First Impressions, by Hungry Soul
A little over a year ago, the Crescent Cafe opened to many oo’s and aah’s. Owners, Michael McKenney and Danny Wilser had moved to Yamhill County to “retire” and it seems got bored. They formerly owned and operated Ella’s Restaurant in San Francisco, a much loved neighborhood spot. The Crescent Cafe is a step up from the other breakfast offerings in McMinnville, a little more formal, but still a comfortable start to a day of wine tasting. A year later, the morning lines are not as long, but the place is still hopping.
The wait staff all wears white shirts and black pants, you are presented a menu and told the specials immediately upon sitting down. The place has a comfortable, if not slightly aseptic feel to it. I find the lighting to be a bit dim, especially on a dark winter morning, but it doesn’t seem to bother anyone else. I am not a huge fan of their seating policy which is if you are alone, and it is busy, you many end up sharing the table. This is fine if you like to meet your neighbors and chat first thing, but not if you want to wallow in your oatmeal. One morning, there was no music playing, and on another, the strangest combination of late 80’s feel good tunes were heard. These songs are played in earnest and give the place an unusually retro feel that doesn’t fit with the décor at all. Service is quite attentive, at times overly so. Sometimes I just want to eat my breakfast. I don’t want to chat with everyone – but I suppose in a small town, this is the norm.
Food is thoughtfully prepared with local ingredients. Danny bakes all the bread and biscuits fresh. My favorite is the golden raisin oatmeal toast – so good with melted butter – you can buy it by the loaf to take home. Their biscuits are also quite tasty – light and fluffy. There is usually a coffee cake special each morning. I have had the raspberry coffee cake and it was remarkable because it actually tasted like raspberries, not overly sweet red things stuck in too batter. The buttermilk pancakes are pretty darn good. Lately, the chefs have been adding caramelized bananas to the batter which are then cooked into the pancakes. Let me just say, these cakes need no syrup. The caramelized bananas give it enough sweetness and flavor that adding syrup would be overkill. All the meat is sourced locally, and Danny makes his own sausage patties. These have been among the least successful items on the menu – sometimes they need more salt, others they are too salty. The bacon however is always cooked to perfection (provided you like it a little crispy like me). Each morning there is a special omelet. I have learned to order these – they are hearty and full of fresh ingredients. Crescent Cafe offers either hash browns or country potatoes with their breakfasts. I have been getting the country potatoes, which I find to be lackluster. They are too soggy. Country potatoes should have a crisp exterior and even be a tiny bit burnt on the ends. Hash browns just seem too easy to me: not a real test of a chef’s breakfast potato chops. Last time I was there, I had the hash browns, and they were fine.
A while ago, the restaurant started staying open for lunch too. The few times I have been, I have had solid serviceable sandwiches, some of which are real stand outs. A BLT with avocados on whole wheat was good. Nothing fancy. A warm chicken breast sandwich with caramelized onions and mayo hit the comfort food button for me. I lapped it up. At lunch they offer a variety of non-traditional sides to accompany your sandwich, which I like. Accompanying my chicken sandwich was roasted cauliflower with balsamic caramelized onions and olives. A nice alternative to the standard fries or salad.
I have heard from some people that Crescent Cafe is not a good place to bring kids. The reports have been that the staff is not terribly tolerant of the crying infant, or the two-year-old who won’t sit still. I personally have not seen this. However, the vibe here is certainly for a more mature crowd, who likes a good breakfast that is served with a healthy amount of respect. The prices may also be a predetermining factor. Breakfast for two with one juice and one coffee ran me $19.50 without tip. The portions are reasonable, but for people who want the huge hung-over side of greasy potatoes, this is not the place to go. But if you are gearing up for a day drinking wine, this is a fine place to line your stomach with grub to decelerate the absorption of alcohol.
- Phone: (503) 435-2655
- Address: 526 NE Third St, McMinnville, OR. 97128
- Hours: Wed-Fri 7am-12pm, Sat-Sun 8am-12pm