I love Yachats. Spring breaks in elementary school were spent at the Yachats Inn back when it was still a motel, swimming in the heated in-door pool, hiking around Cape Perpetua, and watching the sunset over the rocky coastline. Later, cute, hippie cafes and shops were established, beckoning our family to linger in Yachats for coffee and astrology readings.
When I planned my March coast trip (which started with an unexpected stopover at Spirit Mountain Casino), I was bound and determined to get back to the sweet hamlet of my childhood. Unfortunately, by the time I got to Yachats the sun was already setting, and I realized I had no clue where to eat dinner as an adult. Mainly, I was incredibly bummed that my beautifully appointed hotel housed a full serivce spa but offered no food whatsoever. My dream of sinking into my bed to watch the sun drop into the ocean while someone quietly brought me room service (I imagined it would be a sauteed white fish with rice) was not going to materialize. And, so I began my ritual hunt.
Yachats is primarily situated lengthwise along 101 with the center of town criss-crossed by sharp angled streets hitting the highway. Almost as soon as you realize you are in the center of town, you are already hitting the deep curve that takes you across the river and out of town. All this makes for very difficult dinner cruising. Especially if you have low blood sugar and just finished conducting a seven hour compliance visit. However, after a number of death-defying u-turns, I scored a parking place in front of the Drift Inn and crossed my fingers.
The ambiance invites you to share dessert with friends of all generations. The singer-songwriter on stage looks like a family friend, the one who got up early when you were camping to start the stove and get everyone coffee. The patrons glow with wholesomeness.
And, there is a voluptuous mermaid and her coven of wise merwomen reprinted everywhere imaginable: on the wall, on tags for the homemade sauces, on the menu. She seems to have just emerged from the tide pools to find her mermaid daughter being lovingly groomed by the Grand Crone Mermaid. This scene is undoubtedly supposed to say something empowering about the feminine power of the ocean or somesuch, but I could’t help thinking the scene came across a little more like a nautical brothel moment featuring a grey-haired, half-fish madam. I chided myself for entertaining such un-wholesome thoughts, and turned to the menu.
While I had been dreaming of gently sauteed or grilled fish, price dictated something fried. I opted for oysters. They come with grilled polenta and vegetables, which sounded reasonably healthy. While I waited for the plate to arrive, I watched the woman in the booth in front of me enthusiastically cheer on the songster. She appeared to know all his songs without appearing to be his friend. I found this curious in such a small town. The songs themselves pondered father-son relations, husband-wife relations, other family members and other family members relations and there were some musings about the forest and nuclear fall-out in there too.
After a song or two, the oysters with polenta and vegetables arrived. Visually, it was not the most impressive. Everything was soggy and seemed to be melting into each other. But the oysters were passable, and I enjoyed the polenta more than I expected. It has a satisfying texture, which made me feel like, yes, I am EATING. However, the real treat was the lemon custard pie I took back to the hotel room to enjoy to the sound of the ocean. The weight of the slice was impressive, the crust thick and flakey, the lemon custard powerful and dense.
Overall, the service was very pleasant and prompt. The food was decent but nothing to scream about. But, I did like the feeling of being transported back to the warm, safe place I remembered from childhood. A place where everyone seems to care for their brother, sister, mother, father, friend, grandmother mermaid, forest, nuclear waste site. And, that was nice. I just wish I was as innocent as I had been at that time too.