Story & photos by Patrick Alexander
Oregon Coast TODAY
After an extended remodel that added more space, more seating and elegant craftsman finishes throughout, the Café on Hawk Creek is proud to say that at least one thing has remained unchanged — a warm welcome.
Genie Ullrich, who co-owns the café with her husband, Frank, said the place had been bursting at the seams — both in terms of customer seating as well as back of house.
“Our kitchen was very small,” she said. “We were rubbing elbows and bumping into each other. Between that and wanting more indoor seating, because we can only use the deck in the good weather, we decided we needed more space.”
The remodel, completed over the course of five months earlier this year, increases indoor seating from seven tables to 15, but maintains the warm, welcoming atmosphere that has drawn locals and visitors alike to the café for decades.
A lot of that warmth emanates from the wood paneling and furniture lovingly crafted by Frank. With a cedar entryway, black walnut bar and tables crafted from English brown oak, white oak and ebony, the café is where all good trees hope to go when their time in the forest is over.
With Frank’s son Jim as contractor, the remodel brought in a host of tradespeople from along the Oregon Coast.
“They took a lot of pride in what they did for us,” Genie said. “There are a lot of talented people both in Tillamook County and Lincoln County.”
Local artists are also well represented, with works by noted Neskowin painters Michael Schlicting and Ken Dust on display. Meanwhile, guests are greeted at the front door by a large fish painted on the glass by Sitka Center founder Frank Boyden, who also crafted the bronze door handle in the shape of a heron head.
Working from an expanded kitchen, the culinary team led by Chef Ged Aydelott are now collision-free as they turn out dishes ranging from Spicy Artichoke Dip to Summer Vegetable Risotto to Prawn and Pesto Fettuccine. A wide selection of seafood includes Northwest-style Crab Cakes, Pan Seared Sea Scallops and Hazelnut-crusted Rockfish as well as fish and chips and Aydelott’s award-winning clam chowder. Those looking for heartier fare will find offerings such as Baby Back Ribs, New York steak and, on Friday and Saturday nights, prime rib.
The Café on Hawk Creek is also famous for its pizza — cooked to perfection in the formidable wood-fired oven and made with a slightly-thicker-than-normal crust, which local tradition dictates is then eaten with honey for dessert.
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.
And a full liquor license allows 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.
For guests who are starting the day, the café offers mouthwatering breakfasts including Huevos Rancheros, Banana Bread French Toast and Widmer Beer Batter Pancakes.
And for those who just want to pick up something sweet on their way to the beach, the Hawk Creek remodel has one last surprise up its sleeve — The Village Scoop.
This bright red, retro-style ice cream van sits in pride of place outside the restaurant, serving up ice creams, waffle cones, malts and shakes every afternoon from Friday through Sunday.
Genie said that from the woodwork to the artwork and the entrées to the ice creams, the most important thing is that the remodel’s changes have been welcomed by those who call Neskowin home.
“They take ownership,” she said. “It’s their restaurant and that’s important. We are happy to see that they take that pride.”
The Café on Hawk Creek is open from 8 am to 9 pm Sunday through Thursday and 8 am to 10 pm on Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 503-392-4400.