregon offers such a river view, and the building is magnificent. The restaurant's been voted "the best in Oregon" many times. They'll pick you up at nearby Dalles Airport if you can't spare the hour's drive from Portland.

Last visit we began with a tableside presentation of wilted spinach salad that added smoked duck to the usual bacon before the mustard and brandy sauce flamed out. The result seemed a bit greasy, but we eat more game that domestic meats so have a very limited tolerance to fat.

Dinner entrees fared better. My wife's rack of lamb presented itself as two double chops with a succulent stock reduction and truffle sauce. A layered potato cake and crisp vegetables complimented her dish.

My own venison "fillet" ran to two double thick chops, just a bit past properly medium-rare, with a most delicious sauce of a meat reduction with a hint of chocolate and some raspberries. All accompanied by new potatoes and vegetable. Rather more sauce than usual excused an extra dinner roll used to mop up every last bit.

Dinner finished with an apple tart for two topped with puff pastry flambéed at the table with orange liquor, split and presented with a small scoop of French vanilla ice cream. This last gained full marks.

The Columbia Gorge's Sunday Brunch may offer one of the best values in the Northwest. Seven massive courses follow each the other with Scottish Oatmeal, wonderful sausages and smoked pork chops and eggs and pancakes and fruit and...

4000 Westcliff,
Hood River, OR/800.345.0921