About 40 minutes outside of Portland, Oregon, in the heart of the state’s wine region, The Allison Inn and Spa is situated on straight-out-of-a-painting landscaped grounds in Newberg. I visited this property last May and fell in love with every detail: the plush bed, the filtered water in glass jars, the impossibly deep bathtub in my room, and the warm earth tones throughout the hotel made the entire place feel soothing. The running water outside of the spa, and the floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the building made me feel at peace with the lush scenery surrounding me. What's more is that the Allison’s impressive dining program somehow manages to bring diners closer to nature.
The 1.5 acre on-site garden and greenhouse is where many of the ingredients on the menu at the Inn’s signature restaurant, Jory, come from. And the restaurant is beyond impressive. I truly enjoyed everything I ate during my stay at the Allison. From local cuisine to an emphasis on wine, no detail is too small for The Allison’s dining team.
Emphasis on Garden to Table Cuisine
“There’s nothing I love more than heading out into the community and working with our local purveyors to find the best locally grown food in the region,” Executive Chef Sunny Jin says. And it’s hard not to fall in love with the Allison’s lush and green scenery. “I found myself many times driving in the car around our valley and simply saying internally, 'I love my life'. On a daily level, just checking in with our local farmers, purveyors, and artisans of their craft is something I take with certain responsibility. It's an amazing opportunity to be a part of something bigger than any one of us. To take part in the growth and sustaining development of such an inspiring region makes me proud to call this valley home.”
If you happen to be staying at The Allison for a few days, don’t worry that you’ll get bored with the dining experiences. For starters, the Inn offers a variety of memorable dining experiences at Jory. Dine alfresco on the patio when the weather’s nice. Order and enjoy your food in your room. I phoned in (room service is a must-try) a tasty crab Benedict and enjoyed it outside on my room’s balcony while I visited. Eat inside the dining room for a casual, elegant experience. Keep it very casual with a meal at the open kitchen, where you can watch the chefs prepare food over an open fire while you eat. If you’re just looking to day trip it to The Allison, you also can enjoy some of its award-winning cuisine at its gorgeous spa. I indulged in a fresh and light smoothie before digging into smoked salmon while I lounged outside in the comforting glow of the sunshine after a spa treatment. From local cuisine to an emphasis on wine, no detail is too small for The Allison’s dining team.
And if you really want to go all out, The Allison’s Chef’s Table is where you should do it. Jin will prepare a private meal for your party. While visiting, I enjoyed an amazing seven-course meal complete with wine pairings. While each course was impressive, two specific entrees are still on my mind: the chilled English pea soup, and the pan-seared Halibut. The bright green soup was rich and extra texture-rich—made possible by the inclusion of coddled hen egg, lardo, local Carlton Bakery brioche and garden herbs. The smooth halibut (a must-try in the Pacific Northwest) was accented well with black rice, smoked cashews, shiitakes, mizuna and yuzu emulsion.
Devotion to Wine
Given its location in wine country, it’s no surprise that The Allison is dedicated to showcasing the area’s world-class Pinot Noirs. “We do not use any Pinot that I would not personally have on my table,” says Jin. Wine is literally infused into certain dishes on the menu. Even if you’re not a wine fan, be sure to stop by just to have the Pinot Burger. This tender and juicy dish—topped with charred onions, house-smoked bacon, aioli, Rogue Creamery blue cheese and served with hand-cut fries—is one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. And let’s face it: how often in your life can you really try one? Accompany that with a Pinot from the Willamette Valley—the wine menu is more than 30 pages long, so you’re bound to find something you love. And lastly, finish it off with the Pinot cake. This oozing chocolate concoction is the ultimate decadent treat, but not too sweet thanks to the wine. The signature burger is yet another example of how The Allison works to showcase the local area’s culinary contributions.
“The menu at JORY reflects a cumulative philosophy between food, wine and responsibility to serve wine country cuisine. It is our ambition to remain influenced by our community purveyors, the surrounding wine region and the changing seasons,” says Jin. “This promise is extended to our guests who experience JORY and, in turn, are able to connect with our story.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ll raise a glass of Pinot (from the Willamette Valley, of course) to that.
Teresa K. Tobat is a writer and editor based out the Washington, D.C. area. View her website at teresaktobat.com. Follow her tweets @ttobat88.