It's the Heart of Oregon Wine Country that's the Next Great Dining Destination

It's the Heart of Oregon Wine Country that's the Next Great Dining Destination
Courtesy of Evan Sung‍

Taking you inside The Tributary Hotel is Chef Matthew Lightner.

Matthew Lightner is reinventing the concept of destination restaurants. He wants them to be more than just places for people to eat; he wants them to be places that never have to leave.

A restaurant in McMinnville, Oregon, named Ōkta was opened by Lightner on July 13 based on this philosophy. An hour from Portland, the inn is located in a 100-year-old building in the Willamette Valley. It has eight suites and is intended to be a place for diners to stay overnight.

Courtesy of Evan Sung

A Michelin-starred European restaurant-inn inspired this intimate restaurant and hotel project, he partnered with Katie Jackson and Shaun Kajiwara of Jackson Family Wines. Lightner curates the entire sleepover experience, from fresh-cut floral arrangements on nightstands to shampoo and cheese in the bath. 

If you're interested in meeting the chef in the kitchen, you can do so. If you're interested in seeing local wine vintages maturing in the cellar, you can do that too. In the fall, Lightner plans to offer guests maximum privacy while dining by expanding Ōkta's dinner service to hotel rooms. 

Courtesy of Evan Sung

As a former manager of the Michelin-starred Atera restaurant in New York, Lightner does not improvise much. The Ōkta is a meteorological measurement of cloud cover, which is common in the Pacific Northwest. He has adopted that attitude at Ōkta, which is entirely dependent on Mother Nature.

In a similar manner to California's SingleThread and New York's Blue Hill at Stone Barns, this restaurant has its own farm a few miles away, and what appears on the plate is often whatever thrived that morning, whatever survived that night. A single meal reflects a very brief period of time on a specific and unique land.

As the oysters were drying in the farm's field on opening day, he brushed chamomile on top of them. It was incredibly fragrant. He harvested some Malabar spinach leaves from the field and added them to the toasty dish as well.

Courtesy of Evan Sung

In addition to Ozette potatoes, icicle turnips, and young fennel, Lightner and Katie Boeh cultivate 90 varieties of plants on their farm, which is two years old. Approximately a third of the harvest is sourced locally, and meat is sourced from Oregon producers. Within five years, Lightner hopes to grow 80 percent of the food he serves. By doing so, the food will be even more accurate and true to the terroir on the plate. 

Furthermore, the farm features a fermentation lab and a research and development center. He hopes guests will continue to return to Ōkta year after year, deeply affected and forever connected by it.  Reservations are available on Resy for dinner Wednesday through Sunday.

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