New life in the little house on Lincoln
BY MOLLY TEMPLETON
I walked past the little green house on Lincoln nearly every day for a week after I saw the sign go up. The sign promised crepes. And fondue. I wanted crepes and fondue — both sounded like perfect Oregon winter comfort food. And I wanted to see what else a crepe and fondue restaurant on a quiet Eugene street would have to offer.
I had to wait more than a week, but it was worth it. The still-brand-new Vintage is charming, friendly and just as cozy as you'd expect from the outside. Dark wood floors and warm, earthy tones dominate the gently lit interior, where welcoming servers squeeze between tables in the restaurant's small rooms. Downstairs, with the generous array of bottles behind the bar, feels unexpectedly urban; up the narrow, painted stairs it feels like you're in an attic — albeit an attic with very tasty food.
Though to some it might sound odd, a savory crepe can be a perfect meal on its own, especially when you can fill it with whatever you like. The Vintage's design-your-own crepes offer endless options both sweet and savory. Each savory crepe comes with a house salad of baby spinach, goat cheese, raspberry vinaigrette and candied pecans so sweetly delicious you may be tempted to pick them out of the salad and eat them on their own. The crepes are light and flavorful; the only off note in mine was the artichoke hearts, which were a little hard.
Since The Vintage doesn't offer fondue until after 5 pm, a second trip was deemed necessary. Also, the long list of house cocktails and wine needed to be explored. The Vintage has a different cheese fondue (they also serve chocolate) each night, and though we never did find out exactly what was in ours, it was just what we'd come for: hot, bubbling cheese, served with vegetables, apple slices and bread. We may have overdone it on the tapas plates before the fondue arrived, though: drunken clams, light and tangy in a white wine broth; Thai chicken satay skewers; and a giant pile of fried calamari, served with an irresistible creamy pesto sauce. The tapas plates were at The Vintage's happy hour prices, which make the perfect-for-snacking dishes an utter steal. A "s'more, please" crepe and sweet waffles with chocolate sauce and ice cream were a decadent close to the evening.
The Vintage offers a few things, including the lava rock, a drink with a Pop Rocks rim, you're unlikely to find elsewhere in town. One is a pizza pot pie, a bowl of pizza toppings baked under a crust, which I tried on my third visit. The server dishes up this pile of cheesy goodness by upending the whole thing over a plate. It's not unlike a deep dish pizza, and the sauce is a delight, but one gooey bubble of uncooked dough in my broccoli-olive-pepperoni pizza pile was less than appetizing.
In a restaurant this small and endearing, with a different sort of menu and feel — the sort of place that's perfect for a quiet drink and pot of fondue to end the night or a cup of coffee (with real cream!) in the morning — it stands to reason that the place itself might have a few quirks. Like the small, square mirror placed oddly in the upstairs restroom. You tell me what you think that's for. I'll tell you we just laughed, and then we went back to our food. Which we'll be back for again soon.
The Vintage. 837 Lincoln St. 349-9181. 11 am-10 pm Tu-W, 11 am-midnight Th, 7 am-midnight F-Sa, 7 am-10pm Su. Closed Mondays. $-$$.