Well, we were wondering all along if we’d be able to find a good place to eat in Roseburg, and the short answer is no. We got off to a fairly good start; our cab arrived a few minutes early. The driver was not a talker, but he got us downtown in one piece.
The host at The Blackbird, and I think he was the owner, didn’t really seem to have our reservation, but waved offhandedly at some tables in the bar and said ‘I could let you have one of these’ or words to that effect. This may have been a good thing because there was a large and noisy party in the main dining room, and the most annoying guy at the bar left right away, so we had a pleasantly quiet table. We didn’t actually get a waiter, we were looked after by a bartender who never told us his name. We’ll call him Blue Shirt. He explained that he was better at bartending than waiting. For example, we noticed he had to read the blackboard out on the sidewalk to tell us what the specials were. We ordered Seafood chowder and a glass of white wine each. He brought the soup, which was excellent, and said he’d be back with the bread and wine, came back with only the wine. The bread didn’t show up until long after the soup was gone. I ordered a NY steak with a ‘horseradish mushroom cream sauce’ even though I don’t really enjoy horseradish. Caroline ordered the duck breast, which he said the chef was amazing at. The first wine we ordered was a local Pinot Noir (A Melrose that we had just tasted at the winery a few hours ago). They were out of it. The second wine we ordered was a local Cabernet Sauvignon by Spanglers. Although Blue Shirt was a bartender, he did not show us the wine before he opened it, so it’s a good thing he brought the right one. Other aspects of his wine service were a little off, too, but it’s a complicated ritual, and many waiters make mistakes.
The host did stop by once, but barely said two words. We noticed that when he stopped to talk to another table, he let their dirty plates sit in front of them the whole time, and left empty handed.
Dinner took a long time coming, and my steak was good: Blue Shirt got them to make the sauce for me without any horseradish. Points for that.
Caroline did not enjoy her duck, it was very rare, and the fat had not been seared, so it was unpleasant to eat and hard to trim off. Perhaps they rushed it to make up for the long wait. She barely touched it. We didn’t bother asking about dessert, we just asked them to call our taxi and paid the bill. The cab was prompt again, but Caroline had to walk over to the bar to get a paper bag for our left-over wine. (You can take it home, but it has to be in a bag in Oregon. Actually, I heard somewhere else that the bag is supposed to be sealed, but I’m not sure about that.)