Back to our Oregon coast road trip! For those of you who have been following, we had started the road trip with amazing Scandinavian brunch at Broder, Portland, ice cream at Tillamook Creamery, and finally a lovely Italian meal at Little Italy, Coos Bay. Now, on day 2 of the road trip, we headed further south on our trip, in the quest for gorgeous scenery and some amazing local cuisine.
We headed south past Coos Bay on 101S and our first stop was at a grocery chain to pick up coffee at their in-store Starbucks. Armed with caffeine, we headed past some farmlands and low-lying coastal areas and headed towards Bandon. We had heard of cranberry bogs that flanked the sides of the highway in this part of the coast, but had the hardest time locating any. We eventually stopped and asked for directions to the bogs, and armed with more maps, sketches of right and left turns, we set off again, actually backtracking a little to make the bog sightings happen. Turns out, the bogs are really not that exciting this time of the year (Memorial day weekend) – overgrown with grass and barely even discernible as bogs!
Our mental images of cranberry plant lined bogs dashed, we silently made our way to Old Town Bandon: a remarkably cute stretch of a few blocks of shops and restaurants. At some point (yes, we should have documented where), we left 101S and headed down an alternate scenic route right by the coastline, passing Port Orford and heading further south to Humbug Mountain State Park. Amazing views – spectacular, sweeping coastal landscape, interspersed with the vegetation and elevation gain promised by the Humbug Mountain. Miles whipped past, as we admired the sheer magnificence of nature, passing bridge after spectacular and old school bridge over winding rivers opening into the bay.
Is there a point to all this, you’re wondering. Is there a restaurant involved somewhere here? Or did we fall through the worm hole into a parallel universe where the 101 project is not about 101 new restaurants to try in a year, but 101 new destinations to cover in a year (hm, interesting idea … maybe for 2013)?
Being awestruck saps you of energy. Appreciating all the beauty involves fast and coordinated jumping out of the car at vista points, rapid fire shutter-snappings in all possible permutations and combinations, and the customary, “I wish we had more time to just sit and relax”, all the while surreptitiously glancing at our watches to make sure we were making good enough time to leave some day light for us at the Redwood National Park (our destination for the day). We were good on time. We could reward ourselves with a quick lunch pitstop.
Brookings was the best place for lunch – we were going to pass through during lunch hour, it was about half way between our start and end points for the day, and there seemed to be several good options with solid reviews. We picked a place, punched in the right address and promptly got lost on the narrow roads that seemed to lead to nowhere really. As it turns out, we just thought we were lost, but had somehow miraculously followed the GPS to the back of a fairly industrial looking part of town.
We were about to miss Superfly. I don’t believe the proprietor puts much stock in signage. A tasteful and discrete declaration of the name on the door and that was it. Nothing to catch your eye unless you knew exactly where the place was (or unless you were good about following your GPS blindly, trusting faith that you will be led to the right spot, absence of signage notwithstanding). Superfly Distillery Co – Minors allowed. That was all that you needed to know. What are you waiting for? Come in already.
Once inside, I challenge you to want to leave. Colorful waves – that’s the first thing that comes to mind. Right in the middle of the central room is a horseshoe (or C-shaped) bar, with a light tan countertop atop a gossamer finish translucent, nay, almost iridescent, blue bar stand. In the comfort of the indoors, the shyness with signage magically evaporated, and you have a shiny, modern silver displace of “Superfly” sprawled lazily across the bar face – again the play on tan finish on the iridescent blue.
A wave hung above the bar – no, not a real wave, not a plastic cutout of a sea-wave. Rather, an iridescent blue metallic wave, an amoeboid frame from which hung 8 or so light fixtures, in a mottled theme of blue accented with some daring orange splotches. Two large TV screens flanked the bar on both sides. The playful vibe was so expertly complemented by the busy and friendly bar staff – you were made to feel at home and welcome, and that all your troubles could hang out at the door for a bit as you relaxed and recharged.
Superfly has a single page menu. It is, after all, a distillery – so I almost expected typical bar food fare. But those who deck up their bars in iridescent blue, and with amoeboid track lighting are wont to play mind games with you through their food offerings too. “Jaws” tacos, or grilled shark tacos right alongside grilled Korean street ribs! Steamed mussels and osso bucco! Duck dogs?? Duck dogs. Duck dogs! Wow this menu was definitely super fly …
I wish I could tell you I had the duck dogs. My friend ordered the chicken bacon taters without the bacon – warm tortilla wrapped around chicken, fries and slathered in their special chipotle sauce. My other friend was going to have the burger with fries – seemingly safe, but also seemed extremely satisfying and well executed from the sound of it on the menu. I was torn between the shark tacos and the duck dog. When time came to order, I asked the server for a recommendation between the shark taco and the duck dog, and went with the burger.
Yes, the burger. I wasn’t even aware that it was in the running, but life’s like that – sometimes it’s the little known side contender that wins the day. But all kidding aside, the burger came highly recommended, and what can I say, service with an iridescent smile will win my heart over every time. Burger it is.
As we waited for our food to come out, I focused on noticing the rest of the restaurant. The rest of the restaurant was set apart from the bar area a little – I am assuming this is where the minors are allowed – and boldly colored in a very bright red to contrast sharply with the cool metallic iridescence of the rest of the bar space. The red walls were accepted with splashes of playful yellow, and with two canopy-mimics of blue criss-crossing from one corner of the ceiling to another. A rather intimidatingly large TV hung on the opposite wall. Most of the tables were full, even though we had come for a pretty late lunch past 2pm.
Our wait was minimal and the food came out piping hot and fresh. The burger was indeed exceptionally well executed. Juicy, yet not overly messy. Fresh lettuce and tomatoes. Shoestring fries with just the right crunch on the outside and fluffy baked goodness on the inside. I’m not even a big burger fan.
The chicken bacon taters without the bacon also seemed like a big hit. The sauces were flavorful, the meat seemed well seasoned and cooked right, and the presentation was casual but deliberate.
The molten lava cake with the vanilla ice cream was also remarkably well executed – perfect molten lava inside the cake, which was moist and just dense enough to pair perfectly well with the delicate vanilla ice cream. Not one of the most adventurous desserts I have sampled, for sure, but I still remember the luscious indulgent bite(s)!
The best part of the meal may have been the exceptional friendliness of our server. He conversed, but did not overwhelm. He seemed like he was having a great time, juggling his commitments at the bar, but also making sure he was checking in on us often enough to make sure if we needed anything, he was around. It almost felt like being at a friend’s backyard bbq and being cared for by the host: busy, but always glad to share in on the fun.
Superfly is my iridescent gem of the entire Oregon coast trip – a colorful, happy swatch of paradise, where you can kick back and relax, indulge your senses in the bold and the daring or the comfort of the tried and tested and familiar, and catch up with what’s truly important: the people in your lives.