Story & photos by Patrick Alexander
Oregon Coast TODAY
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
But don’t start jingle belling and mistletoeing just yet; the season that Ethan Granberg and Danelle Lochrie are looking forward to isn’t the yuletide one — but rather summer on the Oregon Coast.
The onset of warmer weather means the Hearth & Table co-owners can turn their attention away from transforming winter roots and tubers into culinary masterpieces and start letting the summer bounty talk for itself — like Oregon strawberries.
“They are local, they are delicious, they are first of the season, they are beautiful — so you don’t have to do much to it,” Ethan said. “During the winter, you have to find ways to make the food exciting. In the summer, all you have to do is not screw it up.”
And, for Ethan and Danelle, the epicenter of the coast’s summer food scene is the small but perfectly formed farmers market in the tiny town of Neskowin, just north of Lincoln City.
Ethan has long been a familiar face at the market, where he manned the booth for the couple’s previous enterprise, the Rockfish Bakery, each summer for many years while Danelle held down the fort at the store. The couple had to skip last season at the market amid the hubbub of setting of up the new restaurant but they are thrilled to be back this year and even happier that this time they get to staff the booth together.
As one of just 12 booths at the market, the Hearth & Table crew will be serving up a familiar selection of breads and pastries but also — new this year — hot items including a black bean bowl made with Oregon-grown black beans and a range of breakfast sandwiches cooked on a griddle, using house-made bacon and sausage.
“We want to make sure that the majority of our products are local because it is a local scene,” Ethan said.
But, far more than a place to sell their products, Ethan and Danelle view the market as a vital component of their menu planning each week.
“It is our menu planning,” Danelle said.
Arriving early each Saturday, the couple peruse the stalls for items to build the week’s dishes around — fresh greens for salads and kale for pizza toppings early in the season and, later, Oregon blueberries for use in everything from baked goods to syrups and dressings.
Regular visits to the Lincoln City Farmers Market and the Harvest Market in Gleneden Beach help the culinary duo keep the menu changing from day to day as does an arrangement where the staff at Barnacle Bill’s give Ethan a heads up when fishermen are coming in with a fresh catch.
“Portland is hungry for Oregon fish, so much is going to wholesalers,” he said. “It’s something that we are really excited about. It’s so easy for us to just buy a couple of gorgeous fish.”
Barnacle Bill’s is also the source of the line-caught Oregon albacore that stars in Hearth & Table’s tuna salad sandwich — a mainstay of the restaurant’s dynamic menu.
Elsewhere on the menu, the kitchen team offers a range of what Ethan describes as “classic Americana comfort food,” the sort of dishes that rekindle childhood memories — but often served with a twist.
Whether it’s organic chicken in the fried chicken plates, the house-smoked bacon in the BLT or the oyster sandwich that comes with spicy cream corn sauce, the team pride themselves on serving up simple dishes made with the highest quality, local ingredients.
“Our food is not too complex,” Ethan said, “but if you do it right it’s something that’s really fantastic.”
For drinks, the range of homemade sodas and ginger beer is now joined by tangy draft offerings from Humm Kombucha of Bend.
Guests seeking something stronger will find it on the ever-changing list of draft beers, which includes hard-to-find gems like the Sticky Hands IPA, the Hop Experience Ale from Block 15 Brewery in Covallis.
The list has also been built to allow beer fans to compare Pacific Northwest brews with their traditional counterparts from overseas — such as a Hefeweizen from Corvallis offered alongside an imported Hefeweizen from Bavaria.
The restaurant has always offered growler fills for patrons who want to take beer for the road, but a pending to-go license means guests will also be able to pair their gourmet pizza with a six pack, or a bottle of wine if they prefer.
Hearth & Table is located at 660 SE Hwy. 101, across from City Hall. It is open from 11 am to 9 pm from Tuesday to Saturday. Call them at 541-614-0966 or go to www.hearthandtablekitchen.com.