Story & photos by Patrick Alexander
Oregon Coast TODAY
Delicious meals and a cozy atmosphere have long been the hallmarks of Neskowin’s Café on Hawk Creek. Owners Genie and Frank Ullrich are dedicated to maintaining both as the café undergoes a menu revamp from new chef Ged Aydelott along with a pending remodel.
“We want to keep the same flavor, the same feel,” Genie Ullrich said, adding: “We need that warm feeling and yet we want to capitalize on the outdoors as well.”
The planned remodel will allow for more indoor seating as well as expanding the café’s deck and seeing the installation of a 20-foot concertina window overlooking Hawk Creek.
“It will be like you are outside on those nice days,” Ullrich said.
A three-sided fireplace will keep the café snug in the evenings, with the firelight playing off lustrous wooden tables, lovingly hand-crafted by Frank.
Those artisan tables will serve as the perfect backdrop for the culinary creations of chef Ged Aydelott, who recently joined the café after 11 years at the bustling Pelican Pub & Brewery in nearby Pacific City.
“I wanted a life change,” Aydelott said. “I’ve always kind of admired this place from afar — a cool café in a cool little spot. It’s a new adventure.”
Ullrich said that in addition to his kitchen management skills, Aydelott brings a wealth of experience in menu creation.
“Our guests that come in notice” she said, “and they rave about his dishes.”
Aydelott has already made his mark on the café’s menu, bringing on dishes such as alder-planked king salmon with a blackberry wine reduction; and shrimp and polenta, sautéed with tomato and bacon.
During his years with the Pelican, Aydelott racked up unmatched success at the Lincoln City Culinary Center cook-offs, at one point racking up a clean sweep of all four contests — fish taco, jambalaya, wild mushroom and, of course, chowder.
And Aydelott has brought his chowder philosophy to the Café on Hawk Creek, revamping the house recipe with a little award-winning flair.
“For me, a good chowder is something that’s simple,” he said. “You want to highlight the clams and that sweet clam flavor. It has to be nice and creamy and kind of comfort food.”
Seasonal ingredients are key to Aydelott’s menu, which currently showcases local Dungeness crab served whole or by the half. For winter vegetables, Aydelott favors Brussels sprouts and butternut squash, roasted to perfection in the café’s wood-fired pizza oven.
“Anything you cook in that just picks up this wonderful wood flavor,” he said.
When not roasting veggies, the oven still turns out pizzas with a slightly-thicker-than-normal crust, which local tradition dictates is then eaten with honey for dessert.
Meanwhile the café’s extensive wine list features labels from the Pacific Northwest, California, New Zealand and Australia, with something to suit every pocket book, from everyday to fine wines for special occasions.
Beer fans can choose from a large selection of craft beers. And if choosing just one proves impossible, the café offers a flight of four 4-ounce glasses for $10.
The newest addition to the bar, though, is a full liquor license, allowing guests to enjoy cocktails ranging from the traditional martini or mimosa to the formidable Basil Hayden’s Last Stand, crafted with bourbon, Grand Marnier and iced tea and finished with lemon peel.
Being a place for people to gather from breakfast right through to a late-night cocktail is important to Ullrich, who said the café has received overwhelming support from the Neskowin community.
“We have people that have been coming here for generations to family beach homes,” she said. “Now the grandchildren and great grandchildren are coming in to the café and remembering it from their childhoods.”
“We just want to give our guests a good dining experience when they come in — atmosphere, service and quality of food,” she added. “If we can do that then people will leave happy. That’s our intent.”
The Café on Hawk Creek is open from 9 am to 9 pm daily; serving breakfast from 9 am, lunch from 11:30 am and dinner from 4 pm. To-go orders are available all day. Call ahead to place your order. Gift cards are available. For more information, call 503-392-4400.