I’ve been waiting to tell this story for years, starting in the late ’90s, when I was new to Yamhill Valley and noted the area’s glaring lack of decent dining options. Only a handful of bright spots, like Golden Valley Brewery and Restaurant, kept the area from earning the hermit-kingdom-of-cuisine label.
Back then, the local food scene was sparse. I immediately embraced Golden Valley; my wife and I visited regularly, getting to know the brewpub’s staff and meeting co-owner Peter Kircher. We felt comfortable, well-served and always satisfied. Over the years, we watched Peter expand and refine his brewpub into the respected dinner house it is today, even adding a second location in Beaverton.
The restaurant’s evolution parallels the Valley’s gourmet growth — if Nick’s Italian Cafe represented the seed that grew into the area’s dining renaissance, Golden Valley was the fertilizer that made it flourish. Even better, it accentuates the farm-to-fork movement with its own Angus Springs Ranch premium meats and organic produce. Best of all, Golden Valley embraces the remarkably robust sense of community characterizing this area.
You might say the idea for Golden Valley was born from a youthful whim. Peter and a college friend set out for Wales, where they fully intended to open a pub. Despite considerable planning, the business didn’t work out, but his buddy, a native Welshman, introduced Peter to a young woman named Celia Linfoot, a friend of the family. Peter spent the next 14 years in Alaska, working on a commercial fishing boat; Celia eventually joined him when she finished serving as a nanny in British Columbia. The couple tied the knot in 1983 and moved to Oregon four years later.
First planting a small vineyard, the Kirchers left their options open. “My dad wanted to open a brewery with a small pub,” said Alex Kircher, Peter and Celia’s middle son. “But eventually that shifted to a small brewery with a big pub.”
Raised in the family business, Alex is exceptional as manager of Golden Valley’s Beaverton location. He says good food is in his family’s blood — his paternal grandmother was an outstanding cook, accomplished at hosting dignified dinner parties for wealthy clients of her oil-components-exporter husband.
“My dad grew up with a knowledge of proper dining,” Alex said. “And my mom’s an excellent cook in her own right.” Combine those skills with a commitment to superior natural beef and organic produce from the family ranch and you realize Golden Valley’s menu is well-crafted and artful.
Already a fan of the menu, I sat down with Alex to sample some of Golden Valley’s popular offerings, all paired with house pints. “Many of our original brew recipes were created by John Harris, the godfather of Oregon beer,” said Alex.
Golden Valley produces a lineup of regular and seasonal brews, a list as expansive as it is relevant to Oregon’s bounty. “Our brewmaster, Jesse Shue, is a skilled hand at maintaining our high brewing standards,” Alex said.
If you appreciate a good steak, it’s practically a requirement to order the ribeye. Cut with just enough fat to ensure perfect tenderness and maximum flavor, the cut of meat— accompanied by Dundee Porter — is cooked to order and served with a choice of potato and vegetable.
If you enjoy chicken pot pie, you’ll love Golden Valley’s version — roasted chicken combined with thyme veloute, carrots, celery, mushrooms and zucchini — paired with Red Thistle Ale. Even if you usually wouldn’t order the classic dish, you’ll love Golden Valley’s version — it’s that good.
While we’re on the subject of ordering outside your predictable zone, Golden Valley’s Cobb salad — matched with Geist Bock — is among the best I’ve tasted. This hearty salad is so heaped with pepper bacon, smoked turkey and blue cheese that “salad” might seem disingenuous. You can’t possibly order the Cobb and leave hungry. The entire menu is populated by well-executed dishes like these, including several contenders for best burger in the county and Celia’s family recipe for fruit cobblers.
In McMinnville, Golden Valley is a key component of the area’s notoriety among foodies and beer lovers. More than any other restaurant, Golden Valley Brew Pub embodies the Yamhill Valley beer and culinary experience. •