Chef Richard Balajadia’s food presentation can be dazzling—in his hands, green apples become swans and ahi tuna piles atop rice and vegetables to create gravity-defying sculptures—but he relies on seasonal ingredients to ensure that the dishes taste as good as they look. If organic arugula and free-range chicken don't sound like standard sports-bar fare, that’s precisely the intention. Lifelong friends and owners Michael Hoover, Todd Bardwell, and Bill Hutchins told the Register-Guard that they hired Balajadia because they wanted a menu that would appeal to their own "foodie tastes." Accordingly, even the bar’s burgers transcend their simplistic origins with jalapeño barbecue sauce, grilled portobellos, or house teriyaki sauce.
Even the bar’s drink menu rotates seasonally, with specialty cocktails that change to incorporate fresh summer fruits or entice tipplers with autumnal spices. The mixologists create their medleys of rosemary-infused Gentleman Jack whiskey, silver-agave tequila, and guava nectar at a bar where flat-screen televisions keep the atmosphere lively by showing Ducks’ games instead of documentaries about watching paint dry. The patio's red and yellow triangular shade sails for sunny days, and outdoor heaters fire up on chilly ones. DJ Reddfox transforms the vibe by spinning live on Saturday nights.
Axe & Fiddle combines local and regional libations with a straightforward menu of scrumptious pub fare within the inviting and historic Burkholder Woods Building. Chow down on multifaceted spuds with crinkle-cut chips and french-onion dip ($3.50) or garlic cheesy fries ($5) with a side of hollandaise sauce. The organic green salad sends pesticides packing with an extradition notice shaped out of carrots, cabbage, and green onions ($5). Venture across meaty plains with a quarter-pound burger crafted from Knee Deep 100% free-range and grass-fed beef bedecked in condiments, and paired with homefries ($8.50). Beans and greens—slathered in queso fresco, veggies, and served with corn tortillas ($6.50)—sit side by side in a copacetic show of mutual appreciation for each other’s craft.
The staff at The Peacock Bar & Grill whips up classic American pub fare in a convivial atmosphere that has served Corvallis since 1929. Half-pound hamburgers sizzle in more than 15 gourmet varieties, and fresh steak and seafood entrees round out a menu of traditional American fare. Late-night food specials please the after-hours crowd, and catering services lavish special events and get-togethers with mouthwatering morsels. A pool table, video-game machines, flat-screen TVs, and a full bar add to the air of revelry at the tavern that, like the ham radio, has kept mouths busy for more than 80 years. The Peacock Bar & Grill struts its plumage and ability to entertain with nightly events and specials including sports games, karaoke, and live DJs.
The accolades accorded several of LaVelle Vineyards' wines in the pages of Wine Enthusiast magazine serves as evidence of the diligent work of founder Doug LaVelle and his son, Matthew, who tends the vines today. After taking over the winery—then one of the oldest in Southern Willamette Valley—in 1994, Doug took it upon himself to make a number of improvements to its antiquated technology and distribution network. He started the wine club in 1995, and just recently opened a brand new wine bar and tap room off of International Way in Springfield called the LaVelle Tap Room. The tap room serves as an in-town location for wine club members, but also to provide a new wine-bar-meets-tap-room experience with more than 30 wines to choose from and several local beers on tap.
Doug's investments paid off. Today, with Matthew as lead winemaker, the winery ferments grapes both from its original Willamette Valley location and another site in the Columbia Valley in eastern Washington. At the rustic Elmira winery, visitors can recline on the sunny deck, tour the winemaking facilities, or outsmart tipsy minotaurs in the garden's labyrinth.
Sweet Cheeks Winery, composed of a 65-acre estate vineyard and 140 acres of sloping hills, churns out pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, and riesling. The Executive Wine Tasting gives guests the chance to fill their face pouches with up to 14 flights of Sweet Cheeks' full lineup, including all exclusive bottles not released to the general public. Like a blazing barrel of apples, the 2009 Reserve Pinot Gris smells of fruit and has a hint of smoke, while the 2009 Vintage Riesling gives off subtle undertones of honeysuckle paired with the sweet flavors of apricot and peach. The 2009 Rosy Cheeks is a cuvee of tempranillo, pinot noir, and pinot gris, all blended and fermented together until they sprout a beautiful bouquet of strawberries and tickle the tongue with flavory tingles. A cheese board of Oregon artisan cheeses, maple-herb roasted nuts, and crackers is provided to complement Sweet Cheeks' wine; guests may also bring their own picnic basket of goodies and iPods to complete the experience. Sample fine wines from the 7,000 sq. ft. patio that overlooks the vineyard and the gentle, sloping hillside leading down into Briggs Hill Valley.