France is known as a culinary powerhouse. So what would draw a French chef to make his home in Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory?
The answer is just about everything, according to chef Pascal Chureau, who has chosen to make his home in the United States for the past 30 years. Most of those have been here in Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory where he has three thriving businesses with his business partner Ian Ragsdale: Allium Bistro and Lark Cafe, both in downtown West Linn, and Field and Vine Events, which puts on the famous Dinners in the Field.
"From ver jus to strawberries, wine from Pete's Mountain about five minutes up here, from the local farms in West Linn and Oregon City, all of Clackamas County, there's so much. Almost too much," he added with a laugh.
There's no shortage of options to choose from when sourcing not just ingredients, but locations for the farm dinners. And Chureau relishes (food pun!) being able to almost let the amazing ingredients that he sources from the farms near his restaurants choose the menu for him.
"We work with some farmers as partners for the Field and Vine events. I get there early a week before, I learn the field. I'm like 'Oh my gosh, amazing blueberry, I'm going to do a blueberry short cake or amazing free-range chicken, confit chicken is going to be on the menu as an appetizer next week."
As popular as the Dinner in the Field series is, they wouldn't have happened without the success of Allium Bistro. It's a gorgeous restaurant with a prime location in historic downtown West Linn. As amazing a fixture as the restaurant is, it was Chureau's focus on local ingredients early on that lead to the restaurant's success, and the expansion from one restaurant to three thriving businesses.
"We embraced that farm to table philosophy with the restaurant. I fell in the love with the local farms and local wineries. I realized there was no point in going anywhere else, you can get what you want here."
Inspired by the French bistros of his home country, Allium's menu features dishes comprised of fresh, local ingredients combined to create something somehow both refined and rustic. You can see the inspiration from his European roots with dishes like the morel mushroom risotto and seafood paella, while his adopted home's influences abound in the Cascade natural hamburger or grilled ribeye or chicken fried steak. And of course each dish can be perfectly matched with a local wine hand-chosen to compliment your meal.
Lark is a wonderful take on the neighborhood cafe. A great selection of coffee drinks and delicious breakfast items help you start your day, while savory soup or salad options help you get past the mid-day blues. There's also a generous selection of sandwich options, and the welcoming atmosphere make it the ideal spot for a one-on-one lunch meeting.
The next time you're in West Linn, be sure to stop by Allium Bistro or Lark Cafe. It will be a truly wonderful dining experience, I promise you that. And be sure to go to (at least) one of the Dinner's in the Field. That will be an evening to remember.
Make a reservation at Allium Bistro